In my view, there’s nothing “common” about the cold.
My colds, at least, are always extraordinary. They’re at least 10 times worse than any cold anyone else gets. I deserve to take a minimum of two weeks off work and lay around in bed feeling sorry for myself.
I don’t, of course. Like everyone else, I do the brave thing and struggle into the old salt mind so I can spread my contagion around.
Workplace experts always lecture about how sick people should stay home because they walk around shedding germs and pretty soon everybody in the office comes down with the same affliction.
Such people don’t know how the “common” cold works. It’s supposedly most contagious around days two through four, but it actually remains contagious for up to two weeks, the normal timeline of misery for cold sufferers.
That means you’d have to stay off work for two weeks every time you had a cold. Multiply that by three colds per year and you’re off the job for a month and a half, plus mental-health days, vacation time and statutory holidays, and nothing would ever get done.
So, troopers that we are, we show up for work as usual, infect our fellow employees, and they in turn keep coming to work and on it goes. It’s just something we live with.
The Japanese probably have it right — they don’t stay home with a cold, either, but they wear surgical masks our of consideration for others.
Sunday, it began with an ever so-slight tickle in the throat, a small hint of sinus congestion, and by Monday morning when the clock radio came on I was approaching a full-blown state of feeling sorry for myself.
So sorry, in fact, that I quickly became resentful of the daily dose of cheeriness from Bob Price and Peter Olsen as they yakked about the weather.
“I feel like crap,” I confessed to Syd as I lay there in the sack, immobile.
I swear I heard just a suggestion of a sigh from Syd before she responded with the timeworn, but absolutely correct, answer: “Maybe you should stay home today.”
This is why I love the woman; she almost always demonstrates the appropriate degree of sympathy (except maybe that time I had the stomach thing).
“Can’t,” I said, summoning my martyr’s voice. “Too much to do. They can’t possibly get along without me.”
So here I am, feeling like crap at work but manning up and getting the job done. I suppose I could take a day or two off but that’s for wusses. I’ve not been able to find any medical research on why the so-called common cold always makes men feel sicker than women do. There is, however, clear evidence that it does — that clear evidence being the amount of whining men do as compared to women.
At this moment, there are at least five people in this office with colds. Four of them are men, and we all may as well be at death’s doorstep. The fifth, a woman in payroll, is walking around as cheerful as ever, albeit with a bit of added hacking and coughing.
One source says men are not good at being sick because they’re prone to worrying more. Our answer to that is, of course we are. We have more to worry about.
I’ve already decided Christmas is going to be no fun because I’ll be sick as a dog. Christmas dinner will be ruined because my taste buds are on days off. And the weather will be so terrible even Price and Olsen will have trouble thinking up something silly to say about it.
Oh, and about the “common” part of the common cold. It’s called the common cold because it’s common to get one. Apparently, there are so many variations of the cold virus that we never actually catch the same one twice.
Excellent. We have an endless variety of opportunities to feel sorry for ourselves as we sit in our offices popping lozenges.