As the Great Plague swept through 17th century London, the mayor ordered households wherein there were plague sufferers marked with a red cross a foot long. It served as a warning to others that those inside were quarantined and exposure meant grave risk both to the individual who risked exposure as well as to the surrounding homes. It was a dramatic gesture and looks great on a movie screen, but of course it probably had next to no effect on reducing instances of plague in the City.
Sitting at my desk listening to the sputum-filled coughing of nearly everyone around me makes me wonder how long until the Public Health Command seals us in and splashes that foot long cross upon the outer door or tries to purify us with cleansing fire. I suppose we’re all plague carriers now, myself included. We’ve spent most of the last month passing this thing between us with no sign of it letting up.
It’s almost like there’s something inherently unhealthy about cramming 30 people into a 25×100 foot windowless box breathing recirculated air for eight hours a day.
This past weekend was beautiful… so I’ve been told. I spent the lions share of it alternating between laying on the couch sleeping, laying in the recliner sleeping, or actually in bed. Sadly, in bed was mostly tossing and turning sporadically until I got too annoyed to keep at it.
Under most other circumstances I feel like I would have enjoyed the kind of four day weekend that was almost completely passed at home. As it is, I don’t remember much of it until my immune system seemed to get its act together yesterday afternoon. As much as I appreciate not spending another day at the office feeling like ass, having something to show for the long weekend would have been much nicer.
As it is, I feel like I’ve somehow been cheated out of my time off – betrayed by my own dirty dealing respiratory system. Yes, I’m aware that sounds just a little bit crazy, but I want my weekend back damnit. Time off shouldn’t count against you when you’re legitimately worried about hacking up a lung.
I’ve definitely acquired some kind of crud. Since everyone at the office seems to be hacking or wheezing with something, that doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Our cube set up so closely approximates a late 19th century tenement that I’m surprised there aren’t reports of cholera outbreaks from the back of the room.
As sickness goes, the nagging cough and steady drip from my nose is far from the worst thing going around. It’s enough to be obnoxious – and enough to drive me deeper into the arms of Big Pharma to find some relief. The side effect of the OTC cocktail I whipped up, though, is the really delightful feeling of being just shy of stoned through a good portion of the day. I should probably apologize to anyone who got an email from me today. The spelling, punctuation, and even message itself is likely suspect.
I don’t really feel bad and I suppose that is the small mercy. I’m already burning enough sick leave this week on appointments that I’d really like to avoid wasting more of it on actually being sick.
1. Mandatory attendance. If you want me as seat filler, just say so. Don’t pitch it as a great opportunity to hear some very important words if you’re just looking for asses in chairs. With more to do and fewer people to do it, spending two hours bored to tears hardly feels like the most efficacious use of limited resources, but I’m just a guy sitting here so what the hell do I know.
2. Stuff in my head. I’m feeling pretty good, especially considering how absolutely shitty I was feeling last week. I can’t seem to shake the giant wad of funk that’s taken root deep in my sinuses though. If I could get rid of the wondrous endlessly dripping nose and occasional hacking cough all would be pretty right with the world just now.
3. Paving. Roads need to get paved. It’s one of the few things I don’t mind paying taxes to fund. That being said, it would be awfully convenient if it could be scheduled in such a way as to not take place during peak traffic hours. Seems to me that there are large swaths of time in the middle of the night that would be useful for doing that kind of work that wouldn’t cause mayhem and chaos with everyone else’s schedule… but again, what the hell do I know about operations and logistics.
The first day back to work after a proper vacation is traumatic enough. The first day back after the better part of a week out sick is something altogether different. It’s the combination of having a ridiculous backlog of work to go through, still feeling vaguely like ass, and having experienced none of the restorative effects of sitting somewhere sunny enjoying run drinks I guess.
At any rate after a week of guzzling Gatorade, more meals of soup than I want to think about, and generally feeling like so much warm death, my shoulder is back to the wheel. It’s good to be off the couch and all, but as it turns out I’m not all that opposed to staying home and dividing my time between binge watching Netflix, reading through two or three titles on my Kindle, and napping periodically with one or both dogs. Maybe that’s a good sign that I won’t be bored in retirement.
All things considered, it’s good to be on the mend… but as it turns out there are definitely worse things than periodic self-enforcing periods of general rest. Even knowing that, after a day back I’m ready to crawl into bed and sleep for a week.
Maybe it’s because I’ve lived on my own for most of my adult life, but when I see sitcoms or commercials making fun of the “man cold,” I really have no idea what they’re talking about. Sure, I stayed home from work, but given the shit ton of sick leave I’ve banked over the last 14 years I don’t exactly feel guilty about that.
My point here is that even if my breathing rattles like a steam locomotive, there’s mucus oozing out of every opening, and I sound like I’ve swallowed a bassoon, there are no enablers here. Meals needs prepped, dogs need tended, and there’s a household to run whether I feel great or not… so I do hope you’ll forgive me if I struggle to understand exactly how my gender is supposed to be debilitated by the average summer cold. Just color me confused.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to scavenge another box of tissues and another bottle of NyQuil.
After the first couple of torrential rainstorms last spring showed some of the design and execution flaws that went into making Fortress Jeff something less than watertight I went on a bit of a spree. Almost the entire back yard got subtly regraded to direct water away from the foundation. We buried a five inch line and routed a hidden drain and two downspouts into it in an effort to manage water flowing off the roof and sidewalk. I bricked up and waterproofed a basement window to eliminate a window well that did double duty as a retaining pond. With those changes, water management in the back yard has improved significantly… or it had up until this spring.
That’s when I noticed the in ground drain was starting to back up under the heaviest of downpours. Hundreds of gallons of rainwater dumping directly against the foundation is not my idea of a good time. Until today, most of the heaviest rains took place when I was away from the house or asleep. A few hours ago, a torrential downpour caught me at home and I got to see first hand the water shooting out the side of one of the standpipes.
Being on the sick list today, some people might have opted to look into the situation later. My particular brand of “fix it right the hell now” obsession doesn’t lend itself well to that kind of deferred curiosity. It was pouring down rain. My fancy drain system wasn’t working. I wanted to fix it or at least satisfy myself why it was off the rails.
I was soaked to the bone before I’d even made it halfway across the yard. Did I mention it was absolutely pouring at this point? Armed with a couple of sections of extendable probe and a shovel, I sloshed through the yard and down through the woods to where the drain reaches daylight. I could have saved myself the time and effort of carrying tools, because as soon as I tapped the edge of the plastic drain cover, the pressure of water behind it sent the cover skidding between by feet… to be followed immediately by a 5-inch diameter tube of rancid muck that was serving to plug the drain. How exactly it expanded from that 5-inch diameter to cover me from mid-chest to toes over a span of two feet, I will never understand. Just one of the many wonders of water pressure.
My best guess is this conglomeration of mud and muck was obstructing just enough of the pipe that it let a light rain or the sump discharge drain more or less unimpeded. Once under pressure, say from a 100-foot long column of water behind it, the foul-smelling stuff expanded to block off the drain completely and sent the overflow looking for the next easiest outlet. At least that’s what I think it was doing before it blew up all over my face.
The good news is that the drains are all flowing just fine now. The bad news is that I may have contracted ebola, zika, cholera, typhoid, or ghonoherpasyphilaids from whatever foul substance came flying out of that drain. If this is my last post, at least now you’ll know how it ended.