Sickness as a Strategy in the Workplace.

Gastric flu – Yuck – all the symptoms of flu and a tummy doing somersaults when I even think of food. At home on sick leave when I should be at work, because I went to work and caught this crappy condition from a colleague who should have been at home on sick leave.

“I had to come in,” he croaked at me on Friday last: “I’ve got an important meeting about our new project and seeing as I am team leader …”

I know. You are so important and indispensable that you can’t be sick, or are you simply playing at “workplace heroics”. This who normally shine by their mediocrity suddenly take on a whole new aura when they are sick – just one knock off death’s  door, they crawl into work as if to say “Look at me. I’m sick, but I came in all the same. What a hero.”

No, you are not a hero, you are like that small lower body aperture where the dun don’t never shine. You are a walking biohazard, a repository of germs and you should be at home, rather than at work pissing everyone off by telling them how ill you are and also giving us your germs.

Yes, I hate the workplace “sick” heroes. They come in many different forms. There are those who come swathed in layers of warm clothing, popping pills and sniffing on nasal sprays. They sit and suffer in silence in a corner in full view of everyone – their aim, to gain the pity and benevolence of co-workers.  “Oh you look awful. You should never have come to work.” And later at the coffee machine – “Did you see so and so? He looks awful, but he still came to work.”  Oh how sweet.

The other sick hero? Well he or she I have already mentioned. When all around are dropping like flies, our sickie is at work telling everyone just how sick he (or she) really is, BUT “I am here all the same,” whilst in the same breath, roundly condemning all those who have decide to stay home and quietly die rather than crawling into work to die there.

Of course, sickness can be an excellent strategy to rid yourselves of those with whom you are not on best terms – call this the most basic form of germ warfare: your boss for example. There you are coughing and spluttering away like an old car, and you enter the boss’s office to say: “Hey I’m illl, but I’m here,” but also to spread a few germs, ensuring that your boss is on sick leave when you finally make it back to work – ah, a few days without your boss. The same strategy also works with vile colleagues.

Typically French – with the current gastric epidemic at work, there has been an internal memo telling us all to refrain from shaking hands with co-workers or kissing each other on the cheeks – standard daily forms of French greeting. You will pretty much shake hands with all your male and female colleagues. The kiss on the cheeks is reserved for female colleagues with whom you are on friendly terms. So what are we all doing?  Germ free High Fives, because in a recent report on health in the workplace, French doctors have discovered that the good old but ver unFrench  high five is the most hygienic way to greet colleagues whilst still maintaining some kind of physical contact.

So, one day off so far with gastric flu, but I didn’t manage to get to the doctor’s and I will need a sick note from a doctor to justify my one day absence – yes, this is France and even one day of sick leave needs a medical certificate – no doctor’s note, no pay. Ah for the UK where you can have up to three days “self-assessed” sick leave before having to consult a doctor.

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