Thursday, January 24th, 2013
8

It's "Take Your Flu To Work" Day!

Now that everyone's been enormously sick, and for such a long time, we are all tired of staying in our homes in our segregated sickbeds. Let's just take our flus to the subways and to the offices of Manhattan! I mean everyone else has it, so why should we worry, AM I RIGHT? And besides, what if they forget about you at work and lay you off? Here's that attitude: "I work in a huge company, in a giant skyscraper, in the middle of Manhattan. I would say that in a typical day, 100% of my co-workers come into close proximity (on the subway, in the streets ,in the lobby, on the elevator, throughout the office, etc., etc…) to hundreds of people and the various concoctions of germs, bacteria, and viruses that these hundreds of people are transmitting. So, if you add me to the mix, does it really make a difference?"

Hee, I can hear everyone screaming "herd immunity" at once. Um yes, it does make a difference, ya ding dong. Here's some pretty good responses.

My daughter is immuno-compromised, and people just would not stop coming into work while sick. I took to wearing a hospital mask at work to avoid catching anything, and I had to do a whole decontamination routine before I could see her, let alone touch her. Do you know what it's like to see someone crying for you and have to stop yourself from reaching out to her in return until you've sufficiently de-loused yourself of the germs of one martyr of a coworker?

And:

I've been taking heavy precautions this year (the cruel thing about being immune compromised is that you don't produce as many antibodies as healthy people do to the flu shot; it's less effective for us), and I don't go out much anyway. Nonetheless, I got the flu from my husband, who is not compromised and works in a large office where people come in sick. While he shook it off in four days, I'm going on two weeks. I'm so sick I'm getting IV fluids, IV electrolytes and anti-nausea medication at home. It totally almost killed me. I am like a walking, talking (swap: laying in bed and barfing) PSA for why healthy people should stay in if they are sick and contagious with the flu.

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During the SARS epidemic/scare/whatever it was, there was a lot of talk in Europe about what the hell would happen if it went serious pandemic, since a lot of people in the US can't take sick days or too many of them, can't afford to go to the doctor let alone the ER if they get really sick, etc. So the US, in a lot of articles by serious grown-up type experts was viewed as a rogue patient who couldn't be trusted to move freely. I read suggestions that anyone coming from the US be tested, quarantined, refused entry, etc. And while more cautious right-minded people also urged caution against panic and prejudice against Statesers…lots of people shook their heads and wondered why the richest country in the world might have to be treated like Typhoid Mary because it has deficient universal health care.

@SarahHeartburn There's a huge face time work culture in the States which rewards people for being irresponsible but potentially threatening the rest of the office as being more of a team player and a go getter. That has just as much to do with it as lack of health care.

julebsorry (#5,783)

@happymisanthrope Yup. I'm guilty of this…I felt seriously pressured to come to the office a day after I had stomach flu, because hey, I could actively stand up and type on a computer without vomiting everywhere so why WOULDN'T I be at work? Answer – b/c I was still shedding viruses like a mofo and I work in a very enclosed space with hundreds of coworkers (we're hotdesking at the moment). Also, I only felt well enough to barely commute, dress myself and type…not to really do anything else. Begged my boss to work from home for a few days to avoid infecting anyone (and I can easily do my job from home)…you would have thought I asked for a gold-plated desk chair or two months extra vacation.

The face-time, "team-player", no-complaints culture is a HUGE problem.

cherrispryte (#444)

This is good, because I got my flu shot two weeks ago yesterday, meaning today it is officially effective, SO NOW I AM IMPERVIOUS. COME AT ME WITH YOUR FLU, BITCHES.

Hush, you (#241,105)

YES. My boss (who has an advanced degree in the biomedical sciences…) apparently does not believe in the germ theory of disease because she told me she "doesn't believe in staying home when sick… if you're going to get sick, you're going to get sick, there's nothing you can do about it." Spoken like someone who has never been or been close to anyone who was immunocompromised.

Her husband came into work with pertussis. She came in with the flu. She hosted a weekend-long prayer session at her house when all four of her family members had the stomach flu. WTF. When I stay home sick she plays 20 questions with me via text to figure out how sick I am. (Sometimes I am not very sick! Sometimes I am trying to keep others from getting sick! Sometimes I am trying to rest so I don't get sicker! Ugh!)

I've learned to breath through my hat.

Liz_B (#241,173)

It's not much help for those whose bosses demand they drag their infectious selves to work, but paid sick leave laws can help reduce the number of sick people circulating in public. Right now, 80% of low-wage workers don't have paid sick leave, and they're the ones who can least afford to miss a day of pay.

Connecticut, DC, San Francisco, and Seattle have all passed laws requiring many employers to give their workers paid sick leave … and their economies haven't crumbled! San Francisco has had lower turnover without higher payroll costs (http://ow.ly/h6Fbx).

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