Last Updated on April 23, 2021
I did something this week that I didn’t have the nerve to do before, because I always felt so guilty.
I called in sick.
While this may not seem like a big deal to most people, it’s huge for me. It means that I’ve learned that some things (ie: my health) are more important than money.
And that was not an easy lesson to learn.
When I Wasn’t Allowed to be Sick
My first job out of school was working at with a live theatre company. While I was working there, I wasn’t “allowed” to be sick. I was the only person in my department, so there was no one to cover for me if I wasn’t there.
Money was a huge factor for me, as well. Back then I had to work two jobs to make ends meet, so calling in sick often meant missing both shifts. Since we weren’t given any sick days or paid time off, missing one day was enough to destroy my budget. Missing two or three days could mean I couldn’t pay my rent.
Management certainly didn’t make it easy, either. If I did call in sick, I usually wasn’t allowed back to work without a doctors note – which in most cases meant taking another day off work to go and get said note. (Although this “rule” was only enforced randomly, depending if I was on management’s good side or not at the time.)
Because it was such a hassle and usually meant being black-listed, I rarely called in sick. Especially after doing so post-widsom-teeth-surgery caused a coworker of mine to quit. (Seriously.) Instead, I suffered through month-long colds and headaches to the point where I eventually broke down from it all.
When I Was Allowed to be Sick
When I left that job and moved to the college, I was given 6 paid sick days. But I still felt guilty the 2 or 3 days that I did call in sick – even though I was encouraged by my supervisor to stay home, and had numerous people around to cover for me (if needed). There were no consequences for me calling in sick, but I had been conditioned to expect the worst when I did.
Am I Allowed to be Sick?
I’ve now been at my “new” job for about a month. Most of the policies at the gym make sense, but I am still very confused about taking time off – whether it be due to an illness or for vacation purposes. (This has already proven to be a HUGE flaw with the company, and will likely be the reason I leave the position sooner rather than later.)
I’ve been fighting a cold all week, but instead of staying home from my shift on Tuesday, I convinced myself to go into work. It was only a 4 hour shift, after all. And it was an evening shift where there are usually only a few older kids that don’t need as much attention. And I knew that another attendant had already called in sick that day (because I was basically harassed on Monday to switch my shift and/or come in early to cover for her). And I only had 3 shifts this week, so I couldn’t afford to miss it. And it was just a cold – I wasn’t really that sick.
But I knew as soon as I got into my car that I should have listened to my almost-husband and stayed home.
Thankfully the shift was quiet – so quiet that I didn’t really even need to be there. I suffered through the four hours, picked up some nighttime cold medicine on the way home, and went straight to bed.
I woke up Wednesday morning feeling worse. But once again, I was trying to convince myself to go into work, because I still felt guilty calling in sick.
But shouldn’t I feel more guilty exposing kids (and their parents, and my coworkers, and the people using the gym) to my germs? Isn’t it better that I take the time off now to recover (when I don’t really need to be there) so that I’m not still sick next week (when no one else is available)? My health is more important than $40, isn’t it?
I’m Allowing Myself to be Sick
So far, the gym hasn’t shown me much compassion or appreciation (which is a whole other issue/post), so why I am I, once again, putting a low-paying job above my health? Had I learned nothing from my experience at the theatre?
Of course I could use the $40 that I would make working that shift, but my overall financial situation is a lot better now than it used to be. $40 isn’t going to break my budget or put me behind. And my job is not going to be at risk, either. Nothing bad would happen if I called in sick.
So, I did what was the right thing for me, and called in sick for my shift on Wednesday.
To help alleviate my guilt, I called early thus giving them several hours to find someone to cover for me, and also let them know that I’d call on Saturday if I’m not able to make my next shift (which is on Sunday).
In the meantime, I’m allowing myself to be sick – lots of sleep, lots of medicine, and lots of soup. And I’m trying to not feel guilty about it.
Do you feel guilty calling in sick to work? Has the guilt ever prevented you from calling in sick?
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