Tuesday, June 16, 2015

I Feel Sick

Recently my Facebook feed contained a friend's post about one of her subordinates at work. Said subordinate had taken two days off because of a misspelled illness, very close to the time she was to have completed an on-line course for an advanced degree. My friend posted because of incompatibility: either between a misspelled word and an advanced degree or because of the timing of the illness and the deadline for completion. In either case, the post generated some interesting comments. This happened around the same time that another friend spoke about a classic Nunzilla, this one the head of a Catholic school whose policy was that a doctor's note was required for any sick day and a funeral card must be produced to verify that sort of absence. Of course, I got to thinking.

On one occasion during my growing-up years, my mother let me miss school to go with her on a bus trip to New York City. I don't remember anything at all about the Big Apple day, but I've never forgotten this uncharacteristic behavior of my mother, who actually lied in writing an absence note for me, saying that I had been sick.

Perhaps this is why, when my kids got to be of high school age, I introduced them to the concept of Mental Health Days. I told them that in adulthood there were occasions when the stars were not in alignment, and a day off from work was in order. Throughout their three years of high school, I said, I would be willing to sign one absence note per semester with no questions asked. It could be because it was a Monday and they'd had too much weekend, the term paper was due and it was far from finished, a major test was coming up and much additional study time was needed, a broken heart from a break-up with a beloved, or anything else. To the best of my recall, my daughter was striving for a perfect attendance award and never partook; whereas, her brothers only ever completed their term papers due to this loophole (I think Tom claimed the broken heart option once). I figured they'd learn about time management/due dates when they were in college and hoped they'd land jobs where unscheduled paid time off didn't require six kinds of documentation. At the time I was working at a Quaker school where a very occasional Mental Health Day was a legitimate reason for an absence.

I've never had a job where I had to keep account of subordinates' absences, though I did have to read a lot of questionable "sick" notes when I worked at the school. My Facebook friend, I suspect, is the sort who would look the other way as far as the days off so close to the exam. The spelling -- well, that's between the candidate and the college.

In looking for a graphic to illustrate this post, I stumbled across this site. The spelling and grammar errors notwithstanding, it could be just the product you need if your sweetie broke your heart last night!


stitchinpenny said...

I was the person who was responsible for signing time cards sent to the government to get paid for the work we did. Most people were honest and did a great job - but I had one girl who took 130 hours of her 40 hours of authorized relocation time. She also used to spend hours sleeping in the one stall bathroom shared with 5 other women. I finally got permission from my boss to fire her because she curled up in a blanket in her chair when the highest ranking military gentleman (a full colonel) was coming to get briefed by me on what we had accomplished. I had been previously blocked because her live in boyfriend's dad was a high ranking civilian employee. The rest of the employees were happy to see her go because when I told her she had to actually work 40 hours a week she filed a complaint so I had to come in before everyone and leave after everyone so the rest of the employees had to work fairly normal hours. We went back to everyone working their job and getting it done - most worked more hours than they actually logged, and sometimes when the government had a down day they just went home too. The world is great if you just do your job and don't try to take advantage. Mental health days are acceptable, a few hours off for lunch with the kids or spouse all of that just log the hours as you work them so I don't have to commit a felony and we are all happy.

LoieJ said...

I had a job quite a few years ago where we had a decent amount of sick leave/time off for those things that could be "proven" such as having a doctor's note. But the other category if time off, "just because I said so" no matter the reason was quite limited. This two tiered system made sense to me. Our longer level sick leave could be banked, and it could be shared with someone who had a long illness, for example.

Janet O. said...

Interesting post. Made me think.
Trying to recall if I ever tried to take an unexcused absence. I didn't have perfect attendance, but back in the day I was one to play by all the rules. I'll have to ask my children how they perceived me in this regard. I think I called in an excuse a time or two that felt very flimsy to me, but they may tell me differently.

Barbara Anne said...

For most of my decades working as a nurse, when you called in sick, they asked when you'd be returning to work - as if you knew when your fever would break or you'd quit throwing up! If you were absent 3 or more days, you needed a doctor's note if you weren't an in-patient in the hospital.

It never crossed my mind to miss school when not ill. Was I a goodie-two-shoes, dumb, or what?:)

In nursing school, the housemothers in the dorm were worse than living at home. There was no "illness" that they didn't verify.

I've long thought an occasional mental health day is essential and everyone would be a better employee if they were't at work on the few days when they shouldn't be there.

Ida from Central PA said...

If you ask my classmates, you'll probably hear that I was the "Goodie Two Shoes" that did everything by the book. I was the one with perfect attendance and straight A's. Both are far from the truth. :) I usually walked a mile to/from the school bus stop and was the first one there. I volunteered after school, and got involved in the 'support' side of sports. Yup, the Goodie Two Shoes.

I took mental health days. There were days I just didn't "deal" and I was 'sick'. My Mom would give me a curious look, but would let me stay in my pajamas. Most days, I stayed home, in my room reading. There were days she'd want to take me out to lunch or do errands -- I realize now that it was mostly because we didn't get to spend a whole lot of time together, and not her trying to see how 'sick' I really was. I *never* wanted to go to see a doctor, or to the hospital; so the very rare times she'd ask if I needed to see anyone (and she always had to ask ... I'd never ask to go!) that I said 'Yes, please', she knew that my world was pretty well wrecked at that point. (Even still, if it bugs me enough to go to the Doctor, my husband knows that I'm at the end of my rope.)

When I became a Mom, I made my son go to school. We dealt with bullying issues together -- a lot of times that is why he didn't want to go, because some 'threat' had been made the day before, and the showdown was to happen at recess, etc. When he got to high school, I also gave him one day a semester that he could choose to stay home. He did have the admonition(s) that he had to keep to the house -- I needed to work, and he was old enough to stay home alone -- because we could both get in trouble if he was seen as 'truant.'

For his 16th birthday, I let him sleep in. When he woke up, and wandered downstairs, He questioned, "I guess I'm missing school today?" I double checked with him about tests and reports -- we had talked a couple times earlier in the week about what was due when, and I thought I was right that it was a 'clear' day. I told him that I thought he might like to go get his driver's permit, and get some lunch. :) He had been a little upset about not spending his b'day with his buddies at school, but that changed everything. :) I told him that if he *really* wanted, we could skip lunch and I could take him to school after his permit test, and we could do just do dinner. He chose to spend the day w/ his Momma.

My workplace has 'unlimited' sick days, but after 7 then you need to go on to 'disability' and need a doctor's note. I have 'flex' time -- my boss doesn't really care if I'm here at the office 9-5 (because I'm not --- I do 6:30-4:30 four days a week), as long as I am here 'most' days, and work gets done. I am on call 24/7 for our computer systems, so I'm often up/on in the middle of the night working on something -- if me being up in the middle of the night makes it easier for the majority of the team, then that's when I'm going to do the change-over, or whatever needs to be done. If there are days that I need a 'health' day, or if my lunch with a friend runs long, it's okay. In the long run, I put in more than 40 hours a week but I feel that I am adequately compensated when it comes to bonuses and raises. I'm thankful.

As for spelling errors, some medical issues can get the best of many of us. If I question, I go on to the CDC and check spelling. If I'm completely muffing it, I'll use google, and it does its best to figure out what I'm attempting to spell. :)