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Jen M.L. Headshot

Do Me a Favor and Keep Your Sickness To Yourself

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We went to a public playscape the other day and I was surprised my children didn't come home with The Bubonic Plague. It seemed like every other kid in there was snotting on everything, coughing up a lung or projectile vomiting.

I overheard one mom actually say, "We just came from the doctor's office. He's got strep, but we started the antibiotic this morning, so we're good." Really? Because he didn't look good. He looked feverish and he looked like he was enjoying licking every solid surface in the room.

"Oh I know, that junk is going around. Well, between you, me and the wall, Alannah has pink eye. She woke up this morning with her eye all crusty. Luckily, I had old antibiotic from two years ago. I gave her a double dose and she perked right up."

Crap! I had just paid twenty bucks to get my kids into this place, the hell I could leave so soon! The hubs would kill me! I had to get my money's worth even if that meant the kids might catch a flesh eating bacteria.

I quickly moved my children to other end of the room and doused them in hand sanitizer. I pointed out Strep-Boy and Pink Eye-Girl and told them to keep a good ten foot radius around those two.

What gives with these people?

Is it boredom slash laziness or is it attention hounding?

I wanted to ask Strep-Mom: "Are you so bored that you can't be stuck in the house with your diseased child another minute, so you drag his dripping, hacking, feverish little body out to a play date and infect the rest of the population?"

And Pink Eye-Mom doesn't get a pass either: "Maybe it is sheer laziness? You looked at her crusty, pink eye and said, "Screw it. We had to deal with it. It wasn't so bad. Kids get sick, it's just part of life. You've been on antibiotics for a good 15 minutes. It should be fine. Let's go, all of our friends are dying to see us!"

I do realize it's winter and kids are sick all the time. I know kids will infect other kids, but when the parents don't give a sh*t that's when it really bugs me.

When I overhear parents sighing heavily and saying things like, "We were up all night with Baxter. He was projectile vomiting. It was like something from 'The Exorcist'. But I just had to get out of the house. We were going crazy cooped up in there. How many times can you watch 'Cars'?" I just want to smack them.

"Reginald has a touch of the flu, but he should be OK at school today." What the hell is a "touch of the flu?" Either you have the flu or you don't, but you can't have "a touch."

It's not even the kids that bother me as much as the adults. I realize the kids have no control. If mommy says you're well enough to go out, then out you go. A child isn't going to say, "Mommy, I'm still pretty infectious and I would hate to get the other kids sick. Think of the other mommies. I think we should probably sit out this play date and try another time. Don't you?"

Actually, the kid might have said that. I find that when it comes to illness, kids have more common sense than their parents (drilled into them by the schools -- I don't blame them for teaching kids to cough in their elbows, wipe runny noses with tissues and stay home if you have a fever or a "touch of the flu" -- the teachers don't want to get sick).

It's the sick adults that drive me absolutely batty. I used to work with a woman who was Super Woman -- or at least she thought she was. We worked in a very close space together and she would drag her sad, sorry, sick ass to work, because she was terrified the place would fall apart without her.

She would sit there and bark so much she sounded like a sea and blow her bright red nose until she'd practically pass out. She would sit there at her desk snorting and sniffing and sneezing and wheezing. In those days we didn't have Facebook yet, so she couldn't sit there and update her status with the color of her snot (like she did in person). "I've got green, Jen. That can't be good. Better look on WebMD."

That's when I would say, "Why don't you just go home?"

"No!" she would snap at me. "I need to be here/There's too much to do/I can't leave/I'm vital to the team/etc." You name it. There was always some over the top reason why she just couldn't be a normal person and call in sick. It was obnoxious. As if this multi-billion dollar company would come to a screeching halt because she wasn't there to answer the phone. (And I thought I had a pretty good sized ego.)

I would down Airborne like it was candy and Purell the crap out of myself. If she touched anything on my desk I'd whip out a Clorox wipe and decontaminate the entire desk and three feet of the surrounding area.

When I got sick (which I inevitably did despite all my valiant efforts) I would call human resources and say, "I can't come today, because Roberta got me sick." That was the best I could do. Roberta was my superior and I couldn't get too high and mighty with her if I wanted to keep my job.

What I wanted to say was, "We really should have a policy on this sort of thing. You know, if you run a fever, you should stay home. If you throw up, stay home. That sort of thing. I can only imagine how much money we lose each year to illnesses that could have been prevented if ONE idiot had stayed home and didn't try to be such a flipping martyr. She spread her disgusting sickness throughout the entire office and now I'm sick and soon you will be too!"

I'd get emails and VMs from Roberta during my "vacation day" (because that's how she saw it, of course) saying how she was so surprised that (INSERT ILLNESS I CAUGHT FROM ROBERTA HERE) was keeping me down. When she was sick, she was able to just power through and come into the office and get her work done. Sure she was exhausted and sure she wasn't feeling 100%, but she never let a little flu/strep/mono/Swine Flu/Small Pox stop her and she was positive that she would see me in the morning, because we had a lot of work to catch up on!

I would reply with: "Doesn't look good for tomorrow. Better go ahead and call the temp agency now."

Because after dealing with her sick ass all week and then trying to recuperate while being berated by her, I totally needed a "mental health day."