The best way to ensure a decent work and life balance is to set strong, clear boundaries as well as take a stand for yourself when necessary.
At some point in life, people become victims of terrible bosses who never care about their employees. Sometimes, they do that because they don't like the employees or other times, they like themselves too much to care about others. Either way, we rarely get to see a satisfactory ending to such scenarios. That is why the story posted on Reddit by u/out_run_radio will inspire and amuse you just the correct amounts!
Per his post, the man is an IT professional for a small company. He is the only IT guy there and hence, a lot of things completely rely upon him. He says, "Truthfully, the gig is pretty great. Good pay, benefits and I can come and go as I please within reason." He is only supposed to report to the VP and CEO, who generally allow him to work as he wishes since he's good at his job. Amongst all these pros, there's only one con to this company. Since it is relatively small, most people don't take vacations for two reasons. One, because they want to build and two, their replacements are not usually available.
However, after two years with no vacations whatsoever, the man and his wife decide to use some time to decompress and take a small one-week getaway. He spoke to the VP, who approved his leave on the condition that he get everything in order and teach the other staff some basic IT stuff in case of an emergency. Just as he thought everything was in order and he started teaching people the basics of IT, the FOD (Field Operations Director) came into the picture.
While talking about the FOD's personality, he said, "FOD loves giving everyone a hard time, adding steps to tasks to make himself look like he's part of the process, reminding everyone how much of a 'boss' he is to the rest of us in management and calling me a nerd any chance he gets." Now, as the man started teaching the basics to the FOD, in conversation, he ended up telling him that he was going on vacation and wouldn't be available for a week. But the thought of retaining crucial information, asking questions and doing minor troubleshooting worried the FOD.
This revelation resulted in the FOD stating that the VP doesn't approve leaves. However, a chart of hierarchy made by the VP cleared that up. The FOD said the employee still needs to work from vacation. But when the employee asked if he did that too when he was on vacation, FOD said, "That's because I go to places without service, and unless you're going to the mountains, you have to work! You're salary!" That's when the man decided to rent a cabin in the woods, which is 2 hours from a nearby town and has no service. When a close work friend asked the man about his plan to deal with the FOD, he promptly said, "[He] set up automatic email replies that have all IT questions and concerns forwarded to FOD since, 'he's the boss, he knows.' [He will also] leave work phone on the charger in my office with the ringer on, door locked so he has to hear it and voicemail changed to have FOD become IT for the week."
His coworker also told this to the other employees, who together decided to flood the FOD with questions he wouldn't be able to answer. The man got a call in the middle of his vacation stating that the FOD couldn't take this and ended up taking a leave of the last 3 days until the IT guy would return. The man sarcastically says, "Nothing screams leader more than retreat. It's not weakness and failure if he's not there!" Once he returned, he met the VP to catch up. Since the VP had heard about everything that went on between the IT guy and the FOD, he decided to strike a deal with the IT guy that going forward, the man could take vacations where as far as he'd take his laptop and check it once a week. The VP also said that his vacation time for the day he opens his laptop, even for only five minutes, shall not be counted.
The man decided to take the time till his next vacation to teach a few things to the FOD by sitting with him for an hour every week. The comments section was filled with support for the man against this malicious compliance. u/th_blackheart said, "Awesome. And you even ended up in a way better place than you began with, regarding your vacations."