Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 03.04.05
Stanstead, Quebec


A man with a Plan

Dear boss,

Please find enclosed my schedule of Planning Days for the coming year. During these days, I won't be showing up for work.

I will, of course, expect to be paid because I will be "planning." That's hard work and I deserve to be compensated for it.

These Planning Days - twenty in all - coincide with those Planning Days organized by my children's schools. Actually, my kids go to two different schools in two different systems so you better make it 30 days in all.

The school Planning Days are designed to allow teachers to "plan" what they will be teaching the children in the weeks ahead. It's a good thing they have these days, otherwise the kids might end up sitting in the classroom with nothing to do while the teacher wails "Oh, if only there was a school board or a Ministry of Education that could tell me what I should be teaching these children! My kingdom for a curriculum!"

And so they take time off during the year to organize and scheme, even though these lost days must be compensated for by starting the school year before Labour Day and having classes right up to Christmas Eve when the students are too hyper to learn a thing anyway. Ditto for those gloriously sunny days in late June.

But that's okay; I understand how important it is to have that Planning Day three days after school starts in September. It's not as though teachers have had a couple of months off to plan the coming year.

Please do not take this as a criticism of the teaching profession. Heaven knows that if I had to wrangle a classroom of 7-year-olds into snow pants or keep a bunch of hormonally deranged 15-year-olds hosed down, I'd need a few days off to "plan" too.

Unfortunately, during the school's Planning Days, parents are given no choice but to either take time off work or find babysitting for their children at their own expense.

That's why I will be taking my own Planning Days at the same time, so I can watch my kids. And plan. I'll just plan and plan and plan. I'm not sure what I'll plan as of yet, but I'm thinking of digging a tunnel under the neighbour's back yard and siphoning off their oil tank. Or I might plan a wedding; my girls aren't getting any younger, you know.

These days will also be an opportunity to catch up on the work around the house that I don't otherwise have time for because I'm too busy working, things like matching the empty yogurt containers under the sink with their lids and alphabetizing my socks. I know there are weekends and evenings to do such things but, come on, I need some down time, too.

You will note that a number of these Planning Days are scheduled either the day before or the day after legal holidays. I assure you that this is purely coincidence and has nothing to do with my having scheduled an extra-long weekend of skiing in Vermont. I swear I will be thinking and planning and organizing the whole time.

I'll also be taking a Planning Day during the week prior to my annual vacation. This may seem a bit silly to you but I need this Planning Day so I can get ready for said vacation. Surely you can see the logic in that.

I hope my decision to arbitrarily not show up for work isn't inconvenient for you. But rest assured that you will have to reorganize the routine operations of your entire organization for just one day - 20 to 30 times a year. Then everything will be back to normal. No problem.

And, oh yes, I want the summer off too.