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posted by Justin - 2013-02-18 08:48:31

On Staying Home

So, I'm a bit sniffly today. It's Sunday as I write this, so it's not like I have to go to work today. If I had to, I absolutely could. I ran 8 miles yesterday, and it wasn't a problem.

But I don't get deathly sick very often, and considering I now have a bunch of sick days at my new job, I might as well make use of them. They don't roll over, so if I'm actually sick, I really should call in.

The fact that I have to write this down and remind myself of it is an example of how so many jobs don't give their employees sick days at all. My previous job, if I didn't go in, I didn't get paid, and it was, you know, difficult to pay rent. I was training for a marathon and occasionally injured to the point where I was limping, but I only took one day off when I was scheduled to work last year (to graduate from graduate school).

I'm not writing this to complain - my current job treats us very well and indeed encourages us to take sick days.

I'm saying that it's really disquieting how many organizations treat sick employees like lazy ones. Think about the people handling your food, driving your taxis, anything without legit benefits, and how they had better show up to work if they want their money. And then think about how they have to ride that subway with you, sick, to get to wherever they need to be. It's no wonder things spread so quickly when people are forced to be present even when they can't operate at full strength.

There shouldn't be unlimited sick days. But we shouldn't automatically look at someone who is ill or under the weather and chooses to stay home as someone who is shirking their duties.

Merely being present shouldn't be our goal. I know that I, myself, am guilty of showing up when I shouldn't have, partially because I've needed the money, and at other times because it was considered rude to stay home (when I was in Korea). I even came to work after a night of food poisoning and they had to force me to go to the doctor.

I talk a lot about being healthy. But health also includes allowing your body to repair when it's not 100%. I'm stubborn, and I feel uneasy taking a legitimate rest (I don't even sleep very much, after all). I don't need to push myself through a long run when my throat is rubbed raw. I think I do it because I'm scared I will lose my discipline and get out of shape/unhealthy/etc if I don't kick my own butt at all times. But considering I'm not going to suddenly stop eating well, I know, logically that I will be fine. Yet it's hard to hear that simple message over the din of determination that got me through a lot of things. With that said, I need to listen to my own words, and if you have a job that thinks of you as a full person with needs and weaknesses and not an automaton (much as I pretend to be one sometimes), then consider yourself very lucky. It's very difficult to appreciate a job that doesn't appreciate you, that's for sure.

I'm sure I'll be well enough to go to work on Tuesday. But if I'm not, I'm going to force myself to stay the hell home and not feel guilty about it.

Peace and love,
Justin PBG
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