NROP: Absences – Because Why Work?

As I place the cursor on the nearly blank page, I smile. Warmth expands in my chest because I realize that some of you who have ‘known’ me for a few years can often predict what my take on an issue will be, which means that you really do know me. These virtual connections can really be so fulfilling. Thank you for that!

Back in the day, I would go years without missing a single day of school. While I complained about having to go on my Birthday or when it was snowing so hard you could barely see a few feet in front of you, I always felt very happy and proud at the end of the school year when among awards for other things, I received a book for not missing a day. Not many people got those, so it made me feel special. More books meant more fun things to read during summertime when I did not go anywhere.

My parents insisted on me going to school every single day (even if I did not feel my best) so that I did not miss out on anything. The only time I got to stay in was when I was visibly sick and a doctor would prescribe antibiotics and order me to stay home. Then, I would arrange for my friends to bring me their notes on a regular basis so that I could ‘catch up.’ After all, I had nothing better to do while stuck in bed.

In order to call someone my friend, I need to be able to rely on them. It does not mean that I will call upon that often, anytime soon, if at all, but having that peace of mind that if you do ask for help someone will be there for you is huge. It seems to me that reliability is one of those traits that used to be valuable in the past but seems rather forgotten these days.

A work ethic had been instilled in me long before I went into the workforce. I have been told to do my best and work hard to get what I wanted. While that mostly worked in school, I caught on fairly quickly that adult life is not always fair. Working harder does not always mean that you will be paid more than those who do not, or that you will be promoted over them. I tried to care less, but it is hard for me to maintain that state. Instead, I choose to believe that if you work for the right person, they will see what you do and they will recognize you instead of those who do not put as much heart and effort into their job. (I feel like my current boss is one of those people, but I think that their boss is not, which might be a problem later down the line.)

Over the weekend, I read about certain individuals (Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) are asking for Amazon’s leave policy to be investigated because they believe it penalizes people for taking time off due to emergencies. If your first reaction is – ‘That’s good, right?’ – just give it a moment.

I still remember how I called my co-worker one evening asking them what I should do because I was having a terrible migraine and I did not think I would be able to go in to work the following day. They told me to simply call our boss and leave them a message saying I would not be in. ‘Keep it short,’ they told me. Even though I felt physically terrible due to the headache that felt like my head was going to explode, I also felt terrible for leaving my workplace short-staffed. In my mind, my supervisor would ask a million follow-up questions about my absence. Turns out – even though I was missed and had extra work to do when I got back – the world did not collapse and I did not get fired (I was not even questioned).

My direct supervisors have always been rather understanding, which I truly appreciate, but never dared to abuse. When my mom was nearing the end of her journey here on Earth, I filled out FMLA paperwork (Family and Medical Leave of Absence) just to make sure that no actions could be taken against me if I did not come to work because something emergent happened to my mom. I only used it when I had to and still did my work around it whenever I could.

Having had such flexible jobs has always been a blessing that I recognize. Not everyone would be able to do the same in some of their jobs.

No matter how urgent my situation was, I always found a moment and a way to call/text my boss to warn them I would not be in the next day (or once or twice even the same day). To me – that is just common courtesy. I would have to be in a coma to not let work know I was not coming in. But, apparently, not everyone feels that way. Throughout my professional life, I have encountered MULTIPLE people who just either showed up late or not at all without a single phone call or a message. We had to call them to find out they were not coming in. What? How do you expect to be taken seriously? And yes – these people were totally capable of getting in touch.

The lawmakers are ‘worried’ that people are penalized for not notifying their supervisors about their absences. “Amazon’s Attendance Points Policy punishes workers for missing work unexpectedly, regardless of the reason,” their later states. It later goes on to say that Amazon has a policy that allows the company to accrue points against an employee if they do not report their absence at least two hours before their scheduled shift. If you have three such infractions in 60 days, then your employment will be reviewed. Three. In 60 days. Unscheduled.

