Sunday, February 13, 2011

Asking for Sick Leave, Sand Land-Style

(Friendly disclaimer: If you've just eaten, are eating right now or are contemplating eating in the near future, skip this post and find something else to's a random, interesting article I recently read...if you're struggling with your New Year's weight loss resolution, continue reading.)

During my stint at Fuckwittery, Inc., I've come to realize that there are many differences between Sand Landian workplaces and U.S. workplaces. One of the most striking differences is the manner in which employees go about obtaining sick leave.

From my experience in U.S. workplaces, people tend to be alittle guarded about discussing their health problems at work. When the need for sick leave arises, employees are usually pretty vague about what's wrong. You would no sooner launch into a protracted description of your malady than you would whip out your paycheck and show it to all your co-workers (yet another difference between the two workplace cultures). But in Sand Land, the employee-employer sick leave discussion involves significantly more blood and guts than the average Tarantino flick.

Allow me to juxtapose the radically different approaches to obtaining sick leave with a couple of scenarios, which are based (less loosely than you'd think) on conversations I've found myself having with Fuckwittery, Inc. employees.

Now, in both the U.S. and Sand Land, there are two types employees seeking sick leave: (1) people who are legitimately sick, and (2) people who aren't sick but don't feel like being at work. We'll analyze both cases.

Case #1: Legitimately Sick Employee

It's 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday morning. "Jim" is happily working away on his expense report when he suddenly develops a bad case of projectile blue diarrhea.

Here's how Jim would likely proceed in a U.S. office:

Jim (calling his supervisor): Hey Sally, I'm not feeling too well. I'm going to need to go home.

Sally: Oh, sorry to hear that, Jim. Hope it's nothing serious.

Jim: Nah, my stomach's just alittle upset. I'll log into my email later today if I'm feeling better.

Sally: Ok. Thanks for letting me know. Hope you feel better.

Jim: Thanks, Sally.

(Jim hangs up, grabs briefcase and quickly, quietly makes his way home.)

And here's how Jim would proceed if he worked at my company in Sand Land:

Jim (banging on my door): Madam! Madaaaaaam!!!!

Me (rushing to open door): Yes?!

Jim (forcing the door open and smacking me in the head with it): Madaaam!!

Me: Ouch! What's wrong, Jim?

Jim (flopping into a chair, perspiring profusely): Madam, I am very, very sick.

Me: I'm sorry to hear that. Why don't you go home till you're feeling better.

Jim (nodding slightly, taking a deep breath): I just came out of the toilet, madam. I have very, very bad diarrhea. I'm really shocked because it's a strange color and -

Me (waving hands, interrupting): Ok, ok, ok. I understand you're sick. Why don't you go home now and get some rest, ok?

Jim: Madam, it's blue!

Me: Aggggghhhh!

Jim (wild-eyed): Yes! BLUUUUE! And it's just shooting out like anything!! I don't know how it could be blue, do you?

Me (trying to be calm, but about to cry): No, I don't know why your diarrhea is blue. But I really think you should go to the doctor right now, ok?

Jim: And the gastric pains are too much for me and it's really stinging very badly even as we speak -

Me (standing up, opening door ): Ok, Jim. This sounds really serious, you definitely need to see a doctor. We'll call your wife and we'll get someone to take you to the doctor...come with me.

(As we make our way to the reception, Jim pauses in each doorway to fill his colleagues in on his blue diarrhea.)

Case #2: Employee who's not sick but doesn't want to be at work.

It's 2:15 p.m. on the last day of the workweek and Jim is bored out of his mind. He just checked Facebook  for the 87th time since lunch and saw that some of his buddies are organizing a game of Ultimate Frisbee in a nearby park at 3:00 p.m.

Here's how U.S. Jim would feign illness:

Jim (calling his supervisor): Hey Sally, I'm not feeling too well. I'm going to need to go home.

Sally: Oh, sorry to hear that, Jim. Hope it's nothing serious.

Jim: My stomach's pretty upset. I think I got some bad food in the cafeteria this afternoon. I'll log into my email and catch up over the weekend if I'm feeling better.

Sally: Ok, thanks. Feel better.

Jim: Thanks, Sally.

(Jim hangs up, grabs briefcase and quietly makes way out of the office.)

And here's what Jim would most likely do if he worked in Sand Land:

Jim (hovering in my doorway, groaning): Muh-muh-madam, can I speak with you?

Me: Sure, is something wrong?

Jim (gripping stomach, leaning against doorway): Yes, madam. stomach.

Me: Oh, no. Looks like you're feeling bad.

Jim (staggers into my office and suddenly adopts the posture of the Hunchback of Notre Dame): Madam, my stomach is paining soooo bad and I think there's something wrong with this bone in my spine - it hurts when I stand up but I can't sit down because I have this boil in between the back of my two thighs and whenever I sit down the pain from the boil radiates up to the bone in my spine and it combines into one horrible pain explosion. And I'm also congested and my throat is paining.

Me: Ok, why don't you pack up and go home for the day.

Jim (whimpering): Are you sure it's ok?

Me: Definitely. Get to feeling better.

Jim (standing up straight, beaming): Thank you, madam!!

(Jim scampers back to office, packs up his things and, on his way out, flashes the "thumbs up" sign to the person who sits directly opposite my office.)