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Sick days, sick days
Dear new golden sick days
Sniffling and sneezing and hacking cough
Kept me at home on a rare day off.
Were I a teacher I’d go to work
Share all my germs, make my illness worse.
But the job I have now I can duty shirk
Without hurting a classroom of kids.
— (my revised, working girl version of the 1907 song “School Days”)
Yesterday I went to work even though I felt terrible. My head was aching, my throat was sore, and I knew I was battling something. But I had an afternoon meeting I didn’t want to reschedule, and I knew I could muscle through the day with a little help from ibuprofen and friends. My symptoms weren’t visually apparent, and I tried to keep mostly to myself so as not to share the joy. But when I mentioned to my supervisor that I was feeling a bit under the weather, she said, “Go home!”
I didn’t, but it struck me that I could.
I am a technical editor with eight hours of work daily. I get to work early and sometimes scrimp on my personal lunch hour because I like to get work done. But I have generous deadlines, an equally generous, perpetual pile of work, and I leave work daily knowing I did the best I could and that I can take up tomorrow where I left off today.
When I went to the refrigerator for my morning short cup of prune juice, I found none. Bummer. Significant bummer. So after work, after my yoga class, dressed in workout clothes, high-heeled sandals (because an alternate pair of shoes had been unnecessary for yoga), and my sunglasses, I entered the grocery store. Picked up two of the largest size prune juice bottles I could find and made my way to express checkout.
I found I was as embarrassed as I would have been purchasing a package of feminine products — when that was the only thing I was purchasing.
I still would be embarrassed to buy only a package of pads or tampons — which practically screams “I need this now!” — but at that moment I realized purchasing prune juice is equally loud. So I tried to create a story as to why I was purchasing so much. Such as:
“It’s the secret ingredient in my roasted tomato bisque. Some people use plum tomatoes; I use prune juice and tomatoes.”
As it turns out, neither the cashier nor the bagger asked the question, but a friend of my son’s, who is in management at the store, rushed over, bearing a huge grin, and, startled, eyed my purchase.
“What…” he started, but I cut him off.
“We’ve decided to drink prune juice instead of wine,” I told him spontaneously, tomato soup recipe story forgotten. “And we drink a lot.”
We laughed, I exited the store, drove home, entered my house, shot a photo of the prune juice — and then thought a photo of myself in my incongruous attire holding the two bottles would have been more effective. I thought it would make a funny status for Facebook, and then neither took the alternate photo nor posted to Facebook.