Is Your Job Making You Sick?
For many Americans, new technology has created an array of electronic devices that effectively tether us to our jobs round the clock. Few gadgets have better managed to do this than BlackBerries -- those wireless, handheld computers that more than a million workaholic professionals use to check their e-mail anywhere -- bathrooms, restaurants, theaters -- and anytime, whether it's lunch, dinner, or after the kids are put to bed.
"We call them 'crack berries' because they're so addictive," says Elizabeth Weber, 47, who works for BISYS Insurance Services in Bethesda, Maryland. Breaking the habit has been hard. "When our family visited Epcot Center last April, my 16-year-old threatened to throw my BlackBerry into a lake," Weber recalls. "She kept telling me, 'Mom, you're supposed to be on vacation!'"
Credit Weber for actually taking one. These days, a quarter of Americans don't even use their full vacation leave -- even though the U.S. average of 10 days a year is downright stingy compared with countries such as Italy and France (25 to 30 days).