Tuesday, January 13, 2009
(This is me when I'm at work, which I am today but wasn't yesterday.)
Do you ever watch the wonderful television show CBS Sunday Morning? Charles Osgood is the host, and the format is sort of 60 Minutes light. Each show includes four or five segments devoted to fare such as an interview with a popular star; an exploration of an art form or an artist; commentary by someone like Mo Rocca or Ben Stein on some issue of the day; a visit (usually by Bill Geist) to some weird little festival or happening (usually in rural America, but this past Sunday to the world championships in Elephant Polo); and so forth. It’s a pleasant and unstressed way to spend 90 minutes.
This past Sunday, there was a feature piece exploring the emotion of guilt. There were interviews with a Catholic priest and a Jewish rabbi, among others, and some person said that the difference between Catholic guilt and Jewish guilt is that Catholics feel guilty for things they’ve done, while Jews feel guilty for things they’ve failed to do.
I feel guilty today, but even though I was raised as a Catholic, it seems to be Jewish guilt I’m feeling. What did I fail to do, for which I’m feeling guilty? I didn’t go to work.
I don’t know why I’m feeling guilty about this. I was sick on Friday night, coughing and with a runny nose. I was similarly incapacitated on Saturday and Sunday. I popped decongestants and anti-histamines every four hours, slept about twelve hours each day, and felt generally lousy all weekend. Come Monday morning, I was still coughing and my nose was still running and I had a tickle in my throat and I knew there was no way I could go to work and not feel even more miserable. So I called in and told them I wasn’t going to be there.
And I've felt guilty about it all day.
It’s not like I've spent the day at the beach. I didn’t lie to anyone. I've mostly stayed wrapped up in a blanket on the couch, drinking juice and swallowing more pills. Sure, I watched an Abbott & Costello movie, followed by a Three Stooges movie, but what was I supposed to do? Flagellate myself?
Every twenty minutes or so I’d cough my fool head off, bring up a goodly-sized glob of brownish phlegm, and either feel too hot or too cold. When I tried to take a nap, I couldn’t sleep because I was sweating under the covers. I got out of bed, drank some more juice, and then started feeling cold, so I took a hot shower. And the entire day, at least intermittently, I thought about whether the folks at work believed that I was really sick or if they may have thought that I was just taking the day off because I felt like goofing around instead of working.
Why? Why do I have to have a guilt trip along with a cold?
I mean, if I went into work, I would not only have felt crummy all day, but I would also have exposed my co-workers to this cold or flu or whatever it is. I should feel good about that part of it; about not making them sick, shouldn’t I?
And why do I feel the need to tell you this? I’m even trying to justify my day off by writing about how miserable it is. What the hell do YOU care?
(OK, I know some of you actually do care, but that’s not the point. Why do I feel the need to tell you about it?)
I am allotted 21 various days off aside from holidays (they’re supposed to be 15 vacation days and 6 sick days, but my boss is very flexible.) Whenever I use one of the sick days, I feel as though I’m cheating him. I’m sure he doesn’t feel that I’m a louse of an employee, goldbricking on his dime. I've been employed by him for 18 years now. If he thought I was a liar and a cheat, I'm sure he would have fired me by now. And I know damn well I’m not. Still, I feel guilt.
What part of my heritage has screwed me up so royally? Perhaps there’s a nasty bit of DNA that makes me feel as though I’m not worthy to take time off from work. Maybe my parents instilled an ethic in me that makes it near impossible to just stop working and take time off to heal. Whatever it is, it sucks.
I mean, I should just be sitting on the couch right now, drinking my juice and swallowing more pills while enjoying another Three Stooges movie, but here I am trying to make my day not seem like a total slugfest via typing this crap. Not only am I feeling guilty, but I’m boring the shit of you, too.
If I stay home again tomorrow, I think flagellating myself would be best. Then I won’t feel so bad. I do have some Laurel & Hardy to watch, though. Tough call.
(You’re reading this on Tuesday, so that means I didn't stay home again. I have no stripes. Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy will be their usual funny selves some other day. I do thank you for wading through the above and receiving little or nothing for your efforts. I feel so guilty for subjecting you to it. But, probably the only reason you did read the whole thing is because you would have felt guilty if you hadn't. I know that’s how I would have felt.
Aaaaaarrrrrggggghhhhh! Stop it, brain! Leave me alone! What have I ever done to you? I mean, aside from sending you on fully-paid very expensive vacations via the illegal use of...
No, best not to go into that here. If the FBI got hold of this, I might have to plead NOT guilty, and we all know that would be a lie.)
Soon, but I'm not promising anything.