The example they use is a mother with a kid who has an asthma attack and is taken to the Emergency Room the night before. When I read things like that, I remind myself to breathe (no pun intended). Of course, your kid is more important than work. However, you cannot tell me that you do not have a moment throughout the entire night to report your absence. Do it when your kid is asleep. Or when the medical professionals are working on them and they ask you to leave the room. Do you not go to the bathroom the entire time? Call from there!

There are terrible bosses and terrible employers, but you have no right to complain about fair bosses if YOU are a terrible employee. For the majority of us, if we do the right thing and give notice, the law should be able to protect us. But, if we expect the law to protect us without doing our part… then we are just entitled brats. As if we need any more of those…

Stay golden,

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41 thoughts on “NROP: Absences – Because Why Work?

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  1. I know what you mean by going to school or work when you’re not feeling well just so you can get your work done now you get paid to stay home so to speak. Whatever happened to a good work ethic(s)?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I never got the attendance award. I have a problematic immune system that has led to a lifetime of chronic bronchitis. I went to work and school when I shouldn’t sometimes, infecting the masses, mostly because of our societal attitude about attendance equalling being a good person. Though I would’ve liked a book.

    In hindsight, I mostly feel content about infecting the jerks 😅

    I like your comment on good employers. I think perhaps you might be overestimating the number of good employers and underestimating the bad, especially with companies like Amazon (very bad indeed).

    Corporations don’t like legislation. They promise they will be good actors without it. Every bit of evidence, however, tells us this is untrue. I agree, however, that there needs to be a level of personal accountability: you’re right in that the woman should’ve used one minute somewhere to call in.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea, I knew some kids who had a ‘more ‘problematic immune system’ than others. I felt bad for them that they never stood the chance, no matter how hard they tried.

      We’ve had some professors who looked at you as if you were inferior if you were sick and did not come in. It was definitely weird. It’s something I’ve thought about recently – Will we ever be OK with a person next to us sniffling? Or will we always worry about a deadly disease? We used to be fine with such things for the most part.

      Infecting the jerks 🙂

      Promises don’t seem to mean a thing in this world and it saddens me greatly. It makes my trust issues even worse.

      And absolutely about the woman! Excuses. But you are right – there are all sorts of employers many far from perfect.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Notifying my manager when I was sick was horror to me.
    Like you, I was scared they would ask more and even make me prove it.
    So I would often choose to just go to work anyhow.
    I didn’t get any recognition for it. And I regret each time I choose work over my health.

    I have once faked a physical illness when it was more of a mental illness issue.
    But who would ever admit that to a manager.

    I think a lot of people miss use the excuse of “my children are sick so I have to stay home”.
    I bet these kind of things would happen much less if workplaces weren’t so toxic.
    But indeed, some employees are very lazy and do anything to have less responsibilities.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was worried the ‘prove it’ would happen to me but quickly realized you can’t prove everything and employers cannot cross certain boundaries. Knowing that still didn’t make me feel better. I think it’s just the people we are.

      Working sick can be truly a miserable experience. You suffered and your work often suffered, too, so it was losses all around. But now that many people can stay home while not feeling their best… it’s a double-edged sword – one one hand it’s good that you are able to stay in the comfort of your own but on the other – it’s even more difficult to put your foot down and say that you are unable to work.

      Exactly – the fault is on both sides often.


