Torches and Pitchforks

I called in sick… again. I actually didn’t call; I sent a text to my boss and my assistant. This won’t affect their work. I manage my own schedule; the odd day off now and then impacts no one. My job is a silo. What I do is critical for the company, but I don’t need to interact with any other employees to do it. I could just as easily work the midnight shift.

Because my schedule is unimportant, I know everyone is happy I’m not at work. I sound disgusting. Coughing and snuffling, snorting and hocking—I’m a phlegmy dude right now. I keep expecting to look up from my computer to find my coworkers armed with torches and pitchforks, ready to run me out of the building.

It started two full weeks ago, on Black Friday, a vacation day for me. A nagging post-nasal-drip cough and a headache plagued me all day. Saturday too, but Sunday, I felt fine. I spun out for a nice bike ride on a cold but sunny day. I live on the edge of the Gettysburg Military Park—miles of one-way roads lightly traveled except for a couple of weekends over the summer. It’s a relaxing place to ride. I recently shook up my riding course. For sixteen years, I rode a lollypop—an out and back with a big loop in the middle. Riding back home on the lollypop stem, I always rode against the flow of traffic.

One afternoon in early this fall, riding back home, a cop on the side of the road flagged me down. I’ve thought many times about why she might have been there, and the only reason I can come up with is to bust me. “This road is one way.”

“Right. I’ve talked with several park rangers in the past. They always say bikes can ride both ways.”

“We’ve changed our minds.” I got off with a stern warning and have followed the rules ever since.

To complete my revised (legal) loop on Sunday, I needed to climb up a short, steep grassy hill to get back on the roadway. I’ve ridden this hill a hundred times over the years—on my mountain bike, a road bike, my fixed gear, even on a beach cruiser—every time it’s challenging, but I always ride to the top. On that Sunday after my brief two-day cold, spinning my granny-gear on my mountain bike, I couldn’t make it. My legs were dead. I got off and walked.

I’ve worn a groove in the couch. Every evening after work, all weekend, for two full days out sick last week and now again today, I sit in my family room, coughing, spewing my germs, my droplets, far and wide. I’ve been tested for Covid twice. Today I started a Z-Pak antibiotic course.

On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Susan and I went hiking with Sophie. When we picked her up at college, Sophie was at the tail-end of a cold. All of her symptoms had passed except her persistent cough. Our short hike on a thirty-degree afternoon didn’t require much water. We only brought one bottle to share. At the start of the hike, I remember thinking “Hmmm, I hope I don’t catch that cold.”

Our Thanksgiving party was eleven people with Susan’s parents and her brother’s family visiting from Amherst. Every single one of us caught this cold. Susan and Eli each missed a day of work and school, and at least two people in Amherst stayed home a couple of days. I think I set the group record with three. Today I don’t feel exceptionally sick, I just sound like I might die. I’ve taken to calling this the Maxicrom variant.

That Z-Pak better kick in tonight. I can’t take another day of lying around the house. I’m bored, I miss exercise. Eli looks at me with fear whenever I start hacking. My tasks at work are piling up, and it will take me days to dig out. I’ve spent the past two years looking over my shoulder for the coronavirus, but I’ve been taken down by the common cold. Fourteen days should be my sick quota for the year. If any more illness comes along, I think I’ll file a formal complaint.

16 thoughts on “Torches and Pitchforks

  1. The most difficult thing to do when we are sick is to accept it and allow ourselves to rest. Instead we think of the dozen things that must be done and get frustrated, particularly if we are active and busy people normally. Relax Jeff, let the sickness run it’s course and carry the crap out of your body. Pull the covers up and release yourself to then process, it will be over far quicker if your body doesn’t have to fight you as well as the disease. Get well soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is hard to slow down. I’m really proud of how seriously I’ve taken it for the past two week. In my experience, I usually would get better in a few days, not a few weeks. I just sick of it though. It kills me that I’m entering another weekend needing to baby myself. This time of the year I take advantage of the light to run and ride. I’ll keep riding the couch and resting. The last thing I want is a relapse. .

      Liked by 1 person

  2. 😂😂 taken down by the common cold🤦🏼‍♀️ It figures, doesn’t it. Younger daughter was sick for a week with a cold. Thank goodness she finally got her COVID shots (2 months ago🙄) so I didn’t immediately freak out.

    Us old folks don’t bounce back like we used to.🤪

    I hope you’re back on your bike soon🤞


  3. Declan was down and out for a week too. His tests came back negative but nobody wanted to be around that coughy/sneezy mess. He doesn’t think about containment either. If he has to sneeze, the sneeze is everywhere. After he coughs, then he thinks to cover his mouth. It’s a wonder more of us didn’t catch that thing. Hope you feel better and are back on track sooner rather than later.


    • Declan and I should hang out together. I came into work today but I’m still coughing and snuffing a lot. S days into my antibiotics and I’m not seeing much improvement. Blah. Another weekend shot. It’s supposed to be around 70 tomorrow. I’ll feel better just in time for a polar vortex.


  4. Hope you get better soon. We always ride down a one way street here like a two way street. It’s allowed over here I think. May be you should investigate to see if there is such a rule? Your cop sounds like a party pooper.


    • My impression is the national park can institute what ever rules they like. A new superintendent started last year and stated right off the bat that the purpose of the park isn’t to exercise. He shut down a 5k and a half marathon that had been running for years (the 5k for 30 years). I’m mostly better now, with some lingering unpleasant sounds and a mild headache,

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s