Sunday, January 20, 2013

If you're sick, stay home. If you're productive when sick, shut up about it.

In the novel Diary of a Mad Housewife, which I read a hundred years ago, there was a scene that so infuriated me that I've remembered it ever since--and it's not one you'd think.  The main character gets the flu and decides to read Proust, because someone tells her that Proust and a hot toddy is just the thing when you're sick.

I'm sorry, but if you're reading Proust, you're not sick. If you--like a colleague I once had--say that you use the time when you're sick to catch up on reading Derrida in the original French, you're not sick.

If you say that you're sick and you finished writing an article and grading 40 papers, and isn't it lucky that you didn't have to teach because you are so productive when you're sick because it forces you to slow down, you're not sick.

If you can do anything more intellectually challenging than guess which of the three houses the people on House Hunters International will choose, you're not sick.

And if you think you can struggle into the classroom or meeting, coughing and sneezing and spreading whatever pestilence is going around this week and we will be grateful because you're just that important, here's a news flash:

Don't be "determined" to do something so that we can catch your germs.

Stay the #@$%^ home.

(Sorry, IHE columnist, but you really hit a nerve with this one.)


Bardiac said...

Oh, my!

And a hearty "hear, hear!" to not reading or writing complext stuff, making hard decisions, and so on when sick. I usually can't bother to turn on the TV, myself. I certainly don't read anything more complex than a clock, and even that's pretty slow.

undine said...

Bardiac, I love that image of reading a clock! When I'm sick, I walk into walls and doorframes, so doing anything complex is right out.

Flavia said...


Maybe this is where people get the idea that maternity leave means a woman should REALLY be further along in her scholarship--even though her tenure clock was stopped--since she had all that free time that one semester.

Anonymous said...

The possibly one thing I miss about being a kid is staying home that extra day when you're not actually sick but you're not allowed to be at school.

Psycgirl said...


undine said...

Flavia, I'll bet you're right. That is wrong on so many levels and shows that the people who think that have never been there.

nicoleandmaggie--I can see why you'd miss that. My mother was of the "if you're sick, you also have to be bored" school of staying home, so I don't miss that part.

Psycgirl--thanks! I thought maybe I was too ranty, but I really hate both those things.

Anonymous said...

Flavia, that is SO true.

Can I just say, I hate those determined people.

Thank you for this.

undine said...

academiccautionarytale, I hate them, too. When someone says "I'm really sick, but I'll try to be there," my answer is pretty blunt: don't.