should you call in sick for a cold?

A reader writes:

I’ve always read that you should call in sick if a) you’re too sick to be productive or b) you’re contagious. Does this mean you should call in sick for a cold? That seems extreme to me, but a cold is certainly contagious-especially the first few days, which I usually spend at work waiting to see if I get worse before pulling the trigger on calling in sick.

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Receptionist plays right-wing talk radio
  • What to say when I hear someone has been laid off
  • Can I write recommendation letters on work time?
  • Can I request a one-week notice period instead of two weeks?

{ 272 comments… read them below }

  1. Eillah*

    Receptionist: Tell her her job is dependent on making people feel welcome, and the hate speech/general assholiness from right wing radio shows achieves the opposite of that.

    1. Evan Þ.*

      I recommend not saying that – if she’s the sort of person who likes hearing right-wing talk radio, she’ll probably object to that description. At best, it’ll make her feel more upset; at worst, it’ll sidetrack the conversation into arguing politics.

      Since it’s a simple conversation that doesn’t need to get into politics or arguing about the quality of discourse on the radio shows, at most I’d say, “It’s important that we make people feel welcome in our lobby, and playing political talk radio might make people who disagree feel alienated.”

      1. annony*

        Yeah, don’t get into whether what she is listening to is ok or not in general. That opens the door to arguments, especially if it is implied that other talk radio would be fine. Talk radio in general can be upsetting or annoying if you don’t agree with who is talking. Even the news is not a great choice for a waiting room. At this point it is best to say either music only or no radio at all.

        1. Veronica Mars*

          Precisely this.

          I made a decision for my mental health to stop watching the news and my life is so much calmer since. I hate being thrown right back into the madness while waiting for an oil change or to catch a flight or whatever.

          The issue here is the political nature, not the specific brand of politics. Political discussions of any kind can alienate employees and customers (obviously, some brands of politics are more upsetting than others and right-wing talk radio is one of the worst, but you’re not going to win that fight with her). Just because you might agree with a different talk radio show doesn’t make it any more acceptable for a workplace.

          1. Baja*

            This. Certain health clubs have stopped airing branded cable news channels across the board regardless of political affiliation (CNN to FOX News and everything in between) because it’s just too disruptive.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’d suggest this is a good time to set a policy of non-vocal radio. It solves the immediate problem, and prevents future issues with musical choices from overtly religious to explicit & violent lyrics.

          1. LCH*

            yes, any radio with people talking is going to be weird in a reception area. even music with commercials in between is jarring.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I like that wording.

        I would object to talk radio in an office at any time, frankly; it’s distracting and annoying when I’m trying to work. I don’t even like music to be on unless it’s my music (soundtracks). No TV, nothing.

        I had an interview a couple of years ago where the TV in the waiting area was on Fox News. Luckily, someone had turned the sound off. It made me rethink working there–who insisted it should be on that?

        Just so you know, I will judge you on what you’re playing in your lobby.

    2. Elena vasquez*

      Honestly I’ve heard assholiness and hate speech coming out of left wing sources too.

      If it’s political, just turn it off.

    3. Wing Leader*

      I don’t think that’s totally fair (and I say this as a left-winger). Assholery can be found in many places. I would say just have a blanket policy against politics all together.

      1. Curmudgeon in California*


        Political talk media does not belong in the workplace. Even if I’m watching a political YouTube funny, I use headphones. This in spite of knowing that most of my coworkers are also liberal.

    4. Blurgle*

      How about no extraneous sound of any kind, at any time, in a reception area?

      Background radio of any kind makes it hard for people with hearing deficits to understand what’s being said. Doesn’t matter if it’s music or talk; it’s awful.

  2. Bulbasaur*

    Not sure how #2 is an issue. The radio is company property. Get rid of it. End of story. It only takes one client to hear one off-color remark to damage your entire organization’s reputation. The receptionist’s want/need is irrelevant.

    1. Veronica Mars*

      Well, then she could just bring in her own radio. The radio isn’t the problem, the content is. A “no talk shows” policy is a very reasonable policy.

