In December, we villainize the Grinch, but he’s an angel of light compared to Germ Gremlins, lurking throughout the winter. Eventually, after counterattacks with antibiotics, chicken soup, vitamins, herbs, oils and oatmeal-mud baths, we conquer illness.
Recovering engenders a dilemma almost as uncomfortable as the sickness. Should I return to work? Or continue to nurse my illness at home with medicine and movies?
Our parents’ generation posed one diagnostic question: “Are you breathing?”
If they detected movement of a Vicks®-coated chest, the response never varied: “Get out of that bed, you lazy bum!”
Resistance might result in an employer dragging the unfortunate to work by the toes, à la J.C. Dithers, the comic strip boss of Dagwood Bumstead.
Sometimes a tough stance works. The Greatest Generation accomplished great things.
However, some of that generation also puffed cigarette smoke into kids’ ears to cure earaches.
Today’s extreme critics of the do-while-dying work ethic declare no one should leave home until she/he passes a germ-detector test and submits to a complete-body Lysol® spray.
Perhaps Homeland Security should include such procedures at airports. Sitting by a living petri dish doesn’t exactly ensure safety. Maybe disposable hazmat helmets might be issued on flights?
If an inventor wanted to make big bucks, he might market preschool hazmat suits. Sleep-deprived parents not only would make him a billionaire, but also their patron saint.
Yet medical experts issue warnings about overprotection, lower immune ability and allergies. Attempts to make the Germ Gremlins extinct can backfire.
So how does a person of the Not-So-Great Generation who rejects Gremlin paranoia make the wussy-or-wise decision?
For once, technology proves helpful. Many can work at home until fully well. Opponents protest that this takes all the fun out of being sick. However, the benefit of wearing ratty bathrobes remains.
Still, we must escape quarantine some time. Recovering from flu, Hubby and I craved our church’s spiritual and social encouragement. After service, though, we dashed out the back door to avoid handshakes and hugs.
Wouldn’t a universal “I’m-almost-recovered” wristband come in handy? Then we wouldn’t have to proclaim from the rooftops that we shouldn’t shake hands. That we’ll admire a new baby from afar. That we’ve recently been slimed by sick grandchildren.
Even at the cost of perpetuating Germ Gremlins, we must avoid avoiding others. In John Steinbeck’s 1960s classic, Travels with Charley, he criticized a restaurant that boasted “food untouched by human hands.” Lives untouched by human hands would allow the Gremlins to wreak even worse havoc than the Grinch. We need each other like we need food and water.
I need hugs every single day. Shun family and friends to stay wussy-well?
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: When do you choose to return to work?