  4. I fell and broke my hip (at work). Actually, I turned and broke my hip and THEN fell. I went to the doctor’s office in an ambulance directly from the office. I was told to wait over the weekend for a special brace and that I’d have to wear until the break healed–about 6 weeks. I could move my left foot inches at a time. It took me an hour to go the 20 feet to the bathroom. I had ST disability but it was only a couple of days. So I painfully moseyed around with my brace and crutches. 2 months later, I had my re-replacement of the spike part of the artificial hip. I didn’t qualify for LT disability, so 2 days after my operation, I was back at work (and in pain). I applied for the DDA exception to the 1/2 hour limit for breaks because it STILL took me an hour to get to the bathroom and back. So I was skipping my lunch and 2 bathroom breaks so I could go to the bathroom once. I finally got approval 8 months after my operation at which point I was moving pretty well and back onto a regular work schedule. My neighbor (in the cubicle next door) was leaving every Friday because of headaches. These were not the mind-bending, eye-blinding, pull-this-stick-out-of-my-head headaches. Every Friday. About 1 hour before the market closed. Very suspicious. While I’m sitting next to him in a brace and crutches for 10 months and in considerable pain every single hour of every single day. Needless to say, I was a bit bitter.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I’m not in favor of punitive working environments and trying to manage humans like cattle instead of through good leadership and proper engagement. With that said, I don’t think this is a legal question. If we want to address inequality or abuse of power in the workplace then we would need to address the fundamental balance of power between labor and management vs. nitpicking against minor policies.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My sister works at a largish chain restaurant based in California.
    Her location has about 30 employees. 12 regularly show up.
    8 are known for ditching work without a word. These 8 show up for about 30% of their scheduled shifts, and yet they somehow stay hired.
    My sister ends up doing a lot of overtime.

    Frankly, I’d be pleased if someone cracked down on people who drop out of work without reason or due notice. Lots of responsible people suffer for other’s laziness. There are bad employers out there, but there’s such a thing as a lack of common decency on the part of employees, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always marveled at how people can be terrible employees and still keep their jobs without anyone even saying anything to them. These days – with the staffing shortages everywhere – more and more people will begin to perform on a sub-par level because they know their employers cannot afford losing them, too.

      Your last two sentences said it so well. “Lots of responsible people suffer for other’s laziness. There are bad employers out there, but there’s such a thing as a lack of common decency on the part of employees, too.” I wonder if people realize that it’s not really their employer that suffers if they just don’t show up for work, but more often than not – it’s their coworkers. ‘Common decency’ seems to be harder and harder to find.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve heard some alarming things about Amazon such as one can not use the toilet because the employees are only given so much time to take a bathroom break and it is impossible to walk to the restroom and back in the huge warehouses without going over the set time and getting docked. There is also a problem with Amazon delivery personnel getting penalized for taking bathroom breaks while on route so there is a lot of use of empty coke bottles and you better hope you are a dude! So it doesn’t surprise me that they don’t allow valid time off for employees either. I doubt that most of these people are just lazy. I remember the one and only time I did call in sick for my retail job it was to play hooky. This was so out of character that when I returned to work the next day, everyone was really concerned that I must have been on death’s door!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That sounds terrible.
      I don’t think they don’t ‘allow valid time off’ as much as they are asking for communication. At least in the part that I was talking about in this piece.

      I cannot not think how those Amazon drivers are in that position because of the customers. People want their delivery within a ridiculous amount of time. Do you REALLY need something within the hour? Maybe you can live without it until you go out to the store. Heck, going to get it yourself might save you time. And when the delivery is late, they leave a low review. We ask for employees to be treated in a good way, but do we – ask customers – treat them the right way?

      That personal bit was funny. Glad to hear that you were OK after all.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I have worked with ministries that are entirely volunteer, and the tendency to skip out is there, too, possibly even more than with a paying job. But on the up side, people have volunteered because it’s something they WANT to do, so it may balance out. In either case, it’s easy to tell who’s committed and who will show up “if there’s nothing else going on.” (🤦)
    (Of course, the last two years have totally changed attitudes toward “toughing it out” and coming to work when you don’t feel well!)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well, see, this boggles my mind even more. If you VOLUNTEER for something and they don’t show up… It almost feels worse to me. I makes me think of a Christmas party at a club where everyone was supposed to bring something specific. And then a couple of people decided to just not show up and the party ended up without drinks or dessert…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just finished leading a five-week study of one of my books, which we planned around the schedule of one of the ladies, because it was the only day and time she could make it, and after the first meeting we didn’t see her again. She may have had valid reasons for her absences, I give her the benefit of the doubt, it just seems a little ironic. For these things I always pray and trust that whoever is supposed to be there will, and it always works out. As usual, I ‘m not the One in control. 😏😉

