I’m a small business owner with three employees — me, myself, and I. You could stretch that to two more, if you count my cats, who serve as office staff, reception, and coat check. Absenteeism is not much of a problem. If someone is absent, it’s me, and it means I am on vacation, or sick.
As I sit here at my computer, having slipped into pajamas shortly after arriving home from work at 7:30 p.m. I am congested and sniffly. I have considered an almost-sore throat for the last three mornings upon arising, but it always gets better after I have drunk my first glass of water for the day. Allergies, Houston temperature changes (60 one day, 40 the next), or the beginnings of a cold that won’t make a commitment? Who is to say? The fact is, if this is the worst that it gets, I will probably just drink more fluids, breathe stem, hit the neti pot, and get more rest until I feel decent again.
I insist that I’m not contagious, because I’m not running a fever, and I’m not sneezing or coughing — I just have really annoying congestion and drainage. But today, one of my clients came in — a five-year-old germ factory. She exhibited full-blown cold symptoms, all except for the fever — but she was cranky enough that it might be on the way. Suddenly, I feel the need to take better care of myself.
Our Puritan work ethic has made this country great — and our unwillingness to stand down, even with a legitimate illness, costs US businesses about $150 billion a year. This phenomenon has been called “presenteeism,” rather than “absenteeism,” and I think it is also a contributing factor in our overall state of wellness, or lack thereof. People have valid reasons for not wanting to miss work. However, think of this: if you take a day or two off to really get well, aren’t you coming out ahead, as opposed to never quite getting over whatever it is you have, and limping along, sub-par, for weeks?
I think I’ll pop a couple of vitamin C and turn in for the evening — it is almost 9:30 p.m. A lighter schedule the rest of the week will help. Sometimes, stopping is the best way to get a fresh start.