#321 Taking the day off on your birthday

Once upon a time I ran a sandwich shop.

Yes, it was back in the early 00’s when I was a mayo-squirting kingpin working in the sticky, mustard-smeared sandwich underbelly. Surrounding me were a hodgepodge of acne-covered teenage longhairs who clocked in each day to slice tomatoes, chop green peppers, and fill paper cups right to the foamy brim.

Now, it was just a small shop in the corner of a dusty plaza in the suburbs and we had maybe a dozen folks on payroll, tops. As you can imagine, we got tight pretty quickly and little social norms started bubbling up — things like last one there gets the morning coffees, sobbing uncontrollably while chopping onions is completely acceptable, and everyone dresses up in full costume on Halloween.

Of course, by far and away the most popular house rule we developed was everyone gets their birthday off. It was pretty easy to schedule and the excitement leading up to those big days gave us all giddy little schoolkid highs.

Nope, we don’t get many birthdays on this spinny wet rock so let’s try to take them off.


Why do you read 1000 Awesome Things?

Photos from: here, here, and here

132 thoughts on “#321 Taking the day off on your birthday

  1. Well, Neil, I read 1000 Awesome things because it reminds me how awesome this “spinny rock” can sometimes be, especially when the things grabbing my immediate attention are not so awesome. It provides perspective and gets me out of my glass-half-empty mentality. And I still take my birthday off. It takes an entire day to cash in on all those birthday club freebies that you have to create a separate spam email account for :)

  2. I bet you were an awesome boss.

    When I was a graduate assistant, I was always allowed to have my birthday off, but that’s because 1) I was the only employee of a professor and 2) I could take off any day I wanted anyway. So that’s kinda less exciting. :/

    Well, anyhoo, that’s a policy that I think all places of employment should adopt. Although … there’d be a heck of a lot less office cake if no one had workweek birthdays. ;)

    I read 1000 Awesome Things for lots of reasons …

    1. It’s amazingly well-written.
    2. It’s usually hilarious.
    3. When it’s not hilarious, it’s heartfelt.
    4. It’s a happy place full of really great people. Except Karen. She wasn’t very happy.
    5. Many more but it’s late … I’m sure I’ll be back with lots more to say on the subject.

      1. I didn’t know you were a grad student? Clearly it’s in something nerdy (based on today’s awesome joke thread (the recent Pascal/Newton one was awesome!)..

        I don’t feel like we have enough info about Lara – here are my 4 biographical questions as your homework today (feel free to be as vague as you want if revealing stuff online freaks you out):
        1) What city do you live in?
        2) What are you studying?
        3) What is your stance on Nutella? (pro or REALLY pro… because no one is anti-Nutella, let’s be honest..)
        4) Team Edward or Team Jacob?

        1. I have no qualms about answering your questions, Freddo. I doubt anyone is going to stark stalking me based on my commentary here.
          1: St. Petersburg, FL
          2: Deep-sea corals.
          3: Just pro. Cuz after I traveled to China, I discovered Dove chocolate spread which totally trumps Nutella.
          4: Team Jacob’s abs. He’s a butterface.

          1. You’re a marine biologist in Florida? Talk about dream job!! You just might get some starkers after all! errr.. something like that..

            I’ve got to look into this mysterious “Dove” product you’re talking about, because so far this just sounds like the bizarre rantings of a crazy person.. pffffttttthhhhhttt.. better than Nutella? Whatevs! :)

            Btw: On question 4, you definitely passed the test with the ONLY acceptable answer to that question! ;)

            1. Pfffft yourself. Why pollute your chocolate with hazelnuts when you can have it pure? It’s really too bad we don’t have that stuff in the states. Or maybe I haven’t really spent much time looking.
              I’m glad I got #4 correct. Twilighty things can lead to a slippery slope. I’ve lost friends over Twilight. Not really, but I’ve definitely lost respect for them :P

              1. Twilight fans are very protective of their opinions/thoughts/beliefs … I, too, have had a few Twilight-related tiffs.

                I haven’t read the books or seen the movies, and that alone is apparently enough to send people into a tizzy.

