Cross-posted from Ishmael’s Corner
Our U.S. offices tried an experiment this year.
Straying from convention, we decided to give everyone a jump on the weekend by calling Friday at 2 p.m. “closing time” (cue the Matchbox 20 song).
So how did folks spend the time?
Here are some of the back stories.
A Sunny Day of Music
The news of summer Fridays came just three weeks after I started working as an account coordinator at Hoffman, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to make the most of my weekends. During the first weekend of August I went to Outside Lands Music Festival in San Francisco! The gates to the festival opened midday on Friday, so getting out of the office at 2 p.m. allowed me to get there in plenty of time (and also helped me avoid the horrible I-280 rush hour traffic!). I spent the day listening to music with friends and enjoying a rare sunny day in the city.
Extending the Honeymoon
Our early release Fridays were announced right as I was returning from three weeks of vacation. I’d just tied the knot and returned from a fun, relaxing honeymoon and was greeted with this gift upon my return.
With a new husband who just so happens to be a teacher and lives on the philosophy of “every day is a Saturday” during the summers, I felt only slightly less jealous of his summer breaks with this new lease on Fridays.
In typical newlywed fashion, I used the time to spend with him. I supervised as he and my dad ripped apart the front yard to build something bigger and better for the home we purchased a year ago. I got my hands dirty sanding down old fence boards and creating something new with the old — a tray for our living room ottoman. I even learned how to operate the table saw, which my husband took on the supervisor role for.
Suffice it to say, the early release afforded me some extra time with my new husband to build our home and our marriage.
What’s in the Box?
Shortly after 2 p.m., I jumped in my car, hit play on my “Doris and Friends” playlist, and zoomed off to a storage unit in Gilroy. The drive was long and tedious, but as Ms. Day reminded me, “Que sera …” An unexceptional one hour and six minutes later, I finally arrived. I grabbed a large, heavy box (dropped it twice — once on my foot) and hauled it back home, where I spent the next hour assembling its contents: a cat tree. As I finished tightening the last screw, I heard rustling in the box just behind me. I had my suspicions. While the cat tree is very nice and quite expensive, I feared my cat might be more interested in the box itself — it’s a cat thing. However, as I turned around, I found a different creature altogether in the box: my mother.
I also noticed a screw left over. Still not sure where that’s supposed to go.
Footloose and Fancy-free
In one word, Early Friday was relief-ful. The extra few hours made a world of difference in starting the weekend without the stress of “hurry up and get going.” Kind of let me be a little footloose and fancy-free.
Friday #1. I had a formal event dinner in Santa Cruz and was able to pick up a friend at 4:30 and head over the hill for an enjoyable evening. Traffic was bumper to bumper, but I had no stress because of the early jump.
Friday #2. I had the opportunity to run to our printer, Graphic Imagery, in South San Francisco to pick up a project. Rarely do I get a chance to run to a vendor and see what other agencies are printing. Before the digital boom, this was the way to see fellow designers’ work before it was out.
Friday #3. Went to the San Jose Red Cross to do a drop-in blood donation. Bummer, they close at 2:30 on Fridays!
Friday #4. I have a group of friends that meets at 4 p.m. four days a week. They call themselves “4 by 4.” I got to hang with them for an afternoon.
Friday #5. Bonus! Had a friend over for dinner. Didn’t get the early jump on preparations, but did make a bit of time to catch an old “Rockford Files.”
Koi and Coffee at the Ranch House
When the clock strikes 2 p.m. on Leave Early Fridays, I’m usually headed over to Santa Cruz. But the most fun and enjoyment I had on one of these special Fridays was sit in four hours and 45 minutes of traffic driving to Grass Valley. (I hope you sense the sarcasm.)
In all honesty, it was the most relaxing weekend that I had (leaving out the drive). My boyfriend and I spent the weekend at my friend’s ranch house in Grass Valley (this friend also happens to be my boyfriend’s cousin) to celebrate the birthdays of my boyfriend’s grandpa and his other cousin. The converted barn-turned-house sits on 12 beautiful acres and includes a swimming pool, “neigh”boring horses and cows and a pond full of turtles and koi fish (my friend’s dad revealed that he’s put $10,000 worth of koi into the pond, and the raccoons have eaten half of them).
My favorite part of the weekend was bringing our coffee out to the dock each morning, feeding the koi fish and turtles and enjoying the cool morning air before it quickly hit 95 degrees. And then spending the evenings surrounded by friends and family, spaghetti and wine.
