Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

My boss took a month-long holiday to Australia and New Zealand. He
wanted me in the office while he was gone, to handle mail and client
calls, and generally to be his safety valve and anchor in case anything
went wrong while he was travelling. This is a guy who panics when he
loses his glasses let alone his passport or reservations. I’ve actually
had enough to do while he’s been away, getting to lots of backlog that
he often keeps me too busy to address. But he’s due back next week
and I want to make some vacation plans of my own. When I texted
him to say I was scheduling time in the week after the week he came
back– specifically saying I’d be around to get him oriented upon his
return– I got a panicked call saying “No, No, I need you! You can’t
leave now!” I feel like I deserve a summer vacation too, and the busy
season for our industry starts right when the school year does, just
after Labor Day. How can I politely say, I’m outta here! See you in


Dear Deskbound:

Hindsight being what it is, much more accurate, you should have said
a month ago: I know you’ll need me here when you return, so here
are the arrangements I’m making to monitor things while you are
gone: I’ll be at my desk times x, y, and z, but will take some vacation
time while you are out of the country so I can be here when you are
back. If there’s a serious emergency, please text my cell. If I plan to
head anywhere I won’t have coverage, I will have [responsible person
name known to you both] on tap for the brief time I will be off the

Given that you did not, you will have to adjust to shorter away times
than you might have preferred. Give him a week to be back before you
plan to be gone for anything longer than a four-day weekend. If you
can get him to agree to a full week off, don’t make it the last one in
August when you’ll be gearing up for the push. Greet him with ranked
piles of matters you have attended to, each with a cover memo that
includes the name of client, a quick summary of the problem and
resolution, and the date it was completed, plus needed follow-up if
any. For matters that still require his attention, schedule two one-hour
periods each day for you to meet together to address them until the
pile is gone. PS beware of jet-lag induced moodiness!