ill young girl with fever drinking cup of warm tea

Dear Ms. Meniscus:

I work in retail and my manager has made it very clear that we are not allowed to use sick days. I’m paid a small hourly wage plus commission. I hate the idea of infecting my customers, but it’s not the kind of place where there is a lot of repeat business, so I’m not confronted with sick returning customers who will make me feel guilty. I need the money and if we take a sick day we are not paid. Should I come in or stay home?

Sneezin On Everyone

Dear Sneezin:

I completely understand. Should you care about public health or personal finances? I’d like to say come to work sick and make sure you lick your manager’s fork just before lunch, then sneeze on her just to make sure the germs/virus get planted in her sinuses. But it’s probably not your manager who made the rules and there is zero chance of you licking the Wallace Grande Baroque sterling silver fork the owner of your retail outlet chain uses while looking out over the slopes of Aspen during the winter when you’re humping to sell another tank top.retail store

You need to go to work, sick or not because being broke doesn’t make you healthy, but being sick won’t make you broke. So take a few meds that work for you and soldier on. If you have a persistent cough, see a doc. If you’re still feeling guilty about working through a cold, think of the customers who come hacking their way into the store and infect but don’t buy.

For readers who work in more supportive environments, stay home when you are sick. Your personal financial health is not at risk, but your coworker’s health is. Don’t be that person with the trash can full of used tissues that make the custodial staff glad they wear latex gloves.

Wherever you work, for future immunity, you might want to talk to your doctor about probiotics. There are some interesting studies that show regular use of probiotics can help increase resistance to viruses and bacterial infections that are often the source of colds.