How I suck at calling in sick

When I was little girl I didn’t like to go to school. I liked it once I got there, but I was very attached to my mother and had separation issues. In retrospect I wish home schooling had been popular back then as I would have been a perfect candidate for it. But my poor mother needed a break.

One of my plots to avoid going to school was to pretend I was sick. Monday morning was the prime day for these ‘illnesses’ to overtake me. I was naïve enough to think no one would catch on, but my mother was no fool. She came up with a sure-fire way to avoid unnecessary truancy. This was her criteria for me to stay home from school:

1)  Fever

I know you are expecting more but this was it.

Illustration of a Sick Girl lying in bed

As I grew up and became a responsible adult this criteria stuck with me. It helped me push through when less dedicated people would have called for an intermission. It has created memories of driving to work with a barf bag in one hand, and the steering wheel in another.

It has been a badge of honor and reinforced my belief that 90% of success is showing up.

But have I taken it too far?

Last year I missed two full weeks of work due to a crazy upper respiratory infection which developed into pneumonia. Technically the first week was only four sick says, since Monday was a holiday. The fact that I needed to help justify the time off by including this detail about the holiday tells me I have some issues:

  1. Ego – How can my work team get along without me?
  2. Shame – What is wrong with me that I can’t push through and work even if I am sick?
  3. Workaholism – the 5-year-old potato-picking child comes out to chide me for being ‘lazy’ and indulging in time to recuperate.
  4. Difficulty with ‘sick’ criteria – I had a fever only for 3 days so how can I justify the rest of my sick days? After all I could wear a mask at work and take multiple changes of underwear for those uncontrolled coughing spells.
  5. Fear of disapproval – I hope I still have somewhat of a cough when I go back to work next week, as people may think I made the whole thing up.
  6. Over-responsibility – I have a commitment to my work team, my singing groups, my church choir, etc. I can’t let them down. This ties in with numbers 1-5.

I wonder if this is a baby boomer syndrome or if people from all ages struggle with issues of calling in sick. I’d love to hear your views on it to give me comfort that I’m not alone or better yet, show me a new way to look at things.


For more of my humor go HERE.

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2 thoughts on “How I suck at calling in sick”

  1. Thinking back to previous corporate jobs, I can so relate, Molly–especially to #5! Now that I’m my own boss and work from home, however, it’s even harder to give in and take sick time without some guilt (“well, I’m right here, I might as well do some work…”).

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