Paid vacations (Photo: Filip Brala/PIXSELL) Paid vacations (Photo: Filip Brala/PIXSELL)

I had my ‘aha!’ moment a few years ago when I had some friends visit from Canada. Aside from my myself, all my friends from back “home” are very successful, especially in regards to family, career, house, cottage, car, motorcycles, vacations, etc. Well, in my defense, I’ve never put too much weight on checking-off most of those boxes anyway. 

But I digress. My moment of awe for permanent jobs came when I took my friends to a restaurant in Split. I wasn’t going to pretend and reach for my wallet because, hey, at the time the bill was more than my monthly paycheque. Then one of them grabbed the bill and said he’d pay for everyone because it was a Friday and his salary had just been automatically deposited into his account. This was about five years ago, before I had a capable smartphone or any kind of online banking app, so even the fact that he could check his account balance on his phone was amazing. 

It was the idea of him being on vacation and traveling around while still getting paid which really struck me. It was just strange. All I’ve ever known throughout my entire 38 years is you get paid when you work. If you don’t, well, you don’t. 

Now it’s much clearer to me why my uncle has been harping on me about the travesty of me not having a permanent job. And it’s not just paid vacations. There are other benefits as well, such as job security (well, whatever that is), pensions, and perhaps a dental plan or something like that. 

That being said, I’ve still avoided the lure of the permanent job. Maybe it’s a problem with Croatian taxes or whatever, but I’ve never seen the point of sacrificing 3/4 of my earning power for the odd paid vacation. Croatians have a warped sense of what things should cost (I’ll tackle that issue some other time): salaries are simply way too low to justify the country’s high cost of goods and services. Perhaps their collective tolerance for low salaries comes down to the fact that well over 80 percent of the population has never paid rent in their lives. I don’t know.