Top Ten Things Not to Do as You Return to Work after a Long Holiday Hiatus

Here is the 28th installment of Ten Top Lists of What Not to Do by Marie Ann Bailey of 1WriteWay at and John W. Howell of Fiction Favorites at These lists are simu-published on our blogs each Monday. We hope you enjoy.


10.  When returning to work after a long holiday hiatus, do not expect your coworkers who did not take any time off to appreciate hearing how wonderful your vacation was.  At best they will smile absently as you regale them with stories of all the reading you got done.  At worst, they will regale you with stories of all the work that’s piled up on your desk, waiting for you and the fact you would be fired if it were not for them.

9.  When returning to work after a long holiday hiatus, do not try to incur sympathy by complaining that you had to spend most of it with your in-laws.  At best your coworkers will simply try to one-up your story of how your mother-in-law found fault with how you decorated your Christmas tree as usual.  At worst, your complaints will be passed to your spouse at the next opportunity.

8.  When returning to work after a long holiday hiatus, do not pretend to have been gone so long that you forgot your boss’s name.  At best, your boss will play along and pretend to forget your name and your salary grade.  At worst, your boss, who got called into work on Christmas Eve for an emergency that came up in your area, will purposely forget who you are and have security escort you from the building.

7.  When returning to work after a long holiday hiatus, do not expect to find your office or cubicle in the same condition as you last saw it.  At best, it might be cleaner since the cleaning crew actually had a chance to clean it while you were gone since most surfaces were uncovered.  At worst, you will find things missing (like your favorite Lord of the Rings post-up notes) because your coworkers took advantage of your absence and treated your office like a come-help-yourself supply depot.

6.  When returning to work after a long holiday hiatus, don’t expect you can spend most of your first day back getting “reacquainted” with your job.  At best, your boss will grudgingly give you permission to spend the day reviewing stuff rather than doing stuff, but in the end it will cost you.  At worst, your boss will offer you the opportunity to get “acquainted” with the new unemployment policies if you don’t step up.

5.  When returning to work after a long holiday hiatus, do not try to make it sound like your break was more fun than it was.  At best, you’ll only be competing with your cubicle-mate who, like you, basically stayed home and read all day.  At worst, you’ll find yourself making up stories about scuba diving off the Florida Keys just because your supervisor hung out at a nude beach in Pensacola.

4.  When returning to work after a long holiday hiatus, be sure to leave your house at least a half-hour earlier than usual.  At best, you’ll get to work earlier and have some “quiet time” before the reality of being back hits you.  At worst, you’ll need that extra half-hour because you’ve forgotten where you work and you get lost along the way. (You did drop crumbs didn’t you?)

3.  When returning to work after a long holiday hiatus, do not bring with you all the cookies and cakes left over from your holiday parties.  At best, your coworkers will just give you the evil eye since they had resolved to stop eating sweets after the holidays.  At worst, the three week old sweets that you left out for everyone else will mysteriously wind up on your office chair, in the shape of a horse’s head.

2.  When returning to work after a long holiday hiatus, do not be surprised if the work you thought your coworker would do on your behalf didn’t get done.  At best, you’ll find a neat stack of reports that need to be reviewed by close of business the day you return and the coworker who had offered to review the reports out on sick leave.  At worst, you’ll find piles of documents strewn across your desk with no clue when they are due or who left them for you, and your boss standing outside impatiently tapping a foot waiting for your report.

1.  When returning to work after a long holiday hiatus, do not expect everyone, including you, to be in a cheery, ready-to-get-to-work mood.  At best, you all will just be experiencing temporary post-holiday depression that will lift after a few days.  At worst, the reality that there are no more holidays until May will hit you like a sledgehammer and you’ll have a four-month long headache to show for it.


  1. Great list! After 12 days off during the holidays, I did almost forget my way to the office. Thankfully, we’re off for MLK day, but after that, it’s not until Good Friday in April. At least we’re employed, right? Have a great week!


    • I know, I keep telling myself to be grateful I have a job 🙂 Thanks, Jill! I do look forward to one more long weekend before the long slog 🙂


  2. So many comments to make on this one:

    I’ve gotten into #9 before and it simply falls into a list of mother-in-law stories. At one job, my boss and a few customers got into it. As for #7, I remember coming back from a vacation to find that my cubicle was turned into a storage space once. Then I learned that it was no longer my cubicle and I had been moved somewhere. Apparently, it served me right for going on a honeymoon. Finally, #3 is so true. There’s always that one person in the office who does this and most of the time it’s the thinnest person in the group. I think it’s the perfect environment for someone who wants to fatten his/her coworkers up in the event of being locked in the building for months. By the way, you don’t get many laughs when teasing a coworker about the possibility that they’re a cannibal. At least not in most of the offices I’ve worked.


