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Still Fighting That Bastard Cold

Last week I wrote that I feared I as was coming down with a cold the day before my vacation was to begin. Fortunately, while we were on Cape Cod the symptoms never got worse…but they never got better, either. And now that I’ve been back for two days, I think the symptoms are slightly worse. On the plus side, my vacation wasn’t ruined because of it. On the downside, this damn thing is taking it’s sweet old time in getting started – making me fear that it will last a long, long time. Maybe it’s mono…I could use another vacation.

In somewhat related news, I read in the Boston Globe today that the U.S. lags behind all other industrialized nations (and even some less developed nations like Botswana and El Salvador) in giving time off for being sick or for caring for a sick family member. I guess that should come as no surprise since I’ve read in the past that we are also far behind in the number of vacation days we give our employees.

As somebody who worked full-time in retail to put myself through college (and part time in restaurants during high school to earn money to pay for college) I know first hand what it’s like to not get any paid time off. It was exhausting. It affected my grades. It added another layer of stress to my life that I didn’t need. And, as an adult at my first few jobs where taking sick time was strongly discouraged, it made me go to work sick –  where I spread my cold and/or flu to my fellow co-workers (or they spread their viruses to me – getting me sick in the first place).

The same goes for vacation time. Working 40+ hour weeks and then getting only 5 vacation days your first year is ridiculous*. Even at my last job we were given 10 vacation days, but the company did eveything it could legally to discourage you from using them (making sure your workload was so great that you’d rather not go on vacatoin for fear of the backlog upon your return, etc…). I was so mentally exhausted and overwhelmed.

No wonder almost everybody I know is in therapy nowadays…and no wonder Prozac and Paxil are familiar words to most Americans.


*Fortunately, Harvard has one of the best benefits packages I’ve seen anywhere in the country. In your first year you get 15 vacation days, 12 sick days, 3 personal days, 11.5 holidays, and a week off between Christmas and New Years. Even better, you can carry forward unused vacation and sick time to the following year.


  1. Comment by Doug on June 17, 2004 11:01 am

    Karl – Are you sure you dont have allergies? My sister is suffering all your symptoms, and it is definitely allergies…

  2. Comment by Erica on June 17, 2004 3:16 pm

    Lovely pictures!

  3. Comment by matt on June 17, 2004 8:10 pm

    I suspect this is allergy related. I wonder to what you are allergic. Hmmmm… Harvard rocks when it comes to benefits.

  4. Comment by David on June 18, 2004 10:18 am

    Yes! I agree with matt and doug.
    Email your symptoms.
    I’ll do some over the counter recomendations!!

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