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One’s first impression of me, if that one is only looking at me, is not going to be screaming “unconventional”.  My appearance is basic middle aged Midwestern male, lower middle class father who is still transitioning to bald, a bit of a gut — real average.  My guess is that most people think I do pretty much everything by the book, as any reasonably intelligent male of my social standing does.

For the most part that is true.  For the most part it is true, but not always.

The way I called in sick to work today might be one example of that not always.  This morning was one of those mornings where I woke up early with what can only be described as a stress induced whopper of a headache.  They happen, are bound to happen considering the stress of fatherhood and trying to stay financially afloat in today’s economy.  A dull pain filled my head in a foggy halo even before I opened my eyes to the bark bark bark of my morning alarm (I love that alarm).  Today was supposed to be a ride my bike to work day, as the rest of the week needs to be by necessity of a weak checking account balance, and the ache in my head as I struggled out of bed told me that riding was not going to be a realistic option.  We also were out of the only pain reliever that works for my headaches, a few generic ibuprofen were all I could find.  I popped three, downed a slug of Pepto, then returned to bed hoping that the pain would be dulled to a manageable roar an hour later.  One problem — the zoo called my family was stirring and the panic filled hour of school prep did not allow for rest.  An hour later there was no relief.  To top it off, once my wife discovered I was still in bed, her incessant questions just made the ache worse.  So I got out of bed, took a shower, shoved off for work with about 20 minutes left.  Maybe coffee would help.

It didn’t help.

So I sat in the coffee shop, wondering what to do.  It’s Tuesday, not a good day to take off of work for any reason simply because it will be a mad house at work tomorrow if I miss today.  My eyes were not focusing well, the woozy halo of the headache still affecting my vision.  It usually does.  I could go to work, hope that I would recover in an hour or so like I occasionally do, or I could go back home and rest.  Since much of the headache is likely stress related — I made a mortgage payment by phone last night to stave off the foreclosure hounds for a few more weeks — I knew that going to work was not likely going to help my head.  Neither was going home.  What to do?

I drove to work.  Sat in my car outside the building for a minute while mulling over what to do.  I went in.  The time clock said 8:31, which meant I was 31 minutes late.  Really it was best to just take the sick day.  I sat in the company cafeteria for a few minutes, finished my coffee.

Go to work.  Don’t clock in.  See what needs to be taken care of right away.  Do it.  Go home.

So I did just that.  I went to my desk, logged in to my computer, looked at email.  I kept quiet.  There WERE a few issues that needed my attention immediately.  I took care of them, communicated with the people who needed to be communicated with, made sure my boss was copied so that he could take care of any further issues today should they come up.

I felt a bit of the stress leave.  Strangely enough going to work and knowing what was there for me helped my state of mind.

My boss wasn’t at his desk, didn’t even know I had come in.  He must have been in a meeting.  So it felt real strange calling him from the phone at my desk for the purpose of calling in sick.  That can’t happen very often!

The house is quiet.  The headache persists and I need to quit looking at a computer screen — because everything is starting to swim.

Maybe I am not too unconventional, I guess I just do things my own way.