Sunday, January 3, 2016

Day #362: The Thing About Sick Days

My moral code regarding sick days is apparently very flexible, given my history. In my current career, as an English teacher, I do my best to NEVER call in sick. Even when I am ill, I show up to teach class. It seems that once a year I lose my voice as a resukt of a cold or allergies, but even that doesn't stop me. for such occasions, I have a lecture prepared in pantomime.

I don't like the thought of having someone from the office post a CLASS IS CANCELED notification on my classroom door. It would fill my students with far too much joy.

But there was a time when I called in sick as often as I was able to... that was during my Disneyland Days. Before then, I worked at a movie theater called the Grand Cinemas (read my novel "Enjoy Your Show" for more misadventures). I called in sick once in a while, usually when i was completely healthy. If a good friend wanted to run off and do something fun, I had little qualms about calling in and lying about the flu or a stomach ache. most of my friends worked at the theatre, so this deception didn't happen very often.

but Disneyland was differrent. I had no close friends as co-workers, so the Magic Kingdom was not the center of my social world. The other thing about D-Land is that they gave you an allotted number of days you could call in sick. the Grand never had such a policy. If you called in sick too often they would start grumbling. But at Disney, you could be absent twice a month, and it was perfectly fine. So, I took advantage of that far more than I should have. If I felt like watching a movie by myself, I'd use a sick day. If I wanted to run off to Vegas for the first time in my life, I'd use two sick days.

During my school days, I was more cautious about sick days -- most children probably are... obviously if I was actually sick, I would stay home. But every so often something dreadful was happening at school, an assignment was due or a test was coming up, and so I would lie to my mother about having a sore throat. (Sorry Mom!) During those days, which were actually quite rare now that I think about ot, perhaps twice a year, I didn't utilize the time as well as I should: I don't think I studied or completed assignments on those days. Instead, I played Atari, led my army men in deadly battles, and watched a whole lot of PBS. And if I was really lucky, there was something cool on them11 o'clock movie. That local tv station must have catered to boys playing hooky because that's where I saw shows films such as Sinbad the Sailor and A Man Called Flintsone.

The house is a different realm when you are sick (or pretending to be so). It's strangely, wonderfully quiet and private, yet there's also something creepy about the late morning loneliness. With your parents away at work, any stranger could break down the door and kill you. All the more reason for me to hide away in my room with my Star Wars figures, my Lester ventriloquist doll, and one of my prixed possessions: my Merlin electronic game. As I got older my prized electronica would become an Atari 2600, then a Vic 20 computer, and finally a Commodore 64.

Today, I am 44 years and a few months. It's a Sunday. No work today, or even tomorrow. We are still on winter break. I am sick. Not pretending. It's not a terrible illness, just a cold. I did my best to ignore it yesterday, and took down the Christmas lights and walked he dog, like I was some kind of healthy person. When I woke up today, my body said, "Wade, let's give the illness its due."

And so I have rediscovered that feeling of staying in bed when part of your mind feels, "Hey lazy, you've got stuff to do." I've been a little productive, learning my lines for an upcoming play, and inking illustrations for my graphic novel. But mostly have been lying in bed or slumping on the couch. I've been watching my healthy family members go about their business, and I've said several small prayers to somehow help the odds go in their favor so that they don't get what I got.

But if they do, I will try my best to make them feel as rested and relaxed ad I do now.

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