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?