There’s Something in the Air…

The flu is making its rounds through the office this month. Up and down the halls you can hear coughing and sneezing and hacking of mucus from the lungs. The latest to fall ill is our department head. My cubicle is located right outside his office, so it’s got me a little paranoid.

He came in to work on Monday all red faced and puffy cheeked, breathing out of his mouth, barely able open his eyes, in denial that it was a cold or the flu, probably just allergies. That morning he had an interview in his office with a candidate for a recent job posting. He promised the potential new employee and the rest of the interview panel, four in total crowded at the round table in his office, that he would sit off in the corner, so as not to infect anyone, forgetting that the flu is airborne and the mere fact that they’re in his infested office, they are most certainly all going done.

Later that day, he came around the corner, handed me an empty tissue box and asked me to order some more, and without realizing the significance of the passing of the baton, I took the box from him and threw it away. Then I heard him cough, and blow his nose, and I jumped from my chair so fast and ran to the bathroom to scrub my hands and arms! I even topped it off with a pump of hand sanitizer. You can never be too careful.

It seems the flu has been particularly nasty this year. North Carolina has seen around 600 new flu cases since the end of January, and new numbers reveal the death toll has risen up to 44 people.  Now, I don’t know “normal” flu statistics, but with our modern medicine, 44 still seems a little high. I heard from a coworker that a doctor said this season’s flu shot isn’t working too well. I don’t know if that was his personal opinion or a professional observation, but the way people are dropping around here, it’s definitely made me conscious about touching my eyes, nose, and mouth, eating all the fruit and Vitamin C that I can whenever I feel my throat getting scratchy, or my nose getting stuffy. I might even resort to taking a shot of apple cider vinegar—the miracle juice when it comes to any type of aliment, that is if you can keep it down; it tastes almost as bad as cough syrup.

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One thing that has always puzzled me about my fellow Americans is that we can be so sick we’re throwing up our internal organs, but we’ll still come to work. I hate this “live to work,” “work hard, work harder,” mentality. It’s that same mentality that forces moms-to-be to work until they’re about to drop their babies right on the office linoleum. That same mentality forces them return from maternity leave before they’re ready because at a lot of companies, their job isn’t guaranteed.

Yes, I know the Bible says if you don’t work, you don’t eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10), but at this rate, you don’t even have time to eat because you’re working so much, and worrying about working, and even dreaming about working! Work has become life. Somewhere in there you gotta squeeze in a day of rest, and for heaven’s sake if you’re sick, STAY HOME!

I commend my boss for coming in on Monday, setting an example for those who abuse sick days, but he could have easily worked from home, allowing himself time to heal and recover. Most offices only allow 1 to 2 sick days, which I personally don’t think is long enough (again, that “work hard, work harder” mentality), but if you need to, take an extra day. Your co-workers will thank you. A lady once told me that the groomer’s office she takes her dogs to had been completely shut down because everyone had the flu.

It’d be a shame if the entire HR department was out sick next week because of one person. No one would get paid, no one would have their employee problems resolved, managers would hire whomever they choose, including their no good, lie on their rusty dusties, can’t keep a job, grown-ass man-children—there’d be total chaos!

The world needs HR. The world needs a healthy HR.

Flu be warned. If things get any worse, I may have to bring my Lysol spray and hose some people down.

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