When I hear that phrase, I instantly envision the old fashioned wooden sign that cartoon characters like Road Runner would put up on his front door before heading out on an adventure. Written in scratchy black lettering, the word pair indicated away.
Today’s electronic version of that sign – the auto-response: “thank you for your message, I am out of the office.” In particular, during the holiday season when travel is frequent, letting colleagues, friends, and associates know you are away is a courtesy that has become common. So, what about roommates? Should they let each other know when they won’t be home? Moreover, what is the best way to do that? Ideally, not with a souvenir upon return from tropical travels. That is, until you have met my roommate.
The first time my roommate went on vacation, it took me until day three to realize it. The toothbrush with the dripping toothpaste had not moved an inch. Her door had been closed and locked (I tried the knob when there was no response after I knocked). Initially, I worried: where could she be? I thought about calling, texting, or e-mailing. I did not because my roommate had reiterated numerous times the reason for living on her own in a city where her parents also lived: independence.
So, I waited, and wondered. One evening around midnight as I headed to bed, the apartment door opened. There, she appeared with multiple suitcases and a tan. “Hi!,” she yelled down the hallway, “I’m back!” Oh, I mumbled under my breath, I had no idea you were gone. As I emerged from my room in pajamas, I rubbed my eyes and greeted her. She greeted me with “here you go,” handing me a brightly colored trinket. “Cool!” I exclaimed, and questioned, “Where did you go?” “Peru. I just climbed Macchu Picchu!” she exclaimed as she rolled her suitcase into her room. “Welcome back!” I said, and turned to go back into my room.
A month later, when I left for a trip, I debated whether or not I should tell her I was leaving for a week. I decided against it. It began a cycle that was never broken until we parted ways. Instinctively, I think we both just knew when the other was not home. However, every time, we would bring each other back a touristy gift, and move on with our lives as if we had been home all along.
Of course, I always wished we had a “Gone Fishin’” sign to let the other know that one of us would not be home. So, imagine my reaction when my roommate the following year emailed me, copying her family, with her flight and travel itinerary. I guess after all, I did get my electronic “Gone Fishin” before a roommate departed. It just came a few years later than initially expected.