A couple of weeks ago, I came down with a nasty cold. This was during a week when I had numerous scheduled meetings as well as various other important activities. I was producing record amounts of phlegm, and the coughing and sneezing were as frequent as they were unsexy.
My dilemma: When to go back to work? Would it be more frowned upon to miss several days of work with a cold, or to go to work sick and possibly infect others?
Colds can last a long time, and I opted to stay home for two days during the worst of it, and return to work on the day with four meetings. I was met with a mixed reaction at work. I got the "where have you been" comment from only one person, and I don't think it was meant in a mean-spirited way. Anyone else who bothered to comment asked me why I was already back at work. Only my Most Arrogant Colleague made a big show over my likelihood of taking him down with the plague.
Other than extreme nasal congestion, I felt fine the day of my return. I would have been really bored spending another day at home. But at work, I felt some embarrassment honking away in front of my relatively new colleagues. In retrospect, I probably should have stayed home for another day.
This incident has gotten me thinking about all of the pressures associated with work productivity and appearing competent, even if you should be home in bed. I have known enough people who fake an illness, that I am always concerned that people will think I am faking, just so I can sit home and be lazy.
I guess I will just have to take 10,000 mg of vitamin C per day and do a little health dance every night to ward off the illness demons. Then, I will never have to make such fretful should-I-stay-or-should-I-go choices ever again.