The Joy of Reading
The gift of time. What a joy to have a couple extra hours to hit the bookstore and pick up some great reads by Alan Furst, Isabel Allende and Louise Penny (especially when I had a Books Inc. coupon good only on Fridays in August!). Loved the feeling that the weekend was just a little bit longer, the air a little bit fresher, my mind a little bit freer.
Tater Tots Hit the Spot
As the new girl in town, I am still learning the roads and discovering the popular spots for millennials. One girl I met invited me to go to Downtown Campbell. Of course I accepted the invitation — I am shocked I’ve made friends so fast despite my being socially awkward. I wanted to look nice, so I spent an hour doing my hair and makeup as though I was going to prom again. I decided to wear heels, but I was struggling to balance myself and look fabulous at the same time. As the old saying goes, “Beauty is pain.” Our last stop of the night was at a place called The Spot. As we walked in the bar, an aroma of food passed my nose. We followed the smell outside to a food truck and decided to order chili-cheese tater tots. It was the most delicious snack I’ve ever had. Every day I crave those tater tots, and they fill my heart with glee every time I think about them. I spent the rest of my Friday night eating tater tots and talking to my new friend about how much I love California already.
When I arrived home early on Summer Friday afternoons, the first thing I did was give my wonderful wife an early hug and a kiss to start the weekend.
She would then tell me to start relaxing, which usually meant heading for the garage. I really don’t know why I like the garage so much — it’s really a junk pile. But I keep some useful things in there, such as my bike pump … and lube for my bike chain.
During the freed-up Friday hours, though, I took more time to dig for lost treasure. I opened a box and found a photo from many years ago of myself on a motorcycle tour, and I remembered the tornado that wasn’t far behind us then. I tried another box and found a pair of old bicycle shoes I never use anymore. Those connected to memories of a Colorado bicycle tour. I found a box of journals, and inside one a page that made me vividly recall a family moment decades ago.
Remembering all that stuff was fun. The sun shone, and life was wonderful.
No Place Like My Second Home
The most nostalgic thing I did after leaving the office behind at 2 p.m. was head to my second home and college town, San Luis Obispo (SLO), for a good, old-fashioned camping trip with good friends from Cal Poly. SLO is such a beautiful, idyllic place — perfect for catching up with old friends, enjoying the beauty of nature and getting away from the ol’ inbox. We stayed at Lake Lopez campsites, made new friends with the deer and other wildlife, hiked the High Ridge Trail, marveled at the zip lining and ropes course, and reminisced about our time at Cal Poly. It was the perfect way to recharge, and I came back to work energized on Monday morning.
Perfection in a Pedicure
The best thing I did with my early-release Fridays was spend an hour getting the most luxurious pedicure I’ve ever experienced — we’re talking rose petals and lemon in the spa water, a 12-minute hot stone massage, paraffin treatment and reclining massage chair. I rarely get my nails done, so this experience was a real treat, and I was so grateful for the time to do it in a way that didn’t feel rushed. Other Fridays I used the extra time to get errands done so I could enjoy more of my weekend, but that pedicure was a particularly beautiful experience. After a week of working hard, there’s nothing better than playing hard (or hardcore relaxing, in this case).
Sneaking Around Traffic
When I left early on Fridays, I did so primarily to beat the traffic. I could get home in about half the time it takes me when I leave at 5 p.m. Upon getting home I would head straight to my home office, get on my email and work until 5 p.m. I simply can’t relax knowing that clients may be trying to reach me (or the team) only to leave them hanging over the weekend. Which is probably why I wake up on Saturday morning and check email first thing! And Sunday is a repeat of Saturday.
Moving off the Couch
Although I haven’t been around long enough to experience the summer Fridays, I used this amazing “Lucky Bonus Friday Day” to move into my brand-new Beaverton apartment. While I have truly loved and appreciated spending this past week on my cousin’s couch, it will be nice to get into my own place. My first week as a member of the Hoffman team has been awesome, and this move makes it all the more real!
Cruisin’ in Style
Imagine you had an entire afternoon free. No commitments. No plans. What would you do? My solution: take a Segway tour of downtown Portland. After a few minutes of the “newbie wobble,” I mastered the Segway (which is harder than it looks) and was ready to take on the big city. From whizzing past the waterfront at an exhilarating 12 mph to checking out the biggest local landmarks, this unusual tour of the City of Roses definitely delivered. The crazy part is that I learned things about this city I never knew, even though I’ve lived here for 15 years now. For example, did you know that Portland was named based on a coin toss? Or that Portland has the second-largest copper statue in the U.S., second only to the Statue of Liberty? Crazy, I know. So if you’re ever in Portland, tired of walking and looking for something to do, this one-of-a-kind adventure may be the right thing for you.
