The healthy person's rights in an office

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    Oct 29, 2009 12:09 AM GMT
    I was sitting at my desk at work the day before yesterday and a colleague, who had had a god-awful cold a couple of weeks ago and has been sniffling ever since, came up from behind me, leaned over to see my computer screen and just emptied his lungs in a great sigh that enveloped my head in his hot breath.

    I knew I was a dead man walking at that very moment.

    [more about me or skip to The Point below]

    I that surprising moment all I did was turn, asked him if he was hard of seeing, and told him to back off from my personal space.

    When I got home that night, I immediately made a fresh glass of juice, ate my broccoli and cauliflower with vinegar, took a vitamin pill with zinc to boaster the immune response.

    But, sure 'nuff, I started to feel the inflammation of my sinuses yesterday.

    However, since I eat a really healthy diet all the time, my immune system seems to have shaken it off already.

    The Point

    It seems to me that I, as a healthy person in an office, shouldnt have to endure and accept reckless and inconsiderate behavior from fellow employees who are sick.

    Just like there are ethics rules about sexual harassment and other behaviors where the perpetrators are held responsible for their behavior, so sick people should be held responsible for their behavior.

    The virulently ill should be expected to stay home. Hacking and coughing with unobstructed abandon should not be tolerated. Coughers should be expected to have a handkerchief handy to cover their mouths. Those that are sniffling and contagious should be expected to conduct themselves so as to minimize the likelihood of their spreading their illness.

    I think the time has come for the ill people in an office to be held responsible for their conduct and not for the healthy people to have to take whatever behavior these people choose to inflict on others when they come to work.


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    Oct 29, 2009 1:25 AM GMT
    It's hard to avoid germs in an office. There's a lot of things that everyone touches.. copy machines, fax machines, refrigerator door, toaster, bathroom door handles, etc.

    The last place I worked at provided a well stocked kitchen. I would always be weary of eating anything from the kitchen. Some people don't wash their hands before grabbing a bagel from the bag. And there were a few people that didn't wash their hands after using the bathroom. Bleh.
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    Oct 29, 2009 1:46 AM GMT
    jprichva saidI agree with you, Caslon. But the corporate world being the way it is, what does someone do towards the end of the year (as it is now) and they've used up their sick days and perhaps their vacation/personal days as well?

    Actually, I think it would be to the corporate's world's interest because of the increase in productivity due to the lack of loss work days when one "typhoid mary" comes into the office and makes everyone else sick.

    And I have heard parents that come in deathly ill saying they have to save their sick days for when their kids are sick. Not my problem. That's like someone saying they tell sexist jokes cuz it relieves their tension in the office. No, I dont think so. Their problems arent an excuse to give me problems.

    But I am talking more about taking reasonable precautions at work and not having the prevaling attitude that sick people arent responsible and the well people just have to take their chances.

    I dont think it is too much to ask the hackers and the coughers to use a handkerschief to cover their mouths. Or not to breathe right on another person in close proximity.

    That's just for starters.
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    Oct 29, 2009 2:17 AM GMT
    xrichx saidIt's hard to avoid germs in an office..

    I agree with that and understand. That's part of life. We cant live in a bubble or walk around with a can of lysol in our hands all the time.

    But that is different from someone spewing the plague with every cough right in the proximity of another worker.

    Like in my case with this worker, I didnt say anything when he came to work very sick. And I didnt say anything when he went around sniffing. I can wash my hands,etc. But emptying his lungs right on me is whole 'nother level of irresponsibility and putting me in jeopardy.

    In our office building they have signs up in the restrooms tell us how to wash our hands. And there are little stand-up signs encouraging us to get flu shots. So being concerned about spreading illness in an office isnt a totally wacka-doddle idea.

    Hahahaha .... he came to my desk today for me to show him something on my computer. I realized he was positioning himself to stand over me. hahahaha.....I wheeled my chair away from him in a reactionary flash. He noticed and said "what?" I ignored his question and just pulled the mouse over to me. .....hahahahahaha
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    Oct 29, 2009 3:22 AM GMT
    I think we need to adopt some ideas from the Japanese. If you're sick at work, then wear a mask..

    snap_masks_f.jpg
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    Oct 29, 2009 3:42 AM GMT
    This is exactly what I was talking about in that thread about the guy that admitted to having sex without a condom and know he had aids. By any standard we call the guy spreading his shit (cold, flu, etc... ) around an asshole and say stay the fuck home but why not in that other case? Some people are just asses and don't think. Others I'm sure want to stay home but fear for their jobs especially with this economy.
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    Oct 29, 2009 3:50 AM GMT
    This would be an OHS issue. You shouldn't have to endure sick people infecting you in an office environment. I would go speak to the OHS rep and make them deal with it.
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    Oct 29, 2009 3:53 AM GMT
    Caslon12000 saidWhen I got home that night, I immediately made a fresh glass of juice, ate my broccoli and cauliflower with vinegar, took a vitamin pill with zinc to boaster the immune response.

