Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How to contract pneumonia

It's not that I don't sort of love my job. I kind of do, occasionally, er, every once in awhile, I mean, on a perfect day, when everything is just so, and I slept enough, and I brought a really good lunch, and my co-workers are being super nice to me, and the patrons think I'm funny, and my house is flooded or something anyway, and I have a very exciting vacation coming up imminently.

But even though I am clearly just crazy about my job, I will not go to it under the absolutely flimsiest of pretexts. The faintest of backaches, sniffles, headaches or family illnesses can cause me to call in sick. I don't want to infect people, exacerbate my condition, alarm my co-workers, provide the community with less than 100%, or create a situation where I would have to miss much more time from work that I currently am. Everyday is a potential mental health day too, because any day I don't work is surprisingly good for my mental health. It cures depression, prolongs joy, staves off illness. So I like to keep a steady diet of calling in for those too.

The only downside to this, beside a recurring fear that when I call in that people are crying out "Again!" and cursing my name, is that it is hard to keep my sick hours properly stocked. Not only is it best to have a fair share of them to work with for normal illnesses, but it would be wise to keep a reserve of a month or two in case of some more serious illness. Getting to the six week mark has been a regular challenge to me.

So, perhaps perversely, I sometimes, rarely but sometimes, dig in my heels and insist on ignoring an illness and going to work anyway. This can help in the sick hours department, but it also helps me see what life is like for all those people I work with who have like 3,000 sick hours accumulated.

Which brings me to our current situation.

I got a sore throat. I felt generally achy and tired. I went to work anyway. I went one day, I went the next day.

My cold developed as it usually does. Today I have a runny nose, a cough. I'm very tired, but I'm not so sick I can't pretend that I'm not. Pretending is probably the operative word here. I went to bed fairly early last night, but I slept fitfully, occasionally drifting into an agonizing two coughs every three minutes cycle. My neck hurt from sleeping so deeply for the brief time I slept. I woke at dawn feeling generally crappy and thinking, most sensibly, about staying home.

"No, no. It's just a cold." I said to myself to see what it was like to be that sort of person. I had to say it like 30 times. I persevered. I prepared for my walk/bike commute while thinking hearty thoughts and sighing heavily. The sky was gray, but the weather forecast said it wouldn't rain until the evening. Who am I to reject the weather forecast that is right nearly 14 percent of the time! I am no meteorologist! So when I left home as it was raining lightly I was sure it was a fluke, maybe a gust of wind carrying in raindrops from some distant state where it really was raining.

"Maybe I should go home." I thought.

Instead I went back only to get a jacket and a hat. I was plucky!

The rain relented enough to lure me past the point of no return. Then it started raining again. Harder, and harder, and harder in a slow, steady increase. I pedaled through the water, my rising and falling knees being the first to truly soak. I had strangely forgotten how unpleasant the sensation of soaking jeans can be as well as how unsettling is that curious feeling of the water oozing its way down my legs into my shoes. 

The whole commute, as I often do, I wrote a blog post in my head. It was titled "How to contract Pneumonia". Well, here it is. Hours later, at work, my feet are still wet and cold. Good thing I prudently saved up all that sick time by going to work. I may need it.

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