A Multi-state Move
Throughout the vast majority of our leave-early Fridays, I was in the process of moving from Seattle to the Bay Area. With the stress associated with a multi-state move on short notice, having those few extra hours really helped me prepare for the task ahead. While it might be a bit mundane, the afternoon of Friday, August 5, was filled with less-than-thrilling tasks, such as packing up various rooms in my apartment, cleaning portions of the apartment, and staging furniture to be picked up by movers. It wasn’t the most relaxing, but it gave me the time necessary to get everything done.
Virtual Reality Reconnection
I used the early Friday exits to reconnect with friends I hadn’t been able to see for some time — the usual reasons of life just kept getting in the way. This led to a Friday afternoon of me trying to handle my friend’s new virtual reality system and succumbing to motion sickness within about five minutes. He had me try a game in which you jump from rooftop to rooftop with grappling hooks (virtually — if I tried that for real, I’d instead be writing about how I broke my hip one Friday afternoon). For the five minutes it lasted, the experience was one for the books.
Mental Moments at the Beach
I wish I could say I did something really exciting with my summer hours, but unfortunately I used the time on mundane things like grocery shopping to make sure I was well stocked with Brussels sprouts (my new favorite vegetable) and to avoid fighting the crowds on Saturday. In my mind, however, I was at the beach and wine tasting in Hood River.
My favorite summer Friday experience was taking off early and driving up to my family’s cabin in Lake Tahoe. When I arrived, after driving five awful hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic, I was greeted by my parents, my two sisters (who flew in from Washington and Colorado), and my beach-loving, shaggy-haired Labradoodle, Tucker.
While most of the weekend took up lounging on the beach and enjoying the view of the lake, my sisters and I thought we’d try something a bit more adventurous: parasailing. Whenever I’ve watched parasailers from afar, the sport always looked like such an adrenaline rush. To my surprise, it was actually very calm and relaxing. Even at 1,200 feet in the air, I could look down and still see rocks in the unblemished, pure water — I hope Lake Tahoe always stays that blue.
That weekend meant a great deal to our family because we only see each other a few times a year now, so I was grateful for the few extra hours with them.
Pinot and a Picnic
Thanks to Summer Fridays, I was able to able to bypass some hellish Bay Area traffic and escape to wine country with my friends. We spent the late afternoon enjoying a quickly assembled picnic that included three varieties of cheeses (we take our dairy products seriously), sipping on some Pinot at Viansa Winery and admiring the gorgeous view. The rest of the day was spent taking about 50 photos and playing around with the Boomerang app to commemorate the outing. Nothing like a glass of wine (or three) to kick off the weekend!
Summer Spa Day
Karen Riley Sawyer
One cold, dark and damp Portland “summer” day, a seemingly standard Friday at the office ended with a blissful three-hour mid-afternoon spa retreat — the stuff that typically only long-awaited annual vacations are made of. Dinner with a fellow PR colleague (from another agency) followed. As she outlined her afternoon of back-to-back meetings — pretending to look at me while responding to “a few quick emails” — she happened to notice my relaxed demeanor.
“What’s with you? Didn’t you have to work today?” she asked before launching into a detailed tirade of another 60-hour work week.
I responded: “I did, but I finished at 2 p.m.”
Without missing a beat, she replied: “Are you hiring?”
Soggy Miles at Multnomah Falls
On one of the first early Fridays, I traveled to the nearby Oneonta Gorge to hike and see the Multnomah Falls with my best friend. She had traveled up from California to spend the weekend exploring Portland and eating delicious food with me, but we decided we should probably work up our appetites first!
We were in the middle of a five-mile hike when it started pouring. We hadn’t anticipated a rain storm in the middle of August, so we didn’t have rain jackets. Luckily, once we got back to the car we found jackets to use for the rest of the day, but it was a very soggy five miles!
Matching Memories with a Friend
On one of those Fridays, I went to have an early dinner with Summer, a former roommate from my USC days. We both majored in business, lived in the same apartment, and now work in the same city. She graduated a year earlier than I did, and we hadn’t seen each other since then. I invited her to dinner because I usually think of her when passing by her building, PricewaterhouseCoopers.
We have both changed in various ways. She has become much quieter, and that made me miss her chatty personality. We didn’t talk about our future plans like we used to. Instead, we reminded each other of our times at USC. Maybe these memories are things that remain unchanged.