                1. I will never understand…or care…but I am a little bit worried for my friends who I previously thought were rational, intelligent people, but have now crossed over to the insane vampire side :( I am also wary of all the recent innocent-sounding “dinner invitations,” as they have turned into “now that you’ve eaten my food, you have to watch vampire shows with me for the next two hours” invitations…

                  1. Just want to be clear – I’m totally onboard with all of this decrying of the current batch of vampire-related programming (Twilight, Vampire Diaries, True Blood, etc. etc..)

                    But as right-minded individuals, we’re clearly not including Buffy the Vampire Slayer in these discussions right? Because we’re all in full agreement that Buffy was perfect and beyond reproach?

                    Ok – good.. just wanted to make sure we were all on the same page.

                    That is all.

        1. I hope it never ends because I get paid to go to school, but then I hope it ends soon because I want a real life, but then I change my mind again when I realize there’s no free food and beer in real life, but I just got a grant that, if I accept it, could extend my graduate career for at least 3 more years. But do I really want to have a degree that took 9 years to complete? I’m so confused:/ Is it awesome that this is one of my biggest problems in life?

    1. Office Cake! Great call back – that still remains one of my favorite posts because it so accurately reflects what the office cake ritual is like in my office..

      Oh, and yeah – Karen was the worst. :)

  3. I read 1000awesomethings because:

    1) From Broccoflower to taking your birthday off (and beyond), it gives me a reason to smile every weekday. Except the post on ducks.. amirite??
    2) The site reminds me to stay optimistic..
    3) We’ve developed an awesome little community here in the comments..
    4) Because someone needs to tell the spam commenters to post their generic “Thanks for the info!” comments that link to their fake viagra websites somewhere else..
    5) Bedhead Baby!
    6) I’m riveted by the “will-they-or-won’t-they?” relationship between Laura and Cary and I need to stick around to see how it ends.. *scurries away*
    7) I feel invested in the site at this point, and need to stick around to see if #1 is… *fingers crossed* *eyes closed* pleasepleasepleasepleasepleaseplease… Nutella!

      1. “Ducks” is more of a metaphor.. it represents the idea of a bad post.. we need to work to make sure Neil’s ego doesn’t get to big, so we need to make sure that he doesn’t think his oeuvre is devoid of the occassional misstep..

        Therefore: BOO DUCKS! :)

  4. Why this blog? There are so many things I don’t realize that I take for granted. This blog simply reminds me that it’s the little things make life even a bit more exciting. Such optimism is admirable.

  5. It’s funny
    It’s sweet
    It’s well designed
    This far in, it has yet to get boring
    It’s True. Plain and Simple. I think that’s really what I love most.

    1. Why do I read 1000 Awesome Things? What Daisy said, she said it best. Yeah, all of that and it makes me smile.

  6. From this place I am taken to another time zone and space.
    It reminds me of “It’s a small world after-all”…gotta love it.
    Here I can claim life force pouring out “Imagine”, “Hey Jude”, “I have a dream”… and many more come to mind from then to now.
    Inspirational and motivational to be mindful of a compassionate conspiracy uniting, creating peace, love and empowerment.
    Connecting to other sites of interest like 1000babysteps, flickspire, random acts of greatness, Ted X…the world bigger, yet smaller.
    Nutella is gross! But dove chocolate sounds lovely. I’ve learned so much from all of you, like the old red tupperware cookie cutter sets I have are rare; sentimental and have a good $ value. There are so many more things and I’ve only been here since…”Feeling it in my bones” what a great start a new year! The rest you all talk about, I don’t know.
    This I know: jan. 24 post, grand-daughter’s 5th. b’day, it was not that long ago she looked like pic 1 and since my recent b’day, I look alot like pic 2. A great many belly laughs saturday, sunday and monday too, as we sang, danced, had our cake and ate it too.
    Thank you Neil

  7. Sounds awesome!

    I read it because it never fails to make me smile, I love how some days you’ll write reams and reams on a particular awesome thing, and some days just let the awesomeness speak for itself. They’re always things most of us can relate to, often everyday things we take for granted, or didn’t realise everyone else finds awesome too. There are zillions of inspirational-type blogs out there and yours is definitely one of the best, by far. Simple, original concept :)

  8. I read this blog because the 1000 Awesome things are indeed awesome! Always bang on the money – especially today: taking a day off on your birthday – nothing like waking up on a work day and knowing you don’t have to haul yourself out of bed until your are ready but everyone else does!

