I’ve acquired strep throat. I could have ended up with the virus that’s going around instead, but no: my immune system got overstressed, and it chose strep. Which is fine with me – easy to survive with antibiotics, as long as you minimize swallowing for the first 24 hours. Bed rest is also lovely, but here’s the thing about the company I work for: you can only get Family and Medical Act leave if you’re out for three days. If you don’t need to be out for three days, you don’t get excused under FMLA. You just rack up the attendance points until you risk getting fired. In the meantime, your chances of promotion or transfer are destroyed, because you’ve ended up on a written warning for the crime of being sick too many times. This is how American companies work. And keep in mind, this is a company with a rather generous attendance policy compared to some.
So you come in sick, sit your highly-contagious self down, and suffer.
Our company has one thing many other companies don’t: an on-site medical clinic. So I’ve got me antibiotics. (And yes, I know I said I don’t care if I get fired, but getting fired for being absent due to illness isn’t part of the plan. I don’t care if I get fired as long as they’re firing me for telling them to fix their shit and protesting mandatory overtime. I don’t care to give them any other cause. That’s why my miserable ass was planted at my desk today.) We also have an on-site cafe that sells things like frozen fruit puree. I’m one of the lucky ones: my writing skills mean I can always find a supervisor to give me a research/writing project, which means off-phone time, which means not having to try to talk while it feels like gnomes are mining my tonsils. Antibiotics, frozen stuff, projects: set.
And I have two wonderful coworkers who do not like to see people suffer. When Amanda came by and saw me wincing every time I had to swallow, she decided she must fill me up with tea. Starspider then brought out her collection. This woman takes her tea very, very seriously, so Amanda had plenty to work with. And while I didn’t want them fussing, it’s pretty much impossible to turn down strawberry-flavored tea with honey that smells like unicorns, rainbows and relief.
So there I was, moments later, sipping soothing tea prepared for me by two wonderful women. And I thought, “I need to do something to thank them. Can’t hug them – that’s reserved for enemies just now, at least during the contagious phase. So what can I do?”
And it came to me: baby duckies! I can make them a baby duckie video.
So I did.
How cute are they? I had quite the little adventure with them this spring. There were about four billion babies out, and some of them hadn’t quite figured out what humans were for yet. One particular group of ducklings were quite curious, and mama didn’t seem to mind, so I crouched down to say hello.
I held out a hand by way of saying hello, and they had a moment of confusion. One of them, the one on the left, was quite vocal about it.
You may notice the calculating look on the middle one’s face. Apparently, someone at some point in its young life had been handing out bread, and it now associated hands with yum. It came over for a closer look.
Finding no bread, it decided to try the other flat, white thing in front of it.
Yepper. That’s a baby duckie biting my fingers. It was adorable as hell. Poor little thing was mightily surprised when I turned out to be inedible. I think its mom was amused.
I hope this goes some small way towards making my nurses grin in delight. And hopefully a few of you grinned as well. As for my sick self, I’m going to go supplement the antibiotics with chocolate gelato and the world’s worst dance movie*, and see if I can’t beat this thing quickly. Wouldn’t do to waste that head start Amanda and Caeli gave me, amirite?
* I exaggerate. The plot is teh suck and the writing clanks like a sabotaged steam engine, but the dancing’s good, the music’s catchy, and there are some lovely whimsical bits. Also, it was free. It’s fun to have on in the background whilst making videos of baby duckies for some of the most caring people I know.