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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Christopherson Column: In hindsight, timing of vacation was the worst ever

  • Are you a person who can leave your work at the office once your work day is done, or are you known as a person who, others might say, takes your work home with you?
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  •     Are you a person who can leave your work at the office once your work day is done, or are you known as a person who, others might say, takes your work home with you? You know, you can’t leave the office at the office, because it’s just not in your DNA. You may not be what is known as a “Type A” personality across the board necessarily, but your mind is often full of thoughts, even in the middle of the night, and those thoughts are usually wrapped around your work.   
        It’s tough for these types of people to take a long weekend, much less a vacation that lasts a week or even two. It doesn’t matter if it’s a “staycation” largely spent in your own backyard or a legitimate destination vacation to some tropical getaway, people who have a tough time separating work from play probably spend half of their time designed supposedly for some rest and relaxation away from the office stressing about what’s going on at the office in their absence. Toward the end of the vacation, it really kind of becomes a vacation in name only, as a sense of dread that comes with going back to work and having to catch up, or undo the things that their colleagues did, slowly settles in.   
        I’m kind of that way. Not so much about the undoing what others have done thing, since at the Times I have a grand total of two colleagues in the newsroom. It’s one and a half, actually, considering that we were reduced from three full-time newsroom employees to 2.5 full-time equivalent employees about a year ago.  
        But when I’m out of the office I’m thinking about the Crookston Daily Times. Is the editorial or story I wrote today as accurate as it can be? Is it going to trigger calls and emails in opposition? Is someone going to send me a clipping of my latest column with the word “IDIOT!” scribbled in bright red marker over its words?    
        Mostly, though, my head is full of thoughts that look ahead, to tomorrow’s newspaper, and the newspaper the day after that, and the day after that, and next week’s editions of the Times. Do we have enough hard news stories in the pipeline? How about photos, and videos, too? Are there too many things to cover or, worse yet, not enough things to cover that will make good content for the newspaper? What are my editorial topics going to be about next week? How about my next column? Will I end up staring at a blank computer screen and be forced to embark on every columnists’ nightmare, having to write about not having anything to write about?   
    Page 2 of 2 -     And that’s just on your average Tuesday evening. Extended vacation? Forget it. Yes, I know it’s my own fault – a vice, really – but I haven’t taken more than three actual Monday through Friday days off in a row in about a decade. How does the smallest daily newspaper in Minnesota put out a quality product for an extended period of days with a sports editor and a part-time reporter, after all?   
        Then I tried to squeeze my neurotic feet into the shoes of April Todd-Malmov, the director of website for MNsure, the state health insurance exchange that sprung up as part of the Affordable Care Act. I would expect that my feet are larger than hers, but even if I wore a size 7 and she wore a size 11, I still don’t think I could walk a mile in her shoes, not when Todd-Malmov took a two-week vacation to a tropical paradise while, back at home, MNsure was rife with probems and dominating the headlines day after day.   
        Yes, she scheduled the trip to Costa Rica well in advance and committed dollars to it well in advance. But the mistake Todd-Malmov made was not having the foresight to think that maybe, just maybe, taking a two-week international trip a month after the MNsure enrollment period launched could be the worst possible time in the history of health insurance, vacation travel and maybe time itself.   
        Did she or anyone else think that MNsure was going to launch flawlessly? Did anyone think there were only going to be minor kinks that any middling staff member could seamlessly iron out?   
        Worst of all, as I try to see things through Todd-Malmov’s eyes and apply my own personal psychosis to her situation, it had to be the vacation from hell. I’m sure her vacation partner had a blast, too, as Todd-Malmov, in this digital communication age, was no doubt peppered constantly with correspondence from Minnesota reporting one problem with MNsure after another.   
        Certainly, Todd-Malmov is a smart person with a track record of success prior to this fiasco. And maybe she figured all the hard work she’d put in since 2011 leading up to the October launch of MNsure warranted a reward in the form of an extended break in a tropical paradise.   
        I don’t know how she did it. I would have vomited up my Corona, every single day.

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