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Behind the Curtain at TMM

Nobody Wants To Be Sick

Sniffle, sniffle. Cough, cough.

Oh, sorry; excuse me while I (cough) — I was just, you know, trying to get it together here.

I appreciate my colleague Lynn Neary for stepping in on short notice. It's a hard call to make — if you were raised with a strong work ethic, as I was — to have to call people at home first thing in the morning and say, "I just can't do it. I can't get in the car. I can't make it, the room is spinning. I have a fever." Well, it's hard.

I know that I was not much use to anybody on Monday and Tuesday but I still hated making that call. I feel like I'm letting people down — the people who worked hard to set up interviews for me, the people who were looking forward to talking to me in particular and not just to somebody at NPR, (hey, it happens) the people who have to figure out how to cover for me. I hate to let them down.

And it's not because I am afraid I'll lose my job. I'm not.

But, every time I do have to call in sick, it does make me think about all the people who are or who might be afraid they would lose their jobs for doing what I just did, however necessary.

This is not a simple issue and I realize that. There are very small businesses that rely on a small cadre of workers to get things done; every job is not suitable for temp labor and can't afford it anyway. I know how it throws me into a panic when my babysitter is sick. It's a ripple effect: if she doesn't work, then I can't either. But people do get sick. Nobody wants to be sick (but it happens), especially to people in certain fields.

The question I have is, with a majority of women in the paid labor force, why is this still a matter of private anxiety, and not a matter of some — some — shared social concern?