  9. I always take my birthday off.
    Its MY day.
    …besides, I thort it was in The Rules….Thous musn’t work on thy Birthday for it is Foribdden……

  10. I never really got to take the day off on my birthdays. In the Philippines, my birthday falls on the exam period of schools. I might be able to take a day off this year now that I’m working. Thanks for sharing this!

  11. I read 1000 Awesome Things because:

    1. It relatable.
    2. Its funny.
    3. Its clever.
    4. It incredibly well written.

      1. happy belated birthday’s!Mine was the 25th., I have 2 sister’s, also celebrate 27th. all 3 years apart. First shared since 1970, this week for 3 days! Snow play, singing, dancing,rockband, skating in yard, reminiscing… laughing…3 generations together!After 15 years “surprised” by a bro’, late december born… we all
        laugh…our parents were “twitterpated” alike spring in Bambi.
        There should be a law: no work- birthday’s only play!

  12. I’ve only just discovered you – very late to join the party.
    A colleague just received your book from Amazon and shared it with me.
    Now I recognise all the AWESOME things that happen whereas before I would have dismissed them. And its AWESOME to recognise the AWESOMEness that life gives you.
    Just today: I turn onto a busy highway and occasionally the lights from one block back are red which means there’s no traffic and I can turn straight onto the road without traffic – AWESOME.
    I love your blog. and I always work on my birthday, its way cool, all your workmates shower you with goodies : AWESOME !

  13. This one makes me sad because my birthday is at that dreaded time of August when school is just starting. I’m a sixth year college student so for the past 19 years I’ve had to be in school on my birthday unless it was on a weekend. Now what am I going to school for? Teaching. So of course from now until the time I retire I’m bound to work my birthday unless my birthday falls on a weekend. I mean how bad would it So for me, weekend birthdays = awesome!

    1. Hehe my birthdays the 28th of august, but that’s when you convince the random fun teacher that youu somehow managed to stuff into your schedule, to start the year off with a party!

      1. Mine is the 29th of August, so you do know exactly what I’m talking about! And you know I never thought about starting the year off with a party. That gives me something to look forward to. :)

  14. It’s my cousin’s birthday today! Two years ago I worked TWO weeks in a row (including my Birthday) Just so I could get a day to go see my fiance. Two weeks after my birthday. But last year, I got it off since it fell on a day off. It was an awesome day!

  15. I guess I read simply because it is awesome! It’s just a great way to start your day, like today is my birthday and I plan to do no work at all, so this post really makes my day! :)

  16. I book off my birthday EVERY YEAR. My birthday falls near the Victoria Day long weekend, so if it happens to actually fall on the weekend, I book the Friday off and have a 4-day weekend. Because I’m worth it. :D
    Plus, it helps me to avoid the awkwardness of the rest of my office completely forgetting it’s my birthday (I’m the office manager, so I make sure cards/gifts/birthday lunches are planned for everyone else).
    I’m completely baffled by those who can book a holiday on their birthday but don’t, and I feel great sympathy by those who are unable to.
    And I read 1000 Awesome Things because it is a positive way to start the day!

  17. I could hardly believe it when this came into my inbox (I subscribe via email). Today is my birthday, believe it or not! Unfortunately, being a teenager, I can’t take my birthday off from school; it sounds like an awesome idea, nonetheless!

