Make The Most Of Your Holiday: Get Sick

How To Be Idle at Amazon“Michael, I did nothing. I did absolutely nothing, and it was everything that I thought it could be.”

– Peter Gibbons, Office Space

I’m usually one of those annoying types that enjoys bragging about never getting sick to perpetually sniffly coworkers. As you would expect, I actually do catch a bug on rare occasions. I’m usually good for one stop-you-in-your-tracks illness a year. Invariably it happens right over the top of a major holiday. I don’t really know why, perhaps it’s the colder weather. But if I haven’t come down with something by New Year’s Day, the smart money says that I’m in the clear until Halloween.

As I write this, I’m wrapping up day six of a yet-unfinished bout with a lovely little case of bronchitis, and, added at the very last minute, special guest pink eye. So if the deep congested coughs weren’t off-putting enough, my zombie eye should do the trick. So that means this year’s ill-iday was Thanksgiving. It seems like such a waste, doesn’t it? The best food day of the year, and you’re stuck eating chicken noodle soup, crashed out on the couch watching the peerlessly poor programming that is holiday television. (Is it just me, or does TV just suck like a Dyson vacuum these days? I didn’t any loss of suction on the tube this whole week.)

But then it occurred to me that actually being sick on a holiday is the ultimate in efficiency from a work perspective. You kill two birds with one stone; a sick day and a holiday day, buy one, get one free! And you don’t get crap about being gone for being sick, because everybody else was gone for the holiday. You didn’t miss anything, and there will be no extra catch up work or email to return. And no accusations about faking it to go golfing or fishing. (Is there anything more irritating than that? It makes you want to want to sneeze on their keyboard and wipe your clammy, sickly hands on their mouse.)

But wait yet it gets better. Sometimes holiday festivities are great fun and you look forward to them. More often though, its the same drive to the same place to eat the same food and talk about the same things with the same people as you have for years. While you don’t probably loathe the experience, the thought probably crosses your time that you’d much rather play computer games in your underwear all day instead. Well, if you’re sick, you get to live that dream and with everyone’s blessing. They usual suspects don’t want to catch whatever nasty thing is causing your hacking cough and running nose. Everybody’s happy! (And you’ll probably find you cough a lot less while engrossed in a good game, than you would listening to the same family argument.) And triple word score if you get a doggie bag!

Ever notice that after a festive holiday you come back to work more worn out than when you left? You won’t have that problem if you spend 18 hours of the day in the dark green comatose land of Nyquil. In spite of the midnight coughing fits and afternoon headaches, I’ve never been more relaxed and more rested than I have been this week.

This all brings to mind a book I read (and thoroughly enjoyed) earlier this year, How to Be Idle: A Loafer’s Manifesto. To sum it up in a few words, the book is advocates that everyone increase his or her indulgence in rest and relaxation, noting the decided lack of down time or personal time in modern western society. And it does this with a humorous tongue-in-cheek style. And as luck would have it, this book has a chapter on illness. In it, author Tom Hodgkinson, relates how illness gives one the opportunity to take a break, rest up and enjoy life. But as society evolves, this opportunity is being taken away by the abundance of convenient symptom-suppressing pills and the expectation that we’ll use them and get right back to work. Being sick on a holiday, however, completely removes the pressure to do anything productive. (Without digging too deep into the book, I suspect that readers of my blog will find it to be a great, entertaining read.)

I’m not naive enough to think that this book, or my mention of it will be enough to reverse the giant cogs of progress. People will get colds, they will pop some pills, and they will sniffle through their day in the office under the approving eye of management. All I’m saying is that you might consider hanging out in the doctors office the a day or two before a public holiday if you really want to have a good holiday. On second thought, just fake it, people will probably assume you are anyway!

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  1. Joe Drinker said,

    November 27, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    Well look who showed up not dead! I’m in the same boat as you: hardly ever sick, yet my supposedly “health-nut” friends are wadded up on the couch all the time, wiping whatever the bug-du-jour happens to be out of their nose. I’m telling you, a diet of mainly coffee and sushi seems to do the trick!

    Hope you make it out of this alive…rest up.


  2. Tex Cigars said,

    November 28, 2007 at 2:17 am

    haha, Man, I’m like that too. NEVER sick. But every once-in-a-while I’ll catch one and ohhhhh boy. It’s BAD. I will tell you this, since I started smoking 2 cigars a day and drinking coffee – I am sick even less. I don’t think I even got a cold this year. Perhaps a headache by drinking only one beer – haha. I do prefer orange juice over water – perhaps it’s the Vitamin C?