    But, sure 'nuff, I started to feel the inflammation of my sinuses yesterday.



    I agree that typhoid Mary shouldn't have sneezed in your face or whatever, but you're calling him ignorant/stupid and then the next paragraph you come up with this?

    If you were already infected with a cold/flu virus, eating a field worth of broccoli wouldn't have done anything about it.
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    Oct 29, 2009 4:14 AM GMT
    It is up to you to stay healthy. Cold and flu enter through your eyes, nose, or mouth. Short of a mask you can only control how YOU allow germs to invade your body. Don't touch your face without washing your hands first. Keep saying to yourself "My hands are covered with monkey poo." Should work unless you into that sort of thing.
  • Squarejaw

    Posts: 1035

    Oct 29, 2009 4:15 AM GMT
    Caslon, ya know I love ya, but if he had his cold a few weeks ago, and you felt symptoms come on just one day after he sighed in your face, and then the symptoms went away the day after that...sounds like your whole experience was psychosomatic.
  • josephmovie

    Posts: 533

    Oct 29, 2009 6:32 AM GMT
    I think they should stay home as well, but I think this sort of thing is known as "Living in Society".
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    Oct 29, 2009 8:22 AM GMT
    I’ve been that frustrated also, I don’t thing it is a small matter. Remember the SCARS virus that hit 2002? When I did work in tighter quarters and an office epidemic started, I’d use my sick-days to stay away from work so I would not become ill ~ its legal.

    But a better tip – mega doses of vitamin D. I’ll take 10M IU a day for about a week. You can buy single capsules of 10, 000 IU up to 50,000 IU and it is no bigger than a aspirin – take a jar to work

    here’s a quick reference
    http://www.ivanhoe.com/channels/p_channelstory.cfm?storyid=20840
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    Oct 29, 2009 10:14 AM GMT
    Thanks for posting this, Caslon. I've been thinking the same thing since a co-worker came to work with the flu for a couple of days a few weeks ago. Somebody eventually told her to get her ass home until she felt better.

    Within a week, two of us were sick. Who knows where the colds came from, but I still felt resentful that someone could be such a clueless clod, especially with H1N1 roaming around.

    We have a great benefits package that includes an abundance of sick time, and what's even worse - we all have the flexibility to work from home if we really, really need to get a project done.

    But it really wasn't even about workload for her - some people are such attention whores it seems they'll even use sickness to prove how "important" they are.
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    Oct 29, 2009 12:39 PM GMT
    Daytona saidIt is up to you to stay healthy. Cold and flu enter through your eyes, nose, or mouth. Short of a mask you can only control how YOU allow germs to invade your body. Don't touch your face without washing your hands first. Keep saying to yourself "My hands are covered with monkey poo." Should work unless you into that sort of thing.


    Okay, touche on this one however Its kind of hard to protect yourself when the asshat is coughing, sneezing over or near you. The flu/H1N1/SARS (since someone brought it up) are air borne... hence why people in closed spaces are always at risks of catching that shit. When I lived in the dorms and when people were sick I would leave my window open to air the place out a little and I still caught the damn flu cause some asshat coughed in my face.
  • Timbales

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    Oct 29, 2009 12:43 PM GMT
    I'm just blunt and tell people who are sneezing and coughing to stay the hell away from me. I wash my hands often and try not to touch my face. I keep hand sanitizer on my desk and use that often as well.
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    Oct 29, 2009 1:07 PM GMT
    I agree with repeatedly washing hands and trying not to touch our faces. My friend who is a physician follows this advice, and although he sees patients throughout his day who are sick, he rarely ever is ill. If I go to stores or even a gas station, I try to use those sanitary cloths - it just takes a second. In an office, I would urge sick people to stay home.

    I'm reminded of an embezzler who came to work every single day (healthy or sick) because she needed to cover her tracks and keep total control over her accounts - prior to being found out and sent to jail! For the rest of us - - - don't be a hero - stay home when sick!
  • cowboyathlete

    Posts: 1346

    Oct 29, 2009 2:07 PM GMT
    Caslon has every right to be upset at the person in that scenario. it is sad and partly disgusting that parents will keep sick kids home from school, yet sick adults keep going to work.
  • CAtoFL

    Posts: 834

    Oct 29, 2009 2:27 PM GMT
    Unfortunately, the oblivious ill don't confine themselves to the office. This time of year, they are also likely to sit next to you on your plane home for the holidays (and yeah, you'll get it a week later).