    • I thought this list might trigger some memories for you, Charles 🙂 That’s pretty rude of your cubicle being turned into storage space, even if they did assign you another one. Kind of like when I left home the first time, my mother wasted no time in converting my bedroom into a storage room. Geeze …


      • It wasn’t all bad. I was closer to the bathroom, but I was on the main ‘Big Boss’ traffic aisle.


        • I consider myself very fortunate that my office is in a corner, far away from most of the office traffic. Otherwise, I would never be able to sneak in time for my writing 😉


          • I had a spot like that once. Made me wonder why people would want to put employees in a line of traffic with their backs turned to it. Creates such an air of paranoia and fear that it’s hard to concentrate.


            • I couldn’t work like that, especially if my work required lots of concentrate (which it does). This time last year we had to move to another building. I was already sitting in a cubicle, but at least it had a door and even a window. Still, I felt like I was in a fishbowl. One evening I went to check out my “new” assigned office and found that it was in an open area, like a receptionist’s area. To be honest, I had a meltdown. Fortunately my immediate supervisor was very sympathetic. She had actually assigned me to a different office (corner with door and windows) but her boss had changed the assignments. I don’t know why. I took it upon myself to assert squatter’s rights in the office that was originally assigned to me. It had been left vacant anyway. I don’t often defy my superiors like that. Funny thing is, the guy who had assigned me to the open office never said anything to me. I don’t know if my supervisor explained things to him, or if he forgot (very possible), or if he realized he had done a stupid and was willing to overlook it. In any case, I’m just relieved that I have my corner office and that I face the door so I can see trouble coming 🙂


              • Sounds like what happened to me. Departments were merged and the head of the one that I wasn’t a part of became the main one. So, they rearranged everyone and put me in this cubicle. It was also on the other side of the building from my team, so I spent a lot of time walking. There were several empty cubicles around the others, but I was told that ‘the exercise wouldn’t kill me’. I got in trouble for my outburst.

                The problem was that I was moving to Florida within a few months, so I was introduced as ‘the guy who was moving’. Not an enjoyable experience, but I heard it changed a lot after I left, so I wouldn’t have lasted much longer with the way things were going.


  3. My in laws just got back from a 3 week trip to New Zealand and are feeling all these pains for sure! Great list!


  4. I always tried to downplay my absences. Didn’t want to seem like I had too much fun while the others were toiling away. I once came back from a brief medical leave to discover all seven of us had been moved from our offices to a room full of cubicles. The old offices had been converted into private patient conference rooms. I had less empathy for a patients for a long while afterwards.


    • I feel fortunate that I’ve never had the experience of returning from leave to find that I’ve been assigned a new office. But I have gone from a private office to a cubicle when I’ve changed jobs, and that just bites.


  5. Good morning Marie. I used to go into a depressed state when thinking of returning from vacation. Getting over it was usually pretty fast when I realized my career was on the line for having missed the United Way solicitation.


  6. I hope all my co-workers read number 1 before running into me in the corridors. Where’s the Aspirin..? :-/


  7. Love the candy horse’s head! 🐴


  8. This is hilarious! I am so glad I work on a ranch! lol!


  9. Love these – I was the one who was covering for someone who took off for the two weeks. She started in on how lovely it was and how many books she read, etc. until she saw my face – that was the last we heard about it, which was good. I loved the overtime, but 7am-5pm days are looong! 🙂


    • Two weeks of 10-hour days! Yikes, I hope the overtime is worth it 🙂 It’s definitely hard for me to hear coworkers wax poetic about their time off when their time off was made possible in part by everyone else doing their work while they were gone.


  10. At least I only have myself to annoy – one of the benefits of being self-employed 😉


  11. Great list. I cannot say I gave experienced any if these basically because I have never been away for an extended absence. But honestly, I would think considerate and sensitive behavior would be appropriate for both sides of the fence. 😉


    • Thank you! Depending on the work place, sometimes it’s just hard to either (1) not gloat about your great vacation or (2) not resent someone else’s great vacation. It can be touchy 🙂


  12. I haven’t had a long holiday hiatus in so long, I’ve forgotten what one feels like. 🙂


  13. #3 😛 Too funny. Even though ‘retired’ for two years we still had to get back to watching the toddlers this week. Much nicer than returning to the office after holiday – toddlers don’t discuss weight issues or food – unless that’s what they’re babbling about in toddler talk.


    • Oh, that’s funny! I imagine going back to work watching toddlers is more fun than going back to an office 🙂



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