No doorways, no windows, no walls
No shelter here on the ground
No standing and no safe place to fall
Just the promise of this distant sound
Bells are ringing all over the world

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Wounds We All Carry Are Not All Visible

I'm sick as a dog. I've been attempting to hack up my lungs for the past week and my left eye is twitching. However, I'm not throwing up, which means I'm not sick enough to call off work. I wasn't sick enough to skip the Village Clean-up Day this past weekend, where it rained off and on as we helped people off-load moldy carpeting and wood, which didn't help.

I'm not sick enough to call off work because I'm not throwing up. These are some of the wounds we carry. I know where this function comes from. My mother raised us by herself and had to work. Therefore the hurdle that needed to be crossed for us to stay home from school or anything else was very high. So if my brother or I weren't tossing cookies, we were going to whatever it was we had to go to (school, camp, etc). We couldn't afford for Mom to stay home with a partially sick kid.

This is possibly also where my borderline workaholic tendencies come from. I will work, as long as there is work, until I drop over. That end point keeps getting closer the older I get. When I was younger I could work 72-hours straight (with two one-hour breaks to shower and change clothes). I know this because I had done it more than once. I have worked others into the ground. At my WV job (which most of you don't know about), after one particularly maddening last-minute all-night production session to get art to the printer, my boss, who was younger than I, was asleep on the floor as I burned the final CD and then drove to the local airport to meet the courier company that would get the disks to the printer in LA by noon local time. By the time I got back to the office, his parents (who also were a part of the business) had gotten him home. I, then, got to work another seven hours. Yeah me.

I used to think of that as a strength. I now look at it as my own insanity. Note to kids, a healthy work ethic is a good thing. What I have borders on obsession.

On the plus side, I've never had a problem getting a job with people who know me. I've also made a good chunk o' money in overtime (when I would get paid for it). For the day job before this one, we didn't get paid overtime, so I rarely worked it. Especially after working several weekends to get a catalog on track, with the promise of a bonus. Let's just say with the current day job I made more in overtime in the first four months than I did with eight years of "bonuses" (and that includes Year End/Xmas and Birthday gifts).

Flip side to that I've missed out on being places I should have gone, places I should have been, life passed by that I'll never get back. I lack the ability to relax, which may seem strange to some of you that know me, as I'm a pretty relaxed kind of guy in person. Little do you know that just because I'm kicking back, it doesn't mean that inside my brain isn't running on all cylinders. I am not a person who can nap (unless I'm exhausted in the clinical sense). It's how I'm put together.


Random Michelle K said...

If you were to show up at my workplace like that, I'd send you immediately home, saying, "I don't want your germs. Go home. Now. And stay there until you no longer look contagious."

Refusing to take downtime while you're sick often lets the nasty hang on even longer, as your system is too overwhelmed to put up a good immune response.

And you may be physically at work, but work wise, unless you're just being a warm body, you'd be better off taking a day off and resting than coming in sick and working like crap for (umpty-ump) days.

That said, I rarely take sick days, but when I have been sick, I stay away so I don't give my co-workers whatever it is I have. Because I like my co-workers, and don't want them to feel as crappy as I do.

But most importantly, feel better soon. Because we don't want you to feel like crap either.

Anonymous said...

My mom used to be the same... when I was about 14, though, she got such a terrible case of pneumonia, which she worked through for two weeks before admitting defeat, that she has since learned the value of lying down for a good nap when she gets sick.

Feel better. Hope you learn to take it easy the easy way...

Nathan said...

I have never gotten sick during a movie I was working on and I have rarely finished one that lasted more than 2 months without crashing hard at the end.

I think I give myself permission to get sick when the job is over.

Steve Buchheit said...

Michelle, see, I know that in my head, but I can't do it. It was only a few years ago that a good nights sleep would make me right as rain. For the day job we only get two sick days (and that just came in our last contract negotiation). If our boss likes us we could take a vacation day, and I refuse to do that while I'm sick. Sick on vacation sucks rocks. And I'm jonesing for the payoff at the end of the year (for the unused sick days).

Mer, I keep watching out to make sure it doesn't get to that point. I think if I'm the same on Thursday, I go to the doctor and get controlled substances.

Nathan, oh yeah. Getting sick on vacation is the pitts. And I've done that for several years. It's like my body says, "Okay, don't have to work. Time to purge bilges."

Random Michelle K said...

Steve, that completely sucks.

Our Graduate Assistants don't get sick leave or vacation leave, however, I make sure they "bank" time so that if they're sick I can send them home and they won't be short time. And if they don't get sick, they can take a week vacation over a break. :)

That sucks that your job treats you worse than we treat our graduate assistants.

Anonymous said...

Steve, re: my mom...

Well, that's the thing... she was on the controlled substances from the doc. Three rounds of antibiotics, and she should have been in the hospital as a patient, not a nurse. It was bad.

Steve Buchheit said...

Michelle, and I'm in a union job. We don't get banked time, but we do get OT. Mostly, though, this is an internal drive. Although I really do want that bonus at the end of the year. But thinking about when I was a student, I used to love breaks because I could get in 40+ hours of work. Never went anywhere for Spring Break (ever).

Mer, yeah, I need to listen to my body and slow down at this.

Although, I am starting to get better. I'm not coughing nearly as much.