1 Please Leave Work Early | The Billfold

Please Leave Work Early


Do you know when I thought I’d find some use in anything former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist ever said or wrote? Never. But a friend (whom I also never expected to quote Rehnquist) posted something on Facebook that the ol’ Chief said at a commencement address in 1989, and it’s actually spot-on, and a good thing to think about as we commence what is sure to be another beautiful late-summer weekend:

Those who are putting in those last few hours at the job tell themselves that they don’t have time now, but after they have finally made partner, or finally saved another so many thousand dollars, then at last they will have the time, and they will take it.

Unfortunately, this is a very slippery slope to tread. There are some things that can only be done during a certain part of one’s life. You can only be a father or a mother to a young child while the child is young. Children soon enough grow away from their parents, and you can’t really tell an eighteen-year-old that at long last daddy is ready to play with him.

The time to help out a friend who is in trouble is now; your help won’t do that friend any good two weeks from now or two years from now. We all have to schedule our lives to some extent if we are going to perform useful functions in the world. But the totally scheduled person has ruled out in advance the possibility of any spontaneous responses to very deserving calls for help, for friendship, for service. These people may tell themselves that they are only postponing the opportunity to do these things, but in fact they are sacrificing that opportunity.

So my – and Rehnquist’s – advice to you is to leave work early today, if at all possible. Go have fun with someone you care about.

Photo by the author.


22 Comments / Post A Comment

thegirlieshow (#5,285)

Well he did write the Dickerson opinion. But yeah, that’s pretty much it.

This is making me feel much better about not going in to work today at all….I needed a mental health day and so: here I am.

LookUponMyWorks (#2,616)

I have hot plans to leave a little early after arriving early and staying late a few days this week. However, my co-workers tend to have crises around 3:45 on Fridays that they need my immediate help with. Like, every Friday. I think my solution will be to leave at 3:30 today.

ThatJenn (#916)

@LookUponMyWorks I like your strategy.

Today I had to be the coworker with the crisis who forwarded it on to someone else at 3:30 when she was trying to leave early for vacation. :( But I endeavor to avoid it, and wish there had been literally any other way.

lemonhead3159 (#6,051)

This is a nice reminder and also validates my decision to come into work 45 minutes late (I’ve been arriving early and staying late this week and damnit I just wanted to have coffee with a friend)

Allison (#4,509)

I want to leave like…now and drink fancy cocktails. Alas.


(Says the person who will go leave tonight…eventually, but definitely not in time for, say, happy hour or dinner or the outdoor movie in the park. And probably not in time for the last commuter bus. At least I’m saving money…?)

/Debbie Downer, I know.

Lily Rowan (#70)

Is it OK if the person I care about is me, and the fun I want to have is more time on the sofa?

Allison (#4,509)

@Lily Rowan I vote yes

Lily Rowan (#70)

@Allison THANK YOU!

garli (#4,150)

@Lily Rowan You don’t want your sofa to feel neglected.

andnowlights (#2,902)

I promise to leave early if my asst director that is here also leaves early. We hourly people get the shaft! If we take off early, our pay gets docked. Someday I’ll have a salaried job and it will be glorious, if any boss I’ve ever had is an indication.

garli (#4,150)

@andnowlights IT’S A TRAP. I would love to go back to hourly.

boogers mcgee (#4,474)

@garli Same here! If I had an hourly wage, those 12+ hour days I work at some points in the year would seems marginally less awful. I basically see salary as “You must work a minimum of 8 hours a day but sure go ahead and work more than that BUT NEVER LESS”

boringbunny (#3,260)

“Do you know when I thought I’d find some use in anything former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist ever said or wrote? Never.”

This statement seems overly hostile directed at someone who was, as a gross understatement, an influential figure in the field in which the author works and also, probably not a bad person. I really like the Billfold but the random snide comments against conservatives irk me. Just because one person believes X, that doesn’t mean they have no useful information to impart.

Allison (#4,509)

@boringbunny Ester never said that no one should find useful things in what he said, she said she never thought she would but did.

Also the dude was against desegregating schools and dissented in Roe v Wade. Knowing that about him, I’m inclined to give him the double birds and not give him the benefit of the doubt on other issues.

@Allison Also, Ester didn’t write this post! That Polonius guy did.

Allison (#4,509)

@Ester Bloom I have NO idea why I thought you did. Man, Friday was rough.

ThatJenn (#916)

I just got denied vacation time by my boss for the first time (very apologetically, but the reason is basically: because my other coworkers took so much vacation this summer and she’s afraid they won’t get caught up without me here even though I’ve been covering for them all summer) so I really WANT to leave early, but she’s still here so I don’t think that’s gonna happen. :( But once I do, I’m going to bake cookies, so all is right with the world.

cjm (#3,397)

I hope Mr. Rehnquist followed this advise when he was a supervisor of young lawyers. So many older people realize they missed the opportunity and would advise 18 and 22 year olds to seize it. But when that person is a 25-35 year old employee supervised by the older person, the line is, “make your hours, have this on my desk by tomorrow morning, check your phone at least 2x a day while on vacation.” Changing actual policies to allow this is much better than just saying, “you should do this.”

eatmoredumplings (#3,808)

I am leaving two hours early tomorrow to attend a wedding (Saturday’s my Friday)! I’m taking two hours of my vacation leave for it though, and had to notify a supervisor well in advance so that we’d have enough coverage. Flexibility: more of an option when you’re salaried?

holly (#6,785)

Being the hourly paid intern usually means hanging out at work when everybody else is on vacation. Even being the least senior salaried employee means the same. However, I once had a boss who would let us interns out early on Fridays just because “it’s summer and it’s a nice day out”. I would protest leaving early because I didn’t want to lose the money, but she would tell me to just put my usual hours on the sheet anyway. She also bought freezies for the staff room and let me write job applications during slow hours. Best boss ever.

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