Spring Fever All Through the Week

Sick Dog

The bug that disrupted my stomach last week was merciful (or clueless) enough to do so on a Thursday, which is one of three acceptable weekdays to call in sick. As excruciating as retching over the toilet can be, there’s something even more uncomfortable, and it’s the task of telling your boss about it and redeeming one of your precious sick days. Even more unthinkable is to do so on a Monday or a Friday.

But the ultimate transgression is to call in sick on the first warm, sunny, gloriously spring-like day of the year. No matter how vividly you describe your gruesome symptoms, nobody believes you’re having anything but a Ferris Bueller kind of day.

So, I am thankful the bug attacked in the wee hours of a Thursday morning. By Friday, when the birds were really belting out their praise of spring and the sun was shining in full force, I was well enough to make a brave appearance at the office, weak and subdued but displaying a valiant effort to catch up on the paperwork that had done its own vomiting on my desk. It’s common practice, after all, to toss any confusing or unwanted paperwork on the desk of the one person greedy enough to stay home while everyone else is holding down the fort. Serves her right.

Not that I’m complaining. My employer is kind enough to grant five paid sick days a year, and I repay that kindness by never using more than two.  In fact, I always arrive early the morning after a sick day, and I take an abbreviated lunch to compensate for having been paid to spend a day in bed.  Guilt aside, the extra effort is necessary just so I can catch up. Sick or not, I must complete my work, which is patiently waiting for my return. Tapping its foot in passive-aggressive irritation, but patient nonetheless.

Some of the other people in my department have more time-sensitive tasks. Lucky dogs. When they take their sick days, my employer can rest assured that the rest of us will step up and make sure everything gets done. Again, my own obligations are detained until the party in question recovers from her own variety of spring fever. Recuperating from others’ illnesses takes its toll on me. No wonder my immune system is vulnerable to such nasty viruses as the one that so recently visited me.

It makes me wonder, who’s really paying for these sick days?

If I Were a Yahoo

Gee, I'm glad I don't have to do this job from my comfy home. Getting dressed is so much more fun!

Gee, I’m glad I don’t have to do this job from home. Getting dressed and fighting traffic is so much more fun!

Just when I think I have myself figured out, I go and make a decision so directly in opposition to who thought I knew myself to be. Like that time I turned down the opportunity to telecommute.

For years, I wished I could work from home. The types of jobs I held were perfectly suited for it, requiring only a computer and a phone. I hated driving 45 minutes to work in good weather and more than an hour in the snow. There had to be better ways to spend a small fortune than on gas. Chocolate and coffee came to mind.

Eventually, something nearly as good as telecommuting came along: a job so close to home that I never even had to get on the highway. I had time to listen to two songs on the radio as I took the little side road to my office each morning and back again for my lunch hour. I went weeks between trips to the gas pump. Then, they made the offer. Management asked for volunteers to work from home. In return, participants would suffer some newly-created, less-than-ideal shifts. It was time for a little SWOT analysis: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

I was confident I already knew telecommuting’s strengths and opportunities. After all, I had been dreaming of such a break for a long time. Rolling out of bed and logging into the computer while my coffee brewed, wearing my pajamas all day, saving on gas, throwing in a load of laundry between customer calls, avoiding annoying bosses and coworkers. But suddenly, the offer seemed even more burdened with weaknesses and threats. Like all the toilet paper I’d have to buy once I was going at home more than at work. The worthless schedule . Sure, I would be at home, but I’d be working when I was used to being out. And my cats. While I love them, I did not relish the idea of their walking on my computer and sticking their butts in my face while I tried to assist customers in a professional manner.  And come to think of it, I would miss the camaraderie of my coworkers and the sage advice of my manager. At home, I wouldn’t be able to poke my head around the cubicle and get a second opinion on anything. It would be only a matter of time before I drew a face on a volleyball, named it and started consulting it on important business matters.

I conjured a frightening image of myself on the verge of insanity: unkempt, wearing pajamas at noon, holed up in a closet and whispering to my customers so the feline predators wouldn’t find me, isolated and depressed without any coworkers with whom to commiserate. My boss would forget all about me, and my prospects within the company would be extinguished. So, I turned down the chance to do something I had for so long thought I desperately wanted. Did I make the right decision? I don’t know. Let me ask Lucille Volleyball.