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So, I got sent home from work the other day.

It turns out that I have become “that guy.” The one that tries to “power through” because he “isn’t contagious anymore anyway.”

It isn’t my fault, though.

I had already taken the previous day off. That matters, because the first school I worked at frowned sternly at taking any time off at all for any reason, up to and including illness-bordering-on-death, funerals for immediate family, and weddings. Yep, weddings. Booked your nuptials before being hired and want to take a few days off before and after the big weekend? NOPE! ONE DAY BEFORE AND ONE DAY AFTER! NO MORE!

I wish I were making that up.

I think that four years under this culture, that taking time off for illness was at best a deliberate inconvenience put upon the office and at worst an attempt to defraud the owner and principal, left me really hesitant to ever take a day off. Now that I’m working in the public board, where the right to take a day off to get healthy is protected by my union, I’m still finding myself feeling like staying at home is… I don’t know… bad. To take two days off in a row, even though I was still running a fever of 103 degrees seems madly, deliriously irresponsible.

It’s a weird bit of guilt to carry around, more than five years after I left that place and all its insular, unaccountable employment practices. It’s like realizing that a long-since-ended dysfunctional relationship still makes you buy skim milk.