Monday, May 3, 2010

Sometimes you just need to call in sick

Last Friday, I called in to work sick. The sad thing is I really was.

I’m a firm believer that sometimes you have to get out of the office, grab a fishing pole and head out to the nearest lake under the pretense that you’re just not feeling well. And the sudden “24-hour flu” is a lot easier to explain than the need to do something spontaneous.

But to have to take a day off because you actually feel like your head’s about to explode – well, it’s just a waste of a perfectly good sick day, if you ask me.

I do a variety of things in order to keep the Farr Family Coffers filled with spare change. I’m a teacher, a school bus driver, I write a few stories, take a few photographs, sometimes teach guitar lessons, and at the end of each 11-hour work day, I’m tired. Just like I know you are. So I see nothing wrong with taking an unplanned vacation, every now and then, veiled in head-exploding sinus infections, in order to “clear the cobwebs” from my stressed-out life.

Once, I took the day off and just sat and read books in the local library where it was peaceful and quiet. Once, I rode my motorcycle around the countryside, just to see what the countryside looked like when I was at work. Once, I rented an armful of videos and watched every one of them while I lounged on the couch in my pajamas. But not this time. This time I really didn’t feel well.

One of my college professors once said that the best way to kick a sickness was to take the day off, attack it with everything you had, and then get back to work as soon as possible. Three days on the couch floating on a cloud of antihistamines would just about do the trick. But if you pressed on, working while you were “under the weather,” then you’d feel bad for a longer period of time, you wouldn’t be able to do your best at work, and in the end you’d probably develop walking pneumonia and end up in the hospital.

He was a very smart man, and very rarely missed a day of work. He’s dead now, but I learned a lot from him – especially how to work hard, be honest, do your best, and adapt for every situation.

With that in mind, I’ve developed a philosophy that embraces impulsiveness and spontaneity in the face of feeling like a rat in a maze. Of course it’s best to only be spontaneous once or twice a year, because more than that would most definitely raise eyebrows, and raised eyebrows lead to the unemployment line and soup kitchens.

If you’re feeling like a hamster stuck on a wheel, then a cane pole and a fishing hole may just be the right thing to rest your weary mind. One day of sitting on the bank of a stock pond, waiting for that bobber to bob, should be just enough relaxation to get you through another six months of wheel turning.

If you feel you can no longer take the sound of your co-worker’s voice as she gives the boss every excuse in the book for not doing what she was supposed to be doing, then a day of quiet in the local library should cleanse the squeaking and squawking from your ears.

If you’re stuck all day in a windowless cubicle or office, the florescent lights doing their best to suck the life out of you, then it behooves you to get behind the wheel, let the top down, and follow the road wherever it may lead. A day on the backroads, letting the wind blow through your hair, is enough to remind you that there is indeed life beyond those walls of commerce.

And when they ask how you are and where you were, just say, “I was sick, but I feel a whole lot better now.”

Unless of course you were sick, like I was. No fishing pond. No library. No wind blowing through my hair (or should I say, over my scalp). Just sick. Laying on the couch, meds every four hours, lots of liquids and tissue, asleep most of the time, sick.

What a waste of a perfectly good day.

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