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girlofscience's avatar

How does the show go on when you're sick?

Asked by girlofscience (7449 points ) October 31st, 2008

I seriously don’t understand what’s supposed to happen when you’re sick. I always think people are either lying or pussies when they “call out sick,” because I’m of the philosophy that, no matter what, you are to fulfill your obligations.

Well, so much for that. I’ve woken up in unbearable pain today! (That time of the month.) I took Pamprin immediately and got in the shower. While in the shower, I fell out and onto the floor because I became so lightheaded from the amount of pain I am in. My boyfriend was terrified, and it was becoming obvious that I cannot go in today.

As is the case with most days, the university requires my presence today. I’m scheduled to give a brief presentation to my colleagues, and it’s been arranged for a person from another department to meet with our group to discuss data-analysis issues related to our project. He has also prepared a brief presentation and was planning to meet with our group at 11:30. Since I’m heading the project this meeting is about, it is pointless for him to come if I’m not going to be there.

I feel so defeated. I cannot believe that I am actually too sick to do what I’m supposed to do today. What’s supposed to happen in these situations? Are you supposed to go anyway and risk the chance of doubling over in pain during a presentation?

Do my colleagues think less of me because I’ve canceled my presentation and the organized meetings today?

What if your role in a day is more important than mine today, and you’re just too sick to do it? What if you’re scheduled to sing at a concert, perform a crucial surgery, or address the nation, and you just cannot do it because you feel like you’re about to give birth to alien babies? How does the show go on when you’re sick?

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24 Answers

2late2be's avatar

Well, when i didnt had kids, being sick meant that i could be in bed all day, BUT! No, my baby wont respect that rule, LOL, he still wants to play, jump on me, and run and scream, so i have to deal with that and make myself feel like im no sick!

cak's avatar

As I sat in a conference room in a city in California thinking I was dying – 102 temp, vomiting, weak, dizzy…miserable, I wondered the same. I was getting ready to do a presentation and hopefully find a way to save jobs, but also cut about a million dollars of waste out of the budget – it was everything I could do to stand up straight, much less keep from throwing up. I did my presentation and they quickly let me out of the room – green is not my color. I left there and went back to my room, rescheduled my flight (never take the red-eye after feeling that bad!) and crashed for the rest of the day.

That Friday, when I got back to the office, I had a sit down with a higher up – the plan came together, but I was reminded that I could have called my counterpart in California, had them stand in for me. This was a very serious matter, it made the difference for 15 employees and their families – it also paved the way for savings and boosted our security in the area. He explained that no one wants someone standing up in front of them that looks like they are dying. They start to focus more on whether or not that person is going to make it through what they are doing, or are they going to make everyone else that sick.

Trust me, meetings – even huge ones, have been shifted and rescheduled (and I’ve seen them rescheduled for some bad reasons) or someone has stood in for the person presenting and things do go on. People do get sick and sometimes, you just have to stay home.

Eventually, I left my job to start my own business – then I got cancer. I still ran my business (until I sold it), continued to be a parent and volunteer; however, when I started having very long stays in the hospital, things got trickier. Probably the biggest ego blow a person can have, when you are certain you are the key person in the house…you keep it running…is when things are ok when you aren’t there to hold it together. Yes, you are missed and yes, things may not get done the same way, but life still goes on.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

The show goes on when you make sure you have an understudy. All those goofy “work collaboratively” projects in high school are really about teaching you to make sure that other people you work with on a project are equally versed to speak on the project.

It’s acceptable to have someone else present when someone has come from a long distance, it’s not acceptable to cancel unless you are in the hospital. If you are headed to the emergency room because of the pain, then don’t think twice. Otherwise, you have the choice of delegating or doing the presentation, but being up front about not feeling well.

