The Price Is Right

There’s just something about “The Price Is Right” that screams pleasant non-productivity. Maybe it’s just that it’s been such a long time since I’ve had the ability to sit and watch daytime TV, but I don’t remember it being quite so… absorbing. And so full of commercials!

There used to be a time when I would feel guilty about spending time in this way. But that was before I understood what the words “paid vacation” really meant. I don’t know about you, but when I was a university student, for 25 of the hours each week that I wasn’t in class, I was at work. The jobs were nothing glorious—in fact, I spent all five years of my undergraduate degree working in kitchens at chain restaurants. Low pay, no tips, no benefits. During summers I was a wildland firefighter in northern Alberta, which offered comparatively good pay, but claimed my entire summer. If I didn’t work, I didn’t pay rent—it was that simple.

After those five years, online slots as I continued on to grad school, I was introduced to the increasingly popular idea of working in contract positions, part-time work that was only ever guaranteed for a few months at a time. Still no benefits, though.

Which brings me to my current situation: I’m officially on my first-ever paid vacation, and it’s definitely a foreign feeling. I used to have such guilt when I took time off, as there was always a compromise to be made between taking enough time to see my family and friends, but not so much that it would make too big a dent in my bank account.

To not have to worry about all that sure is nice, but it’s new to me. I can definitely still relate to any crisis that students might be facing about taking time off during summer or holidays. The fact of the matter is that post-secondary education is not getting any more affordable, and for many students the ability to take time off will come at a price, in terms of an even higher debt upon graduation.

It’s a frustrating price to pay, and for most there’s no new car or trip to somewhere exotic waiting for them at the end of the show. There’s no glittery homemade t-shirts, cheering audience or Drew Carey (who will never be as good as Bob Barker).

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Believe me, after seven years of post-secondary education and part-time work, I was as big a doubter as they come. But here I am, watching daytime television, wearing a Snuggie, having my third cup of coffee and not feeling guilty for any of it.

I say this not to make you envious, readers, but only to show you that those crappy jobs you have to work during school are just stepping stones to your very own paid vacation.

Just remember not to take it for granted. And to spay or neuter your pets.

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