      And to be honest, this isn’t a right-wing or left-wing or reputation conversation. Its not even an “lets all keep politics out of the office” or “people don’t want to listen to yelling regardless of what its about” conversation. Its a “why are you not following our explicit direction regarding acceptable things to do during work hours?” conversation.

      1. Magenta Sky*

        Assuming that management has said explicitly “this is not acceptable and you are required to alter your behavior ” rather than “Y’know, it’d be nice if . . .” (and that’s a bit of an assumption, based on letters we see here), the real problem is management not following through on the rules.

        The first time, it’s a problem employee. The second time, it’s a problem manager. “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame one me” and all.

        The real issue here is the aversion to “causing problems,” which is misidentifying what’s wrong. If enforcing the rules is a problem, management isn’t *causing* it, it’s already *there*.

        1. EPLawyer*

          That’s the real problem. This is time for a “We have asked you not to play that type of talk radio. We need you to not do that going forward. Can you do that” conversation. If the answer is yes, problem solved. If it is no, you need to consider why your employee is taking such a strong stand on a pretty minor thing and consider letting them go.

          If they continue after then its not about the radio. It’s about an employee that defies instructions.

          While we are at it, does this person really do such a great job? Usually something like this is just a sign of other problems.

          1. Veronica Mars*

            But its not “that type” its “any type” of talk radio.
            “That type” really does raise free-speech hackles unnecessarily. Like, would an eco warriors podcast be acceptable to you? To me the issue is the political nature, regardless of leaning.

            1. Magenta Sky*

              It’s far easier to specify what *is* acceptable that what isn’t.

              Find a Muzak station, and set it to that. Or just get rid of the radio entirely. The replacement receptionist won’t ever notice it’s gone.

            2. PollyQ*

              It may raise a philosophical free-speech hackle, but employers are legally allowed to favor one point of view over another. (insert standard disclaimer about protected class and workplace conditions)

              In this case, “Because I said so” is all the reason they need to have the employee stop doing it.

              1. Veronica Mars*

                Unnecessarily is the key phrase here. Why raise hackles when its really not necessary or conducive to a pleasant working environment?

            3. Fikly*

              There is no free speech at work. Especially at a job that is not a government job.

              Freedom of speech means the government can’t censor your speech.

        2. sacados*

          Right?! I mean, the company or whoever is in charge of managing the receptionist is coming across as kind of … spineless.
          What’s the issue? This receptionist is your employee. There’s no “oh gee, she refuses to listen to me, whatever do I do.” You *tell* her that it’s not acceptable and if she still doesn’t listen, then proceed to enforce consequences!

        3. Veronica Mars*

          True. I’m assuming they haven’t explicitly said it because they mention they asked her to keep the volume down. I don’t think “lower the volume” is an acceptable solution to this problem – its too subjective and not very effective for anyone who needs to actually have a conversation with the receptionist.

      2. Yorick*

        I think “no talk radio” is a great policy. Even if it’s in no way political, it may be weird and off-putting for clients to come in during a talk radio broadcast and have to wait in the lobby while it continues.

        1. Veronica Mars*

          Good point. Even if it was like, “Stuff You Should Know” podcast (which is the ultimate in harmlessness), I would be kind of offput if I walked into the second half of “how subpeonas work” with no context… and then had to sit and listen to it… and then got pulled away just as they were getting to the good part…

          Plus, it sounds like a strong temptation for the receptionist to say “oh hold on a minute, I want to hear the end of this sentence” which is not acceptable customer service.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            Aaaaaa, I hate coming into the middle of talk things (or TV or movies) and leaving before the end!

            (Also, idk, some of the SYSK episodes cover some fairly inappropriate subjects for playing to clients – graphic/disturbing medical detail, crime stuff, orrrr they do have an episode explaining orgasm….)

          2. Richard Hershberger*

            I am a strong advocate of no talk radio or television in waiting rooms. If I am going to be sitting waiting, I bring a book with me. (Actually, I carry a book with me regardless: You never know, after all…) Talk radio or television in the background is simply an annoyance.

