Sick Days in a Connected Age

Have you had a sick day lately? Lemme tell ya, they’re not what they used to be.

I had a bit of an intestinal episode this week (kind of like this one) which knocked me completely off my feet for a day. I couldn’t have lifted my head if my pillow was on fire, much less gone into work. So I spent the day in bed praying for death and trying to eat a cracker every four hours.

My working life has been long enough that it stretches back in time to pre-internet, pre-cell phone days. (Remember those days? When we all rode mastodons to work and died at 30? Good times.) Back in those days, when you took a sick day, that meant you didn’t work. You called your boss one time, with the worst sick voice you could muster, to tell him you weren’t coming in, and that was all the contact you had with the office that day. Then you could spend the day sleeping and moaning and trying to find something on TV after “The Price is Right” but before “General Hospital.”

But now, when I take a sick day, what that means is at least a continuous stream of texts and instant messages throughout the day, answering questions from the office. As a result of that, I may be coaxed into trying to dial into work from my home computer to deal with more pressing issues. If my health situation doesn’t preclude me from operating heavy machinery and/or the situation at work is particularly dire, I might even have to schlep to the office to collect my work computer and take it home so I could work from there. The only benefit of that kind of sick day being that my co-workers don’t have to dive out of the way to avoid my germs as if I were carrying a live electrical cable.

So, needless to say, my recent sick day was not the quiet, recuperative experience that I remember from days of yore. Thanks to all this connectedness, there’s no amount of puke that can allow you to skip out on work.

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