GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - There was a time in my life that a sick day was the equivalent of a second Christmas.
You remember those days... waking up with a barking cough or a severely snotty nose, and then pulling out all the stops to convince mom that you were on your deathbed. The trick was making her believe that only time away from the rigors of a day at elementary school could cure what ailed you.
My mom was a soft touch. I'd scuffle into the living room, flop on the couch with the required drama, and she'd quickly make the call to the school nurse. What would follow were hours of cartoons, a great lunch of grilled peanut butter and chicken noodle soup with Casey Jones, and all the R and R a kid could handle.
The teenaged version is captured as fantasy in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."
If only you could freeze the experience in time.
My motivation for this blog was a sick day that I took last week, after falling victim to a plague that has infected the entire web center, and has now begun to claim members of the morning crew (including my pal Kim Insley... sorry, Kim).
The morning started with the mental tug-of-war that accompanies such a decision these days: Am I really sick enough to call in, does the loss of manpower at work justify trying to ensure the continued health of co-workers... and just how many of these valuable sick days do I have left anyway?
It didn't take long to figure out that I wouldn't be much good to my posse in the condition I was in, so I picked up the phone, made the call to the assignment desk, and crawled back to bed.
To bed... but not to sleep.
About 30 minutes later, my youngest daughter slipped in to the master bath to do her before-school beauty routine. Instructed by mom to not wake dad up, she engaged her sister in an across-the-house conversation, using a whisper that is most people's idea of a shout.
When the kids finally left for school, I drifted off... only to be awakened by my loyal dog Tobee. She needed to go outside, had missed her breakfast, and was likely just in need of some human contact. Dad was home... maybe playing catch with the tennis ball?
Whatever. The fact was, I was wide awake... hacking, with a head that felt like a balloon... and a cute dog would not let me off the hook. So I got up. Again.
Lunch wasn't spent with Casey, but watching the newscasts of the competition, wondering if we were missing anything due to "absence of manpower." (I seriously don't believe I'm of that much value to the operation, but when you're drifting on over-the-counter cold meds, reality can be a fleeting thing.)
Seeing an unopened stack of mail on the kitchen counter after lunch inadvertently launched a crazed search for all the necessary tax documents my accountant would eventually need... which reminded me of correspondence that I was ridiculously late on. The computer fired up, I proceeded to write, and then peruse dozens of emails that I had missed from not being in the office.
All the time staring at a computer screen was beginning to make me feel woozy, so I crawled back into bed for some sleep... only to be jarred some 20 minutes later by the alarm I'd set to remind me that I needed to be awake to meet my daughter's bus.
Let's run a quick rewind of the day, shall we? No sleep, no cartoons, no cool lunch with Casey (Roger Awesomb's not even with us anymore).
This has led me to the conclusion that adult sick days are mostly a buzzkill. The guilt of not being at work, combined with responsibilities that don't go away even when we are painfully ill, make it virtually impossible to revel in a day away.
No lunch with Casey, no Cubs games or singing twist and shout like Mr. Broderick in downtown Chicago? (although I would pass on the wrecked Ferrari, thank you very much)
Is there any way I can swap my remaining sick days for straight vacation?
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. )