1.1 The Windfall
A windfall is a sudden, usually unexpected, influx of wealth. Winning-the-lottery windfalls are rare. Smaller, but still welcome, are an employee bonus, an inheritance, or a lucky run at the casino. People react in different ways to the experience of unexpected wealth or “found money”. It tells something about a person: the easy-come, easy-go gambler versus the frugal saver who salts it away for an indefinite future.
I have experienced a windfall not of money, but of time. A new company benefit designed to attract and keep employees in a climate of dot-com employment frenzy was announced. It seemed like an inexpensive benefit to advertise: employees of five years or more could take a one-time additional 3-week period, a sabbatical, of “disconnect time-off”. Combined with conventional vacation time, one could be absent for six weeks! But it would never happen. What high-tech California company had employees that stayed long enough to collect such a benefit?
But I wasn’t a California employee. I had held on for over twelve years in stoic Scandinavian style at a small Minnesota company, a company whose flicker of success first caught the attention of, and then was acquired by a Silicon Valley company desperate for people to help it grow, and eager to retain them. It was an unexpected gift, and I now had the dilemma of how to spend it.Continue reading