my wife Vickie with Patient Zero behind her

Flu Ain’t No Fun

This flu that’s going around? The one that, according to the Center For Disease Control is “widespread” in 46 states, including California..?

Other than an excuse for some binge TV watching, it flat-out sucks.

I had it a couple months ago (you know, back before it became trendy). Now, everyone’s got it and if you haven’t yet, you may…even if you got a flu shot.

Fun fact: I had my flu shot.

That’s because, as you’ve probably read, this year’s flu vaccine doesn’t protect against the primary virus. Some estimates put it’s effectiveness at 10%! That’s like covering 10% of your body with sunscreen and hoping to avoid a sunburn.

Still, yes, doctors say you should get vaccinated, because it can keep the flu from getting too severe (I was only on my back for two days. Some people I know who didn’t get the shot were sick for a week) and because it does protect against other strains of flu.

But while everything you read about flu is geared towards keeping yourself from getting it (wash your hands, buy yourself a HazMat suit) very little is said about keeping OTHERS from getting it.

Recently, my wife Vickie and I flew back to Sacramento and seated behind us was a young lady who hacked up her lungs the entire flight. It was obvious she felt miserable. The looks on the faces of other passengers was that of annoyed horror, and it wouldn’t surprise me if half that flight comes down this week with whatever she was sharing via the cabin’s delightfully recirculated air.

But while I’m tempted to criticize her for flying despite being that ill…I can’t. Plane tickets are expensive. Airline refund policies suck. She didn’t choose to be sick and I guarantee she hated being on that flight more than we hated that she was on it. But, probably, she had to fly. I gotta at least give her the benefit of the doubt.

BUT. There is a different kind of person who willingly goes out into public when they could (and should) be home covered up, watching seasons five and six of Game of Thrones, and that’s Go-To-Work-Sick Guy. I have four words for him (or her):

Stay. The. Hell. Home.

When you drag yourself out of bed with a 103 degree fever and doggedly set off for the office despite your body aching like it’s been dropped off a building then hit by a train, you’re not a super-hero who’s too important to be sick, you’re just being a jerk.

A study released last year by the Harvard School of Public Health found that 60% of people between the ages of 18-29 admit they’ve gone to work when they’ve had a cold or flu. And the percentage is only slightly less–55%–among older workers.

Now, many in the survey said they feared angering management by staying home, and that’s a legitimate concern. And if you’re the kind of boss who penalizes people for taking sick time..? You’re an even bigger jerk.

The unsympathetic boss, Mr. Go-To-Work-Sick Guy…both need to see the bigger picture. The boss who expects sick workers to clock in is risking an even greater loss of productivity when the whole office gets infected. And Mr. GTWS Guy should look at it this way: if he IS missed, think how much greater it will feel to come back, with everyone singing his praises for rising from the dead and bravely returning to rescue them all. If you can’t get an immunity boost, an ego boost works nearly as well.

I hope you are able to skate through this flu season without a scratch. It is a nasty bug and zero fun. But if you do come down with it, do the right thing by everyone else and stay home. Besides, don’t you have some binge watching you can catch up on?

 

–Tom

 

 

 

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