I work in one of those corporate cultures where people are married to their jobs. My bosses and many of my colleagues clearly prioritize their jobs above their families and social lives, and many people are here until 7, 8 or even 9 o’clock at night. I refuse to do this. I think my health problems have given me a different perspective, and also, I will never love a job enough to put it above the things that are important to me, like being with my family, friends and loved ones. I work to live, I don’t live to work. My job is what allows me to get paid a decent salary to do the things I want to do outside of here. It also provides me with awesome health benefits, which is paramount because of my health problems.
It is the norm for people here to come to work when they are sick. My two bosses do it all the time. It permeates the culture, and becomes the example they set for the rest of the team. Like, what we do is so important, even if you are on your deathbed, you better get your ass into work (for the record, what we do is NOT very important at all; we do promotional movie tie-ins. No one dies if I do a bad job or take an afternoon off to get better). This has affected me negatively in two specific instances:
1) After my stroke last year, I was recovering at home and on disability, and got pressured to return to work. This was in private. When I panicked and went to HR, they sat me down with my bosses who put on phony faces and assured me, “Oh no, your health comes first!” But the damage has been done. I know they don’t care about my health as much as the care about me sitting here between the hours of 9-6 every day. Also, I had been working part time, and working the rest of the time from home – which my doctors had even advised against – and it still wasn’t enough. I will never forget that.
2) With an auto-immune disease, you have a harder time getting over illnesses than the average person. Right after last Thanksgiving, I came down with the flu. I was supposed to travel to northern California for a day trip to meet with one of my partners, and I just couldn’t do it. I was so sick. I tried to come in for a few hours at a time to prepare for the meeting for my boss and assistant who were covering for me, spraying my office down with Lysol and using Clorox wipes on everything I touched. After the meeting, which, from what I heard, went off without a hitch, I got a stern ‘talking to’ from my boss that started with, “I know you can’t help getting sick, but…” and then she tore into me for not being prepared enough. I was a loss of what to say – I had the flu!! What was I supposed to do?
When I was coming back from disability, one of my bosses was coming into work every day even though she had walking pneumonia. The other boss seems to get sick with some kind of respiratory thing at least every 3 months. Of course, she still comes into the office when she is like this, which makes me want to scream. If she’s going to be such a hard ass about me being sick and needing time to get better, then it would be nice if she wasn’t the one getting me sick because she doesn’t know how to stay home and take care of herself.
Besides just me and my problems, I’m pretty sure no on else who works here wants her disgusting germs. This is how epidemics happen.
This whole issue has taken on a much greater proportion for me right now because one of my colleagues has a wife who was just diagnosed with breast cancer. She had surgery a few weeks ago and starts chemo on Monday. So they expect him to sit here all day while they cough and hack and spew their disgusting germs, and have him go home to his wife who has a compromised immune system? It defies all logic, intelligence, and basic human courtesy. Can you complain to HR about something like this? Because I just might do it.
If you ever wonder why I insist on keeping my blog anonymous, this entry is a prime example of why.