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HUBRIS (BLESS YOU)
What do you think is a defining characteristic of being human? I don't mean bipedal, tool-using, opposable thumbs, I think-therefore-I-am, human. I mean what sets us apart from the instinctual, animal, get enough to eat, mate, sleep, human?

Today, it was a sense of obligation. I say human because I doubt rabbits with a head cold give a shit about their responsibilities. Or bears. Do animals get colds? They must, since we're essentially animals, and we get colds.

Despite being REALLY sick with a whopper of a head cold that has been battening on me for days, I felt OBLIGATED to go to work today to do things that had to be done, because no one else could do them. I took yesterday off, even though I had a day full of meetings, waking up when my husband's alarm went off, and sending out a barrage of emails to my boss, my team, my department, the people I had meetings with, the friends I was supposed to go to lunch with to celebrate a birthday, saying: Sorry. Have to reschedule, have to cancel, have to rest.

But that stupid sense of obligation hung over me all day (except during the parts where I was actually sleeping the sleep of the brain-dead). I checked emails, and answered them. I checked messages. I checked the ticket system, and assigned a few to me to deal with today. I did the things I could do without having actual access to our network. I kept an eye on things. I WAS RESPONSIBLE.

Because I am so damn responsible, I went to work this morning, because we have our monthly partner eNews going out this week and I am in charge of the build/implementation of it, and the finalization needed to happen today so that the woman who handles the testing and sendouts could do her part tomorrow. Now, I KNOW intellectually that someone could have stepped in and dealt with it, if things had been really desperate, but I felt an OBLIGATION to do my job. A responsibility to get it done, because I didn't want to add more stress to an already-borderline-maxed-out team. We already have too much to do right now, and we've been short-staffed for ages, due to various things, and I just felt like I couldn't be a part of the problem, which I was already being, having stayed home sick one day already. I had to get back to being part of the solution. Right?

So, I went in to work, and I did the eNews, and then I did a bunch of ads that needed to be done, and I answered emails, and took some tickets and got nearly caught up on the stuff that didn't get done yesterday because I wasn't there. I got yelled at by my boss and my teammates and my colleagues, asking WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE? Go home! Rest!

Yes, but. I'm just gonna... you know the syndrome. It's so human, to think we have these obligations, these responsibilities; that we are irreplaceable. That we are immortal. That, in the long run, getting the eNews out on time really matters. What I was doing didn't have to do with the eNews. Not really. It had to do with my essential feeling of human obligation. A probably misplaced one, but in today's world, work is where you most often show your peers that you are responsible. God knows I do it at home, too, most of the time, though yesterday, I actually didn't do a damn thing around the house, if you don't count sneezing, coughing, snucking and general laying-about.

I did go home, finally, just after 2 o'clock, about 3 hours after I should have, and to the loud relief of my co-workers, who shooed me out the door and told me to get some rest. I don't know about tomorrow yet, since I still feel like hammered shit, but even if the eNews is ready, there is still that one advert to layout, and that flyer that got approved and can be finalized, and the presentation that urgently needs spiffing up, and the two meetings that have already been rescheduled once...
 sick
mood: sick
music: does the wheezing in my lungs count?


Comments
(Anonymous)

See, we know we should stay home, but what the non-sick people don't get is that if we don't show up, the world will go up in flames and NO ONE ELSE KNOWS WHERE THE TONER IS.

So I feel for you. Also, I just feel for you, no fun. Also, at least for me there's the knowledge that there's this influenza bug running around that is just waiting to kill us. Whenever I sneeze I mentally start writing goodbye notes.

REST!!! Get better quickly. I have a feeling you and I are going to be blogging at each other for the rest of time and I want you in the game.

*appropriate emoji would go here*

*inappropriate but anatomically correct emoji here*

Chuck

It’s true! I thought I was the only one who knows where the toner is AND HOW TO REPLACE IT. Flames, indeed!

(Anonymous)
Bad colds should be illegal

I remember those days of feeling an unwavering sense of obligation to do my job. Even when I felt like I had been choked and thrust inside an operating meat grinder, I went to work. I was indispensable. That was before I decided I'd had enough. I advised my clients to find someone else to do their work, closed my business, and retired early. Watching organizations that relied on me for their very survival (I though) get along quite well without me was a bit of a blow to my ego. I got over it. Mostly. The sense of obligation remains, but practices its profession elsewhere now. I hope your cold disappears quickly and completely. And I hope you have not infected your entire organization with your sense of obligation. :-)

John

RE: Bad colds should be illegal

Heh. Probably not. I am just the latest in a long line of sick coworkers.

Seriously, Liz, take care of YOURSELF. I spent years at my desk, half-dead, because no one could do certain things that I did. I even cancelled holidays, came in week-ends, early, stayed late, whatever. And you know what? When I retired, the world (and more importantly, the office) not only did not stop, but has gone on very nicely without me. Maybe not the way I would have done things, but after a few e-mails the first month, more in the nature of "where is ...", that has been it.

I know, I know. I'm trying. I think it would be easier if it was stomach flu, you know? Something more SERIOUS than a stupid head cold.

I echo what Carolyn wrote, but at the same time I fully understand that big sister responsibility that sets in and makes you feel that you HAVE to make sure everything is running properly. We learn this young - I know with myself that I don't like being blamed or letting people down. I always was the one who showed up, who volunteered, who came through, who delivered, who could be relied on, the one who always did the "right" thing. I often joke that if some disaster happened and for some reason I was the only person left on the planet, I still wouldn't park in the handicapped parking spot!

As L-G noted, I'm highly attuned to other people's needs and rather tone-deaf to my own sometimes. I suspect that you are as well. In part, I think it stems from my upbringing. My family was very supportive in many ways, but when it came to emotions, my mother's dominated and there was no room for anyone else's; if you expressed a different view of things you were just told you were "wrong". It wasn't mean or angry, but it still invalidated me. It took a long time (way into adulthood) for me to even acknowledge that my own feelings and opinions actually mattered. It's always about what everyone else wants and needs, with me seeming to have no needs (except to meet those external obligations).

That was long and rambling, wasn't it? Anyway, I think that you need to put Liz first sometimes and to let others take responsibility if things don't work out because you weren't there. Easier said than done I know. I do hope that you are feeling much better today - some of those viruses at the moment are hanging around forever.

Heh. I don't think I ever thought my needs didn't matter (ask anyone in my family) but I think I've always had a sense of responsibility. I think it would be easier if I had stomach flu or something more serious. A stupid head cold is just a WASTE OF TIME.

(Anonymous)

Sorry that you are still sick -but the responsibity thing is just your 1st born/type A personality yelling very loud. Listen to your Mother...."stay home and take care of YOURSELF for once!" That always comes first- like the airlines say ..."put your oxygen mask on first, then...." Love, Lizardmom

(Anonymous)
From Megsie

I hope you feel better soon. I HATE being sick. It ALL is a waste of time. I stayed home yesterday too, but it was a MENTAL health day for me. I am so behind I was starting to become to anxious to deal. I am still behind, but not nearly what I was. Which is why I am here! Sending love and healing your way!

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