  18. I totally agree! I know I always look forward to my bday and celebrate by going around town an scouring for the free bday deals. I wish I could take the full day off to do this…=v(

  19. I’ve just started reading 1000 Awesome Things because it reminds me that it’s awfully easy to be happy, if you let yourself!

  20. I read 1000 AWESOME THINGS because it’s changed my life.

    Thanks to Neil, I started:


    I also read it for the Awesome Community. (Freddo, Lara, and Laura — Thanks for the rockin’ Nerdapalooza yesterday!)

      1. It’s the thread that keeps on giving! Geektween is going around telling Heisenberg jokes, but no one is getting them. (Full disclosure, she had to look up who Heisenberg was before she got the jokes.)

        But at least it’s a change from her lastest schtick, which is to try to trick people into asking “What’s updog?”.
        GT: “Hey mom, when we get home from school can i have some updog?”
        Me: “what?”
        GT: “When we get home, can I have some updog?”
        Me: “What’s updog?”
        GT: “Oh, not much, what’s up with you?”
        Us: LOL

  21. OMG tmrws my birthday! I was hoping you would have a birthday awesome! Every year for the past 23 years i’ve taken the day off on my birthday but this year..this year i have a full time grown up job and so i can’t..but my birthdays on a friday so who cares! Thanks Neil you definitely made my day!

    1. Happy birthday, Sam! Welcome to the grown up world of full time jobs, hopefully in another few years you’ll have enough vacation time that you can once again join the fun on taking off for your birthday :)

  22. I read 1KAT (as I call it in my bookmarks tool bar) because I like waking up every morning and ready something positive. I like the feeling of realization when I think to myself, “Oh man, that _is_ awesome!”

    Sometimes I read it bleary-eyed before I’ve even breakfast (which is an Awesome meal). Sometimes, like today, I read it at work to take a break. Either way, it makes me stop and think about all the little things that make life Awesome and that no matter what, the day will bring something good, even if it’s just a little thing.

  23. You sound like a great boss! I read it because I like the creativity/simplicity of it. Although, I will be awfully sad once you’ve completed the 1000. Perhaps you can continue nonetheless?

  24. Read it to connect to the universality of all…we humans are in it together and knowing that someone on the other side of this spinny thing gets a kick out of bedhead baby, too, makes me smile. Despite life’s harsh realities, 1000 Awesome Things refocuses my eye to see the myriad small wonders making up my journey. Thanks for the daily inspiration, Neil!

    P.S. Your unique turn of phrase is a pleasure to read everyday…love it!

  25. I recently had my birthday, and so wish I took it off. But being in grad school I felt guilty about not showing up…and they also got me cake…two in fact! So people thinking to get me cake was awesome, but not having the guts to take the day off, was not!

  26. I read 1000 Awesome Things as soon as I get to work every morning, and it provides me with that boost of happiness that I need to start my day. I love to forward the posts to my friends to reminisce about moments we’ve shared that relate to it. E.g #545 Watching a movie in the basement with a group of friends. I love the many times that I have sat back and thought after reading them “Wow Neil – you are so right”.

    Thank you for starting this blog and thank you to everyone that comments. They definitely add to the wonderfulness of this site!

  27. I read 1000 Awesome Things because it helps me remember to be positive and know that there is awesome in all the suck in the world. It’s funny and easy to read. And of course because it makes me smile

  28. I just joined the community and ordered Neil’s book after a post on FB that tickled me. I continue because there can’t be too much happiness, joy, and awesome moments in our lives!

  29. Quite simply, it makes me laugh, smile, and cry. Somtimes all in one post. It’s been a rough few weeks and one of the things getting me through is 1000 Awesome Things. Can’t believe how fast it seems to be going now… I lent the Book to my best friend, she’s also having some tough times. :) Thanks for everthing Neil!

  30. I read 1000 Awesome Things, quite frankly, because you are awesome, Neil. I love the way you write; I love your honest emotions; I love how nice it feels to have someone relate to how I feel about the small things; and I love having a new thing to smile about in the morning.

    Thank you so much for actually getting it out there.