    We've likely all sat next to someone on a plane who spews phlegm like he's a fountain at the Bellagio. I wish the airlines would grow a backbone and deny boarding to those who are obviously sick and who pose a health threat to other passengers.

  • jarhead5536

    Posts: 1348

    Oct 29, 2009 2:38 PM GMT
    The problem here is America's draconian vacation and sick leave policies. We won't stay home when we're sick because we have to preserve our precious few sick days in case something really bad happens. Also, when you are under constant pressure to produce, produce, produce, any time away from work doesn't look good to management that only cares about the bottom line. My own boss, a department director, showed up at work three weeks ago with H1N1 because he wanted to be tough and set a good example to his staff. Bad decision. We are still operating at about 65% strength due to the resulting outbreak here at the newspaper...
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    Oct 29, 2009 2:54 PM GMT
    jarhead5536 saidThe problem here is America's draconian vacation and sick leave policies. We won't stay home when we're sick because we have to preserve our precious few sick days in case something really bad happens. Also, when you are under constant pressure to produce, produce, produce, any time away from work doesn't look good to management that only cares about the bottom line. My own boss, a department director, showed up at work three weeks ago with H1N1 because he wanted to be tough and set a good example to his staff. Bad decision. We are still operating at about 65% strength due to the resulting outbreak here at the newspaper...


    wow what an asshat! Id make him pay for the medical bill. that just sucks man.
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    Oct 29, 2009 3:03 PM GMT


    The whole, 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger' attitude I think is partly behind some of the inconsiderate behaviour.

    Stuff I've heard at work..

    "Well I caught it, what makes you so special?" (in other words, why shouldn't you get it, too.)

    "It's good for your immune system." Thanks but you're not a doctor.

    "You should still come in to work. It's not the company's fault you're sick, so why should they pay?" They'll pay a lot more should 30% book off sick.

    My favourite is people coughing into their hands. Or that turn away and sneeze a 10 ft cloud of vapor into the air.

    -Doug
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    Oct 30, 2009 12:04 AM GMT
    Squarejaw saidCaslon, ya know I love ya, but if he had his cold a few weeks ago, and you felt symptoms come on just one day after he sighed in your face, and then the symptoms went away the day after that...sounds like your whole experience was psychosomatic.

    No, it isnt psychosomatic. The symptoms havent totally gone away as I thought. But I am thankful that my body seems to be really resisting well.

    Even if they were psychosomatic, I dont think anybody would care to have another empty his lungs all over you. It isnt courteous, no matter what.

    But I am gonna stick to my guns, I dont think well people should have to go to work and just hope they dont get sick, while sick people behave with reckless abandon.

    I look forward to seeing your 5 minute video on why the well are all psychosomatics for not wanting to get hacked and coughed on. ....icon_rolleyes.gif

    BTW, I havent heard much about your bf....what was his name? .... Ben? .....How's that working out for you? ... well, I hope.
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    Oct 30, 2009 12:21 AM GMT
    i think that particular co-worker needs to learn some damn boundary lessons. if he did get that close in your personal space i don't think that is okay being sick or not.

    illnesses are spread also when we don't show any symptoms. the office, or any workplace, is crawling with germs anyway. it is a good practice to assume it is and always wash your hands when touching any sort of public surface.

    the cost of living in society is living with other people. everybody has obligations like children or payments. it's life. many people keep going to work when they're sick because they can't afford not to. it's a difficult decision and a problem with that comes up with health care and providing for yourself or others.

    how about an opposing extreme way to look at it? maybe that if you are getting sick, maybe it's your fault you can't keep your immune system strong enough.

    the personal face masks seem like a good idea. i would love to stay home if i was sick but i's got bills. i've had jobs in the past where i DID call in sick, but their attitude was if i was sick enough to be away from work then i needed to be in the hospital and i should have brought a doctor's note, which is stupid..

    i think the problem here was the stupid co-worker shouldn't be in your personal space in the first place.
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    Oct 30, 2009 12:38 AM GMT
    wushu18t saidhow about an opposing extreme way to look at it? maybe that if you are getting sick, maybe it's your fault you can't keep your immune system strong enough.

    I dont know if you mean that as a general "you" or you mean me. If me, then I can say that I eat extremely well and have had no ill in spite of the myriad of hackers and coughers in the office. It was only when I was inoculated at point blank range that have felt any effect.....and then, as I have said, I am please at how well my immune system fending it off.

    But I am still thinking enough is enough with illness trumping wellness in the workplace.
  • Webster666

    Posts: 9217

    Oct 30, 2009 4:53 AM GMT
    In this economy, there are probably hundreds of thousands of people who would be more than happy to work in your place and risk catching a cold from a coworker.

    Perspective.