I’m driving to work this morning with Geeky Boy in tow. He’s feeling better though still running a fever, so the plan was to go into work, clean up the email box, participate in a conference call and then go to the doctor. As I’m about to turn on the street in front of my building, my cell phone rings. It’s the school nurse. Geeky Girl just threw up, so could I come get her. So I turn right instead of left and head toward the school. On the way, I call my boss on her cell phone and explain the situation. She sounds completely sympathetic. I’ve now missed an entire week of work. Two vacation days for my trip to grad school city and now three sick days. If Mr. Geeky were here, I’d be at work right now. I might have even been at work yesterday. All of this time off and Mr. Geeky’s flexibility is only possible because our workplace is flexible. My boss knows nothing is going to blow up if I’m not there and that I will keep in touch via email. Mr. Geeky can come in just for his one class and on Friday’s he has no classes.
Imagine for a moment that you work for a place where your sick days can only be used if you yourself are sick and that you only get 6 of them as opposed to the 3 weeks’ worth I get. What would you do? If you’re lucky you have relatives or friends who can care for your kids. But that’s a luxury many people don’t have. What if missing those days causes you to lose a big account or a chance at a promotion because you miss some good face time with the head honcho? You see where this is headed, right? Many of us are lucky to have semi-flexible situations, fall-back plans, etc. But many of us are not. Who takes on the burden of dealing with sick children or ailing parents? Most of the time, it’s a woman and most of the time doing so costs her something. This will cost me nothing, but it could and that’s why I keep harping on it.