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Absent Arnold keeps problems at home

By JOHN LORSON Columnist Published: February 25, 2017 5:00 AM
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As evidenced by an almost ridiculous amount of accumulated, unused sick leave, I don't go down easily and I don't go down often. Unfortunately, when I do go down, I seem to hit the deck pretty hard. That's where I found myself at the end of last weekend.

All had been well as I moved through Saturday into Sunday despite having spent time in close proximity to family, friends and co-workers who all had been variously stricken in the weeks before. Grandma Bishop used to say, "A January thaw fills the cemetery." And even though the illnesses all around me had proven decidedly nonfatal, I understood her point. On-again, off-again weather -- going from bone-chilling cold to unseasonably warm and back again -- seems to be a recipe for viral disaster. Even if the physical stress of it all doesn't knock you down, the heartbreak of watching the thermometer rise to 60 degrees only to see it plummet into dwindling single digits the following day is enough to make darn near anyone sick.

Saturday had been a blue-bird day with sunshine and temperatures in the mid 50s. Kristin and I had mashed out a couple of good hours on our tandem bike, and even through the night it remained darn near balmy. By Sunday afternoon, however, the wind had done a 180 and the ship's bell wind chime by my back door signaled the imminent return of winter.

As I hastened to fill the wood rack, splitting, hauling and stacking, a strange and almost instantaneous wave of fatigue overtook me. I carried one last armful of logs through the door, dropped them in the basket by the hearth and slumped into my recliner. I remained there (but for an occasional sprint to the restroom) for the next 48 hours. No work. No play. No food. Not even a good book with which to bide my time. I was laid out like a marinating rib roast -- heat lamp on, heat lamp off -- with no need for basting as I swam in my own sweat. I'm fully convinced that ginger ale saved my life.

As reluctant as I had been to end my years-long streak of perfect attendance, I was infinitely grateful I had done so once I returned to the office to find the rest of the crew either absent or rapidly headed that way. By staying away, I had absolved myself of any suspicion of dragging the whole place down by showing up in the throes of contagion. Better "Absent Arnold" for a day than "Typhoid Johnny" for the rest of my life.

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