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"Your manager wants you to come in next Monday when you are supposed to be out of town on vacation."

I find the words "Precisely how much is it worth to you?" are quite... clarifying in situations like this. Everything has a cost, including my indulgence with regards to planned vacation time. If it is that critical, you can afford to pay the cost.

For me, the situation was that I had precisely two conditions when I was in negotiations with my current Japanese employers. The first, and my biggie, was that I be guaranteed that I would always be able to come home for Christmas. They said they were in principle able to offer that, but that "In the event of severe business necessity, we might have millions of dollars riding on your skills, so we would need you in the office." I told them I could accept that, and that in that case I would bill them $X per day between December 20th and December 31st, where X was my yearly salary. They sort of blanched at the number. I told them "Well, we're already in principle agreed that I am getting Christmas off, and if you have millions riding on me that you will lose if I come back a week later, then you can afford a few trifling hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime to save them."

How does the song go... I'll be home for Christmaaaaaaaaas, you can count on meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee...
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