I came to this realization when I was around 40, and had a similar situation.

basp's avatar

Girlofscience
There was a time in my life when I didn’t allow myself the luxury to let myself be sick. My life was so busy that I felt as though one Hic cup would upset the careful balance.
Then one day I decided to hang up my superwoman cape.
Life continued, I became happier and today I don’t begrudge myself a sick day now and then.
No one should have to give a presentation if they are in such pain that they are going to pass out. Take care of yourself… Life will go on.

jvgr's avatar

@girlofscience: “I seriously don’t understand what’s supposed to happen when you’re sick. I always think people are either lying or pussies when they “call out sick,” because I’m of the philosophy that, no matter what, you are to fulfill your obligations….Do my colleagues think less of me because I’ve canceled my presentation and the organized meetings today?”

Why should your colleagues think less of you than you do of them?

deaddolly's avatar

I’ve been in the same spot. I remember being so sick and staying the same day I was supposed to help with a college scholarship judging. They survived w/o me, but I got a lot of ‘digs’ when I came in the next day. If you’re sick, you’re sick…no one should question it. It happens to everyone. If you drag yourself in, in my opinion, you get everyone else sick. There’s enough stress in the world w/o that. Everyone will be in the same boat sooner or later.
Feel better!

cooksalot's avatar

As my employer once said when I was a childless working woman. “If she calls in sick it’s because she’s headed for the hospital, or she’s dead.”

Bri_L's avatar

When I managed my department I made it very clear that we were a team and this “I can’t be sick” thing was bull.

If you were honestly sick like we have all described here then you stay home and we all rally and cover. If I get a whiff of fakers, EVERYTHING gets more strict than any of us would like. It worked really well.

shadling21's avatar

Health should always be more important than work or school.

Also, if you’re in constant pain or discomfort, how much work will you get done? I always have trouble focusing when I feel that way.

Hope you feel better =)

Judi's avatar

Joe the Plumber didn’t show up yesterday.
The truth is that none of us are so important that we are indispensable. The best managers are evident by how well things run when they’re gone. Your notes are somewhere and someone else has some knowledge of what you’re doing. If not, it’s time to re-evaluate your management style. They may not do things exactly as you would have, but people will fill in the gaps. In the long perspective we figure out that we are not as indispensable as we would want to believe we are.

krose1223's avatar

I think is some situations people really do need to take sick days. For example, my sister is a nurse in the mother baby unit and they are not allowed to work if they have any kind of fever. I personally would not want someone coughing on my newborn child. Also I think when my co workers are HONESTLY sick I want them to stay home, even if it means me pulling a twelve hour shift. I would rather sacrifice those extra four hours then getting sick myself and being miserable for the next two weeks. I hate when people come to work coughing all over things and then I end up sick within a week. When I take a sick day I heal so much faster because I rest more than I would at work. The show goes on, people make sacrifices, but it is a better deal in the end.

windex's avatar

I agree with the comments, your health is way MORE important!

Also, don’t you guys love the Fake Cough over the phone when people call in sick…

jballou's avatar

The guilt of the American worker.

There’s nothing wrong with calling in sick, especially if you really are too sick to get out of bed. But even if you’re not too sick to get up, you can still call in sick! Even if you just “don’t feel like going to work.” It’s called mental health, and believe it or not, you will actually be MORE productive at work without issues like what you’ve brought up here taking up space in your brain.

Think about it from your boss’s persective. Do you think he or she wants someone who’s sick as a dog, or mentally not there, in a meeting? Do you think he wants you working at 50% capacity?

You have sick days for a reason. Use them!

fireside's avatar

Usually, when I am sick, the show goes on when I press the power button on the remote control after lying down on the couch.

I think the best suggestions have already been covered:
-If you can reschedule, do so
-If the event can’t be rescheduled, find someone who can fill in for you
-If your presence is required and it can’t be rescheduled, grin and bear it
-If you are physically injured, go to the hospital and explain later

And maybe keep in mind what jvgr said and be more accepting the next time someone else is out sick.

Feel Better!

