I took Thursday and Friday off because my dad is on vacation this week, and we needed to install the bathroom fan. He asked me last weekend, after he and my mother had failed—for a second weekend in a row—to properly install it, “How much do you know about electricity?”
I flashed on the five-minute crash course we had on how not to blow a fuse with film lights, my vague recollection of the various formulae and wattages pooling together into a soupy lack of remembrance. I told him the truth: “Almost nothing.” I suggested that perhaps my sister, who spends the majority of her life fucking around with electrical wiring, might be helpful, but my dad helpfully pointed out that she’s a girl, and he doesn’t want to be humiliated by his incompetence. He wants both of us to be humiliated by our combined IQ of 14, because we inevitably failed and had to call my sister for help. Then we failed again; yes, the fan now officially works, but only by flipping the switch in the other bathroom.
“Who cares about your bathroom fan?” you, impatient gentle reader, are undoubtedly asking right now.
“Nobody,” I can respond safely, and fortunately for you, this entry isn’t really about that.
This entry is about calling in sick, the time-honored tradition that marks the difference between pathetic, hardworking foreigners and virile, sloth-like Americans. Although I’d be missing out on money, I jumped at the opportunity to shine a flashlight into a dark, dusty attic for six hours straight, because it’s far more interesting than anything I do at my job. Also, I get to listen to my dad refine his true skill: crafting the most creative, almost poetic stream of profanities this side of Darren McGavin, which is always entertaining.
So I woke up early on both Wednesday and Thursday morning to inform one of my direct superiors that I would be sick. I purposely called early so I’d get a VoiceMail and they wouldn’t try to talk me into coming in anyway. My direct superior sent an email to Management to let them know I’d be gone…
…and when I got in on Monday morning, I had two emails from Management, each of them forwarded from my superior, each of them saying I’d be out sick, each of them forwarded for no earthly reason to the entire department. I would say I’m fine with this, because I suppose it’s nice for everyone to know, but only about four people in the office actually need to know, and the superior I notified would have let them know. Also, in the months I’ve worked here, people have been out sick before on many occasions, and I’ve only seen that type of thing happen once. Once! And it was because a girl was going to be gone for a week and a half for her wedding and honeymoon.
Even so, it’s not a big deal, except that for the past two days, every time I run into somebody know—and it’s a large, maze-like office filled with cubicles that are taller than most of the staff standing up, so I can go for weeks without seeing certain people—people keep asking me, “Are you feeling better?” Which means I have to perpetuate the myth of my actually having been sick. I suppose I should be glad any of these people actually care how I’m feeling, but that kind of makes it worse. I just mutter, “Fine,” but I really just want to let everybody in on the little secret that I just took two days off to take them off. But my experience has told me that it’s rarely a good idea to walk around an office saying, “Yeah, yesterday I took the day off so I could fuck around doing pretty much nothing.” So I just keep going around pretending I had a really bad, noncontagious stomach bug of mysterious origin.
It’s this type of thing that prevents me from taking days off to live out the American Dream of sitting in my underwear watching Judge Mathis.