I really, really, really didn’t want to call in sick today, and I feel proud a little I was able to make it this far. I felt that coming back from a week-long vacation one day and being sick the next before a weekend looks kinda bad. There’s a lot of sickness at work, too. My boss is sick (but came in), we have some sick techs, and some sick salespeople as well. When only about 30 people work in your company, sickness like this leaves a lot of empty spots. I don’t know if it’s just a guy thing, but there’s kind of a machismo lost if you call in sick. I could be at death’s door, and still feel guilty if I have to say, “Aw man... I am so sick.” I always feel like someone’s not going to believe me, or I am being a wuss.
My dad NEVER admitted when he was sick. Part of this stems from the fact he hates the medical profession so much, but when I was growing up, my father only stayed home from work twice from sickness: when he had some kind of “martian death flu” (so to speak, just some horrible flu) and another time he had a hernia. Sadly, as I started to study his past, I found out that it would have been best if he stayed home... the former coworkers I spoke to generally didn’t like him very much. My mother tried to get him to stay home, but my dad had this, “Illness is all in the mind” philosophy going, and expected others to follow his path. He feels the same way about age. My mother did her best to carry through with his will over us, and often sent me to school sick... and they promptly sent me back. “He’s got a fever!” they’d say. “It’s only a few degrees,” my mother would reply, rolling her eyes. “What’s normal body temperature anyway? It’s just an average. He’s fine...” I actually had a “temperature limit” of when I could stay home. 101 or over, I got to stay home. If I was 99-100, I’d have to go to school, and then THEY would send me home... if my mom was sober, which is a different problem altogether; when you’re a kid, you can’t exactly call yourself in sick.
By the way, never put an oral thermometer on a light bulb. It will raise the temperature to an amazing level that most medical specialists would pronounce you as brain dead, but it will not go back down. The red “mercury” (really, alcohol), will never return back down the scale. Just... thought I would pass that along.
There was also a “vomit rule” where in order to actually claim vomiting as a symptom, I had to actually spew chunkage in front of a reliable witness, which was almost always my mom. Since I really hate ralphing to the point of avoiding it when it might have been better to just pray to the porcelain god, and many times it was at night and barely made it to the toilet, this was rare. Throwing up at school, however, was a much more reliable way to get back home. Gross, but there’s a certain... dramatic flair to punctuating how sick someone is when you’re a kid and witness or create your own Technicolor yawn. People would wipe yakk off on flaming wood just to avoid touching it.
Then I had a job where I got sick a lot. I am not sure what it was about Chesapeake Knife and Tool, but I got sick all the time there. I thought it was the mall, but I worked at other stores there over the years, and I never got as sick as I did there. But because I got sick a lot, I kept getting into trouble and lost pay, and the guilt just got worse. They also used this against me when they laid me off in that... odd manner.
There’s always the argument, “Better stay home and not get the rest of the workplace sick,” which makes sense, but at least in America, it’s rare in most companies to have this policy. In the IT industry, it’s much more common, but most corporate offices always micromanage to the point of losing focus of the big picture (the hazards of metric-centered production). I can telecommute, which is a bonus, but I have to admit, I prefer doing work at the office.
But looking around today... half staffed... it seems to make better sense to keep the sickness away. I have always wondered about how a very bad flu epidemic, like Asian bird flu or something, would spike telecommuting to a new era.