How to Escape the Office: Ask for Forgiveness, Not Permission

“We’re not going to expense the phone.”

“I’m not asking you to.”

Silence. Then a nod, a laugh, and a crooked smile of resignation.

“OK, then – it’s fine.”

And that was that, lickity-split. Forty-four-year old Dave Camarillo, lifelong employee, had cracked the code and started his second life.

He hadn’t been fired. He hadn’t been yelled at. His boss seemed to be handling the whole situation quite well. Granted, Dave delivered the goods on the job, and it wasn’t like he was doing naked snow angels in client meetings, but still – he had just spent 30 days in China without telling anyone.

“It wasn’t half as hard as I thought it would be.”

Dave works among more than 10,000 employees at Hewlett-Packard (HP), and – against all odds – he actually likes it. He has no desire to start his own company and has spent the last seven years doing tech support for customers in 45 states and 22 countries. Six months ago, however, he had a small problem.

She measured 5’2″ and weighed 110 pounds.

Was he, like most men, afraid of commitment, unwilling to stop running around the house in Spider Man underoos, or inseparable from the last refuge of any self-respecting man, the PlayStation? No, he was past all that. In fact, Dave was locked and loaded, ready to pop the big question, but he was short of vacation days and his girlfriend lived out of town. Waaaaay of town – 5,913 miles out of town.

He had met her on a client visit to Shenzhen, China, and it was now time to meet the parents, logistics be damned.

Dave had only recently begun to take tech calls at home, and well, isn’t home where the heart is? One plant ticket and one T-Mobile GSM tri-band phone later, he was somewhere over the Pacific en route to his first seven-day experiment. Twelve time zones hence, he proposed, she accepted, and no one was the wiser stateside.

The second filed trip was a 30-day tour of Chinese family and food (pig face, anyone?), ending with Shumei Wu becoming Shumei Camarillo. Back in Palo Alto, HP continued its quest for world domination, neither knowing nor caring where Dave was. He had his calls forwarded to his newly begotten wife’s cell phone and all was right in the world.

Now back in the U.S. after hoping for the best and preparing for the worst, Dave had earned his Eagle Scout mobility badge. The future looks flexible, indeed. He is going to start by spending two months in China every summer and then move to Australia and Europe to make up for lost time, all with the full support of his boss.

The key to cutting the leash was simple – he asked for forgiveness instead of permission.

“I didn’t travel for 30 years of my life – so why not?”

That’s precisely the question everyone should be asking – why the hell not?

Excerpted from The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss.

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