Monday, February 27, 2012

Sick day.

For most of my working life (from my first job at 15 until age 28) I was not the beneficiary of paid sick days - nor of any other employment benefit like health care, life insurance, vacation time, retirement savings, etc. For a little over two years, I have had the option of all of the above and today, I went home sick.

But, oh, how quickly we adjust to a new reality! What have I spent some of today doing? I was worried about the work going undone, the emails going unreturned, the lack of hard deadline for my return - will I be better tonight? In the morning? Will I have this cold as bad as John has had it, which has knocked him over for a week? I have been checking my BlackBerry, thinking of little things and sending an email or two to the co-workers I just left hours ago, and obsessing about one piece of casework in particular - where I can't save a life by being at work, but I can be the best listener they have right now, and that has some serious value.

But what I haven't done today is stop and be grateful that I am getting paid right now. My paycheck won't be less for having to miss work today - so I don't have to cut a few dollars from the budget to compensate, as I did for so long - and since I'm not at a super-small business*, I don't have to worry about retribution, lost hours, or a lost job, for not showing up. I don't have to lie about annoying allergies when I really have a head cold, and I get to hope that my 3-hour-nap and chicken noodle soup and tea and salt water gargles and Neti Pot will end up making me well sooner - which is what sick time is truly all about.

So before I let the last two years of safety net whitewash over the previous 13, I'm taking a moment to feel grateful while the tea water boils. Again.

* Not all very small businesses would engage in such practices. But some would, and do - and did in my working life. If they're not required to abide by FMLA or other labor laws, they definitely don't, for reasons both sensible - and evil.

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