Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mental health day or, don't cry for me Argentina.

I have to say that I was personally disappointed when South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's AWOL excursion turned out to be an affaire d'coeur.

I was really hoping this was a case of I just can't stand this for one nano-second more.

Come on. Who hasn't hopped in the car, headed for work, and thought, I could just take off.

Having commuted north from Boston for many a year, there were plenty of times when I was hurtling up Route 93, heading for work where I knew I was going to have to deal with political intrigue, personnel psycho-drama, management by fire-drill, and fellow employees who were too damned self-centered to clean the remnants of their exploding lunch out of the microwave - when I just wanted to drive on through to Canada. For a few miles or so, I'd think, well, I could pull off the highway at some mall in N.H. and buy a toothbrush and some underwear. Then I'll be good to go for a couple of days in some rundown border town motel, glutting down Tim Horton donuts, and staring at the TV screen while considering career options.

And there were plenty of business trips when I'd think, it wouldn't be half bad to come down with a no-fly flu and have to spend a couple of days in this swank hotel, eating room service club sandwiches and reading People. (This thought never occurred when I was staying in a Grade B motel outside of Topeka, in a west-facing room in the middle of winter with nothing between me and the wind coming off the Rockies other than that flimsy, un-weather-stripped door. Only when I was in, say, a Ritz.)

Of course, I never acted on these impulses.

In fact, when I worked full time, I wasn't much of a one for taking a sick day, let alone a mental health day.

I am someone who has been blessed with spectacularly good health. When I worked full time, I may have averaged one sick day a year. Maybe.

I did take one mental health day.

When I worked at Wang, there was one day when, if Doctor Wang had showed up at my door and ordered me into my car at gunpoint, I could just not face the day there.

I called in sick.

And, guilt ridden, once-a-Catholic that I am, I proceeded to make myself sick, and spent the day languishing in bed. (It still beat work in that particular place, at that particular time.)

But call in I did. As I did the other times I needed to take the day off: the time I threw my back out and couldn't straighten up; the day I needed off for the breast biopsy; the day I hacked up some yuck from my lungs that was the consistency of a chicken bone.

Call in is what you do if you need to take some time off.

Pretty much the most ticked off a manager ever gets is when someone who's sick, or has a sick kid, or just needs a break, stays home without letting you know.

As a manager, to me, pretty much the only excuse for not calling in would be something so catastrophic that it would probably make the news. That or something so traumatic - spouse in cardiac arrest, child suddenly hospitalized - that it trumps all else.

Other than that...

Given the 24/7, gossip driven media, the news about Mark Sanford's affair - as personal and none-of-our-damned-business as it is - was bound to come out.

But what makes it so public (and ridiculous) is the disappearing act, and the faux 'he's hiking the Appalachian Mountain trail' story, when he was off with his girlfriend in Argentina.

Even the Governor of South Carolina is entitled to some personal time off, and it sure sounded like he needed a few mental health days.

So why not just call in sick? Or in dire need of a day off? Have your press secretary put out the story that you're taking a little downtime for personal reasons. Give your Lt. Governor the head's up that, if someone fires on Ft. Sumter, he's in charge.

Obviously, this guy wasn't thinking straight, and is under some supreme, self-inflicted, stress.

The philandering politician is certainly no big news. But aren't any of these guys capable of having a discreet affair - even one that gets exposed - without making them look like colossal jerks?


NancyB said...

Maybe he wanted to get caught. Maybe he wanted a way out of political life and did not have the courage to do it...mabye he was just stupid.

valerie said...

I remember one day years ago, I'd spent a great three day weekend in a waterfront cottage at Virginia beach. My heart was so heavy when it came time to pack. My heart was heavy because I didn't want to leave and lying is just not an option for me. So, I called in "tan" and that worked just fine.

Rick said...

Yesterday I was reading the news about Gov. Sanford's affair, and cursing to myself yet another lying, sleazy, hypocritical politician, when a news item scrolled by on my Bloomberg that shows there is indeed justice in this world, concerning some other politician, reported here by the Times (London):