  31. I read because it puts a smile on my face in the morning and then during the day when I randomly think about the awesome thing it makes me smile all over again. It just shows that the little things really do make a world of difference. And tomorrow is my birthday so this post came at the perfect time! But no birthday break for me tomorrow sadly. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to today’s birthday people!!!

  32. I read 1000 awesome things because without it in the morning my day isn’t the same. It reminds me that even on the bad days there is still something awesome around me. And also it helps me miss my friends less because I know they have the same awesome things as me where they are.

    also.. I have been taking my birthday off since I was 10. My mom used to call me in sick to school, and I still take it off…I’m 23 :-)

    1. Hillary, make it a goal to continue this streak as long as possible! I’ve been booking mine as a holiday at work for the past 10 years…it is totally AWESOME!

  33. This is so appropriate because today is also my birthday and school was canceled due to snow. Happy 21st birthday to me! :D

  34. My birthday falls around Memorial Day weekend. This past year, I was fortunate that it landed on a monday where we were off from work for the holiday. Pretty Awesome!

  35. I read because:
    You write beautifully
    I can relate to just about every post
    Almost every post makes me laugh
    The ones that don’t will make me cry (the one about Dad coming home from work!!!)

    I usually try to get the day off AFTER my birthday… so I can go out on my birthday and not have to worry about work the next day!

  36. I LOVE this one! I have worked at a sandwich shop for almost ten years (managed for five and now I’m part time) but we totally had a unofficial code of conduct that was strictly observed. ‘The No Work On Your Birthday’ policy was right up there with the ‘Rock Paper Scissor’ epic battles for the undesirable jobs, generally best out of 97 or something equally ridiculous. Every birthday was very dutifully decorated on the day off calendar so there was absolutely no possibility for an accidental birthday shift :)

    I love reading 1000 Awesome Things because there is nothing quite as exciting first thing in the morning as discovering that I am not the only one who thinks that is Awesome! Since discovering your book, I have given a copy for every birthday, graduation, housewarming and any other gift giving situation because it is incredibly important to challenge people to look for the little bits of Awesome in every single day. Thanks!

  37. I always took my birthday off through college, but now that I get a limited number of vacation days (and the people I’d want to spend it with have to work anyway) I usually work my birthday. It’s the worst.

    And I read this site because it’s way too easy to only focus on the negatives! Every day I get to be like, “You know what? That IS awesome!” instead of all, “Work is boring and I’m grumpy.”

  38. Love this post because today is my birthday! haha Although I just have one class, I think I’ll still go because I’m a good student :) It’s my favourite subject anyways even if I always end up falling asleep!

    1. It is mine, too! And school was canceled because of the snow. Which sucks, because I like school. At least it was only two classes, and not a million. Happy birthday!

  39. Monday was my birthday, and the first time I took a holiday on my day! It was awesome, I was at a local nordik spa, outside all day in hot tubs, cold pools, and saunas – at -28 degrees, in a touque and a bathing suit! It’s awesome being Canadian!

    After that great day I will always take this as a holiday – when else can we take the time to be grateful for being born, and thinking about where our little lives will take us?

    thanks always for these amazing posts – you are a gift!!! and it’s a double blessing to know there are so many kindred spirits out there appreciating what you are doing for the world.

  40. I started reading 1000 awesome things because the postsecret blog mentioned it!

    I kept reading it because…
    1. Its so very positive and funny
    2. It makes me constantly think about the small things in life I loveeee (like when my friends save me a seat :))
    3. It helps me appreciate things I overlook but are actually really important to me…like fall!
    4. Its pretty awesome to read everyday and see soo many familar names commenting and enjoying life :)

    It took me ages to post on this blog but it’s pretty addicting after you do!

    1. It’s totally addicting! And you’ve already got the name for the group you should start to help people deal with this addiction..

      AA = Awesomethings Anonymous.. :)

      1. Wow Freddo, how ever did you figure out what AA stood for? Id imagined the day such a group would be needed and came up with the name accordingly. Impressive! :)

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