March 5, 2002
Rehearsing


Tuesday morning, 5:47 a.m. 

I am standing in the shower, rehearsing my *sick voice.*

"Hi JoAnne," I sniffle daintily. "I'm not feeling well, so I won't be coming in today."

Nope. Too generic. Too breezy. Bosses prefer it when you grovel a little.

I clear my throat and try again. "Hi JoAnne," I wheeze, punctuating it with a nice wet stage cough. "I had a really rocky night last night -- I don't know if it's allergies or a virus, but my sinuses are killing me -- and I'm afraid that it wants to turn into an infection. So I think maybe I'd better stay home and take it easy for a day ... take some medicine, sleep for awhile, see if I can keep it from getting worse ... "

That won't work, either. Too chatty. The #1 rule of calling in "sick" is to avoid volunteering too many details. The more details you give, the more details you'll have to remember later. Plus I don't sound nearly sick enough to pull off a pending 'sinus infection': the steam from my shower must have declogged me a little. If I wait another hour or so to call -- if I hold back on taking any Sudafed, and I forego nasal spray entirely for the next sixty minutes -- I can probably build up a pretty good headful of snot by 8 a.m.

The more plugged-up I sound, the more convincing my story.

Telling the truth, of course, is out of the question: that I just plain don't feel like coming to work today ... that a week of PMS and hay fever [(and the OTC's I've been swallowing like breath mints) have left me feeling limp and blah and sorry for myself ... that I haven't had a bona fide Alone Day (sans David, drop-in apartment maintenance personnel and/or little jabbering voices) in weeks, and I'm desperately craving a day of solitude and voluntary silence.  I want to sit around in my Happy Pants all day! I want to listen to my new dB's CD! I want to read "Racketty Packetty House"! I want to catch up on e-mail, and download background tiles, and write a couple of decent journal entries! I want to drink Fast Lane Tea and eat Tim's Cascade Potato Chips, straight out of the bag!

Eventually, though, I end up doing what I always do: I finish taking my shower, and I get dressed, and I go to work.

As David drives me to the office, I console myself with the knowledge that I probably would have felt too guilty to enjoy a hooky day anyway. Calling in "sick" and leaving JoAnne in the lurch isn't my style. Plus I'd rather save my hooky day for a real emergency. Like a day next month when the Tots are in town. Or a day when David can play hooky with me.

(Or tomorrow, maybe. Depending on how today goes.)

By the time I get into the office I'm feeling marginally better. The pseudoephedrine and Ibuprofen have kicked in: I can breathe freely, AND I'm mostly cramp-free. As I settle into my desk with my coffee and the morning mail, I see the red voicemail light blinking on my phone.

I punch in my password and bring up my message.

"Hi Secra," wheezes JoAnne ... sounding as though Death is standing right behind her, waiting for her to hurry up and finish her phone call so they can resume their gin rummy game. "I don't know if it's a cold or hay fever ... but my sinuses are killing me this morning. Think you can manage without me today?"



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"happy pants" = incredibly ugly red paisley leggings.
i LOVE them.