  3. Brian said,

    November 28, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Hey JD,
    Yep, I’m not dead yet! I have a whole bag full of drugs that says I’m gonna make it. Drops, inhalations, pills and creams. I got it all. Heck I even have Steroids! I’m a walking pharmacy right now. With ‘roid rage! (Now I gotta go break something, the rage is seizing control!)

    Isn’t it funny how sickly the nuts and twigs crowd can be? I’m reminded of those reports you hear about runners and body builders kicking the bucket unexpectedly in their mid 40’s.

    Hey Tex Cigars!
    Yeah, usually I can say the same. But when you gotta be sick, you might as well do it right! I’m talking about bronchitis. And pink eye. Yep, both.

    Good call in the vitamin C! The funny thing is that in the list of various medications I’m supposed to take, vitamin C was on the list! They got me doing 1000 mg three times a day. This is the first a doctors ever prescribed me a vitamin! Now if only I could light up a cigar, I think I’d kick this thing.

  4. Joe Drinker said,

    November 28, 2007 at 2:02 pm

    I know…my wife (herbal and organic stuff, vitamins, vegetarian, exercis-arian), is always sick…but me? Always well enough to take care of her. 😉

  5. November 28, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    Get well, Brian. Lace a stogie with aspirin and Amoxycillen(?) and kill two birds with one stone that way.

    Other than the creeping crud, I hope all is well with you and Mrs. Cigar Aficionado. Life has been a bit weird and hectic in Laurie Land lately and as mayor, dealing with that drama requires most if not all of my attention. So yes, I’ve not been by in a while.

    Take care and happy holidays.

    Let me know if there’s an Eggnog flavored Cohiba out there.


  6. babychaos said,

    November 29, 2007 at 1:21 pm

    Good point about the getting to feel a bit lame but being able to do it in the privacy of your own home when usually you’d be doing all the onerous family duty stuff.

    Then again… I think you should thank your lucky stars a little… your post reminds me of Christmas 1999 when after heaven knows how many years of marriage Mr BC and I were finally allowed to enjoy the festivities in our own home. My parents arrived Christmas Eve feeling “a bit ropey” and by the time we got to midnight mass it was abundantly clear they had flu. They retired to bed and don’t come out again until boxing day, when they made a bolt for home, went to bed and stayed there for three weeks…!

    Come New Year’s Eve 1999, yes, the TURN of the flipping century. I am with in-laws in their dark deserted street where everyone is out or tucked up in bed, except us. We have turned down an offer of New Year in Paris to be here (Mr BC’s sense of duty is pronounced). I suggest we walk to the next town where there’s a celebration in the square but nobody will because there are no pavements on the country road between the two and both they and Mr BC are convinced we will be run down by drunken locals. Never mind, I don’t really care, I have a temperature of 102 and spend the rest of our stay in bed in their spare room. Mr BC and I have the flu for three weeks, too. His parents are still coughing in March.

    Then there’s the time I got to my parents the day before Easter and realised my mum had pneumonia… Actually, I did manage not to catch that one!

    So it’s great, if you’re able to ascertain that you really are ill BEFORE you travel… but in my experience that doesn’t happen so you just end up going to the same old places and having the same old conversations AND feeling unbelievably crap at the same time… 😉

    My long winded way of saying that I reckon you’ve been a bit of a lucky, jammy so and so!

    I hope you are feeling better now!



  7. James said,

    November 29, 2007 at 9:13 pm

    Somehow your sickness has made it all the way to my house..

    And why am I not surprised you’re reading a book on how to loaf around?

    Hope you’re feeling better tho’…..


  8. Brian said,

    November 30, 2007 at 11:19 am

    JD: Yeah, I’ve noticed that anytime I’ve ever tried those herbal, alternative things I read about from time to time, it always ends with me getting ill in some way or another.

    Laurie Kendrick: Yep, the Missus is just fine. She’s got the same health track record I do, if not better. The whole time I was under the weather, I think she only coughed once.

    I don’t know about eggnog flavored cigars, but there are plenty of cigars infused with all sorts of flavors! Coffee, scotch or irish whiskey, chocolate, and other interesting botanicals!

    BC: Well, I haven’t always been that lucky! I blew 4 or 5 days of a holiday in Ireland sick in bed! But usually, I know about it before I get into an inconvenient spot. It really helps!

    James: Yeah, James, slacking doesn’t come as naturally for me as it does for you! 😉 I’m getting there, and it’s about time. All this not-smoking and not-drinking is really getting on my nerves.

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