        Liked by 1 person

          1. We had a group text, and she sometimes would say what she was doing that day, but I didn’t want to be the one saying, “Hey, why haven’t you been coming?” Not that I would phrase it like that, but I have done that before (“We missed you.”) and people felt pressured. I don’t need excuses from them, that’s between them and God. Besides, when the excuse is that they felt the Lord telling them to stay home and pray, it’s a good opportunity for me to practice not taking it personally (like a slight from the Lord) and let God be the judge. I don’t have time to chase people down. It seemed every week we’d have new people come in, so I just put Jesus in charge of attendance. 😉

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I understand.
              I like to reach out and see if the reason is valid or not. Closure in a way. But, your reasoning is so much more evolved.
              However, what if that person thinks that you hate her because you put in so much effort and she didn’t come? Maybe she feels ashamed to reach out and explain herself. And once that started, she can’t just ‘show up’ without it being awkward.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. The study was only five weeks (I was visiting from out of state.) I don’t think there was anyone who was there all five weeks, and that’s something I’ve learned to be okay with. It’s also helping me not to get my feelings hurt when I miss something and no one reaches out to me (although I usually let them know why I didn’t show up.) Like when I came back home and the way people said hi to me at church it was obvious they didn’t realize I’d been gone for six weeks. 😄 I had to remind myself, church isn’t about me. 😏

                Liked by 1 person

  9. Maybe it’s a sign of the times (and what looks like we evolving into self-entitled petty beings just looking to be offended)
    I think the only time I missed school was when I had chicken pox and that was mostly because chicken pox was contagious 🤣 the other times I trooped on to school with various injuries and ailments sometimes even going to doctors during break or after class and maybe even being late for class because first stopped at doctor’s, I think can count on my fingers the total days I missed from school.
    Looking back sure the were some days I would not have been faulted for missing school but I went anyway… Now I watch these kids who just say I have a headache and it’s no school for the day for them 🤣 no explanation.

    Now I work with various people and the one thing I appreciate is good communication, if something comes up just let others know, you don’t even have to give specifics but at least notify…
    While I do appreciate sometimes one can be in an emergency that might not make it possible to communicate, like being in a coma or dead 😶
    I saw an interesting conversation on Twitter where people were complaining that bosses who want you to check in are control freaks who want to micromanage your time wait I thought it was supposed to be about simply notifying if you can’t make it instead of them having to look for you and ask if you are still coming in…

    Anyhoo maybe it’s effects climate change we turning into mush


    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, I stayed in for a week when I had chicken pox. I laughed because you’re right – I couldn’t go to school because it was highly contagious and not because I would have been on the floor scratching myself the entire time.

      These days we have snow days and like you said – you don’t go for any little thing. I feel like kids are going to start using ‘mental health day’ as an excuse much more often soon enough rather than trying to fake a fever.

      Notify. Exactly. Common decency and it shows respect.

      Hahahahha! Things like the thread you describe on Twitter make me weep.

      And your last bit has me almost dropping to the floor and laughing.


  10. From birth, we are taught to be good little cogs in the machine. “Be a productive part of society, my child.”
    Yeah, right. Grow up and go to work for the Man. Spend 50% of your waking time grinding down your fingers or your mind — just to eat or have a roof over your head.
    Fuck that.
    I’m stuck in this machine and I hate it. In fact, I pretty much hate life because of this machine.
    “Oh, I’m a good cog. A damn good cog. I can’t wait for the machine to get struck by an asteroid and get wiped out.”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I never really liked the idea of missing out on a class or a workday because of how much I’d be missing out on the original experience/knowledge/events hahah It’s so much easier today to forewarn those concerned by your situation though so I have a hard time imagining those who don’t think about doing it unless it’s an older generation… 😛

    Liked by 2 people

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