BronxLens's avatar

I, like you, hate taking sick days, but when I do feel sick, I don’t hesitate to take one.
Remember the old story of how no one ever found herself in her death bed saying “If I only had gone to work one more day…”.

Listen, you are sick. Period. Stay home, do what you need to do so your body can recuperate, including taking aghast! a second sick day, which usually conveys to people that you are REALLY sick and not faking it. So if, as I said, you feel ill (and you don’t need to feel like you are dying to feel sick), by all means don’t hesitate to stay home ( a short email advising early in the morning of your intention to be out, with not many explanations, is more than enough IMHO – your people will figure what to do if it’s that important/urgent). If you have a close colleague at work, you can call her/him and offer more directions, but only if you feel well enough.

wundayatta's avatar

I hate being around people who are coughing all over me. I don’t think it’s fair to others when someone comes in with a contagious condition. Of course, I do it anyway.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

America has a history in business of rewarding individual achievement, and are relatively new to the collaborative team perspective. We have people who feel they must be 100% accessible at all times, in order to prove their value. In business, and on projects, we do not, can not, work in a vacuum if we hope to be successful. Good managers groom the people underneath them to make decisions, and understand the parameters and decision-making in a project.

I don’t think it’s fair to come in, hang around all day, coughing all over everyone. Ordinary work day, do everyone a favor and stay away. That’s what sick days are for. Meetings where you are the main presenter is a different story. I do think it’s entirely feasible to come in for a presentation, let everyone know you’re not well, do your piece, and leave at the end of the meeting, or delegate the presentation to a project partner, and call in for the meeting using conference calling to weigh in. It’s often very hard to get people in the same place at the same time, and cancelling a meeting that is key to a project could mean a delay of a month or more, and could have ramifications futher down the project plan. That is good project leaders aren’t prima donnas, and make sure they have an understudy. Just in case.

Judi's avatar

In all fairness, it doesn’t sound like girlofscience is contagious

flameboi's avatar

My boss told me once
When you are sick, you are sick, now go home and have some chicken soup (because for some reason, everybody believes that chicken soup is great for everything)
So, you can take a break of the show if you just can’t do it

krose1223's avatar

@judi ha, this is true. For me I said that because of the first part of her explanation. I don’t think people choose not to go to work because they’re being pansies, I think it may sometimes be a precaution. Either way I think everyone deserves sick days. Even if it’s just a mental health day! I know I need a mental health day atleast once every 6 months, otherwise I may go crazy!

cdwccrn's avatar

not only do I find it I
Possible to work when k am I’ll( I work 12 hour shifts in an ICU), I deeply resent working next tosomeone who is sick.
If you are vomiting or coughing nasty stuff up, or have a fever or migraine or severe pain- STAY HOME. You do no one a favor being at work or school. In some cases, you make others sick.

Thizdude's avatar

It depends mostly on the type of job that you work at though. I work at a supermarket and i feel that if im feeling sick enough that i shouldnt go to work because i dont want to get the customers sick nor do i want to contaminate the food that someone could be eating with my sickness. maybe its just me makeing an excuse about all the people and the food. But i think that you should keep the sickness at home and contain it so it doesnt spread all over the place.

CMaz's avatar

You are either replaced or postponed or canceled.
If canceled, then something else will go on.
In any case something else will go on. As in, “the show goes on.”

lifeflame's avatar

I performed a play with a burning fever of 103 degrees once. I wasn’t playing the lead, but I was in every other scene and carrying enough weight that it would have been impossible to replace me at a pinch.

I don’t know, if something is important enough for you you just surrender to the task. You just accept your state of beign as what it is and work with it. What I mean is, instead of saying “I feel sick, I feel miserable”, you acknowledge the pain as a sensation and go ahead with it.

Actually I pushed through to a kind of “high” while performing. It was aftert he show, walking out of the theatre, the coming down from the “high” that I was kind of aware that—aha, must be careful here….

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