Unemployment vs. sick day, the home edition

(courtesy of http://www.gottabemobile.com)

Please take me to the hospital if I ever cough up something blue. (courtesy of http://www.gottabemobile.com)

Unemployed people get unlimited, unpaid sick days, in case you’re considering unemployment as a career move. But I haven’t taken a sick day in forever. Sick days were a rarity for me even when employed. I’m generally a healthy guy. And laying about seems like such a waste when things need to get done. (Hear that, potential employers? Norm goes the extra mile to get the job done. He’s on sale now, just in time for the holidays.) The catch is that, with or without a job, things always need to get done.

Wifey will sometimes go to the office when she really should stay home and rest. This week is a good example. On Monday, for maybe the first time since I’ve been unemployed, she took a sick day. Being a trooper, she went in Tuesday, infecting her whole company with more than the Christmas spirit. Wednesday she managed half a day. And Thursday she stayed home again. These weren’t sick-of-work days – personal repayment for late hours or a job well done. She never takes those either. They were honest-to-God sick days, because she was actually sick. I saved the used tissues and empty jello containers to prove it.

Having her around during the week was a treat, even in her phlegmy state. I spend most days home alone, idly staring out the window watching the world go by and wondering, “why not me?” I occasionally shed a single tear. Wifey usually leaves for work just after 9:00 a.m. and gets back well after 7:00 p.m. In that time, the cats are the only people I talk to. And the conversations – stimulating though they are – tend to be one-sided. After a year of days, what do an unemployed guy and two furry barf machines really have to talk about? “Meow” can only mean so many things.

Having wifey around also threw off my whole unemployment work routine. I usually sit at the dining room table, back to the TV, working on my laptop. Keep in mind that I live in NYC, where the dining room and the TV room are, in fact, the same room. My water bottle is to my right; my cell phone is to my left. Roughly half the day is spent looking for work, whatever the specific task happens to be. The rest of the time is spent working on Jobless and Less or trying to learn something new and exciting. For the record, detours to The Superficial qualify as learning… learning about people more ridiculous than the rest of us. Notice that none of my time is spent watching TV; that bit of info will come into play shortly. I take full advantage of the stereo. That means a healthy dose of artists that wifey is way over – Pet Shop Boys, The Clientele, Mark Eitzel and so forth.

Wifey likes to put on her pajamas, wrap up in a blanket and watch mindless TV when sick. She sets the volume just shy of stadium concert levels, and keeps tissues and remote control within arm’s reach. Daytime TV has surpassed mindlessness to achieve total unwatchability. So Netflix provided her distraction. First up was “Southland Tales,” a dystopian tale staring The Rock and many other actors who should really know better. I then joined her for the darkly amusing “Sunshine Cleaning.” She continued on to season 1 of “The Tudors,” which teaches us that everyone in 16th Century England was beautiful and had sex all the time. Who knew history was so interesting?

When not joining in, I tried and failed to block out everything with loud music on the iPod. It wasn’t a sick day for me. And, like always, there was work to be done. But gunshots and moaning, not to mention wifey’s super whooping cough of death, have a way of breaking my concentration. Headphones block out the world on the subway or in the office, but not so much at home.

Weekdays feel more like weekends with wifey around. So I tend to slack off a bit. I can’t blow her off entirely, we’re married. And she’s way more fun than CareerBuilder anyway, even in her weakened state. Nor can I, in good conscience, blame a sick person for my poor productivity. What kind of monster do you take me for? I probably made her sick day feel more like work. But I didn’t get done what I’d hoped to.

There’s always tomorrow to catch up on my unemployment stuff. And the next day, and the next day, and the next day. I might have something going on the day after that though. I’ll have to check my calendar.

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  1. Tina wrote:

    And the next day, and the next day…! I personally got “great” news today. My COBRA payment, which had jumped from $707/month to $1023/month (more then I pay monthly for my mortgage) was corrected. I received the letter today. Starting January it will only be $803/month. Merry Christmas to all, each and every one of us.

    Monday, December 21, 2009 at 8:15 pm | Permalink
  2. Tina wrote:

    FYI, COBRA benefits have been extended.
    Cobra Benefits Expanded http://bit.ly/52AZ1a

    This just saved me! No way I could afford the full amount and my mortgage. Hope to get a new job before this extension expires. We’ve had two surgeries to pay for this year and without insurance I’d be filing bankruptcy.

    I tried to post on the forum but ran into an issue during registration.

    Tuesday, December 22, 2009 at 10:16 am | Permalink