            This is true regardless of the content. But going down that road, I am always struck by businesses that have Fox News running constantly. Do they not realize how many customers they are working to alienate? Yet I see this constantly. I totally will favor the business that doesn’t do that.

            It reminds me of how a couple of years ago my barber retired. So I started making the rounds of local barber shops. It is a small enough town that we are talking perhaps a half dozen possibilities, and I assume they all knew my guy had retired. So I would introduce myself as his former customer, looking for a new barber. In other words, I was offering the possibility of a small but steady revenue flow for the indefinite future. The first place I went, the barber chit-chat was complaints about all the Mexican restaurants in town. I am a middle-aged white guy. This was hardly the first time someone assumed I was a racist, and therefore safe to share their racism with. But it seems like an odd opening gambit for a potential long-term business relationship. The haircut was fine, but I didn’t go back there.

            1. Gazebo Slayer*

              One of the reasons background talk bothers me is that it makes reading or conversation hard! For me, at least. I have a lot of trouble dealing with two streams of words.

            2. Everdene*

              I also always carry a book with me and prefer not to have tvs/talk radio in waiting areas. My feelings on this solidified after sitting in a hospital unit waiting room with half a dozen women in medical gowns all trying to block out the obnoxious ‘your husband is my baby’s dad’ confrontational shows. The nurse told us the remote was kept ‘safe’ so we couldn’t even turn down the volume. The opposite of relaxing before a procedure, or important meeting, or networking event or whatever you are waiting for. Give me background music and a book anyday.

              1. Curmudgeon in California*

                Ewwww. Reminds me of the people who have “universal remotes” on their cell phone just so they can shut that kind of thing off.

                Our home cable has a classical music “channel” that is awesome. I wish more offices/businesses had that as their preferred broadcast.

            3. Blueberry*

              Ugh, I hear you and you have all my sympathies. My SO looks like a conservative White man, and often comes home to me distressed because some bigot thought they could bond with him by sharing their bigotry. I feel so bad for him, and for you in that experience; once again, I wish people would behave better.

            4. Elizabeth West*

              I am just sick to death of this assumption that there has to be a TV everywhere. I don’t like it in the doctor’s or dentist’s office, either. In fact, at my last dentist’s office, there was a TV in the lobby and in every single treatment room. I always requested it be turned off when my hygienist was working on me.

              Even if it’s playing something innocuous, I don’t want to sit there and watch stupid commercials.

          3. Yorick*

            Stuff You Should Know is exactly what I was thinking of too! I just don’t want to hear snippets of that while I wait for my meeting.

        2. Kit Kendrick*

          I agree here. I used to have a cubicle neighbor who listened to some kind of religious programming. I don’t know what, precisely, but sermons can have a very distinctive cadence. While it was not content I would have sought out, the actual problem was that having talk that I could almost, but not quite make out was incredibly annoying to me. Just keeping the volume down was no help because as long as I could hear it at all, I had that distracting “someone is talking — try to parse it” instinct going.

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            I have this problem all the time – I find both background talk and background music distracting this way, and it’s really obnoxious at work when someone is trying to play the radio or do some online training “quietly” without putting on headphones. (I can tune out music if it’s a piece I already know, but it’s hard for me to do if it isn’t a specific recording I’m already familiar with. I end up putting on headphones with one of my go-to recordings running when this happens, but then I’m constantly having to take off my headphones when people ask me questions.)

          2. Solana*

            Reminds me of my last vacation. I was staying at a small place in Bali where my room and my neighbor’s was a separate building. A woman was sitting outside her room with her laptop, listening to a ‘fire and brimstone’ sermon. It was so loud that I could clearly hear it in my hotel room with the doors closed. I finally grabbed my iPod and played some music to drown it out. Who wants to listen to that, especially on vacation?

      3. Ms. Ann Thropy*

        Exactly. She can listen to whatever she wants on her own time. The reception area is not hers to dominate. Her boss is the boss of her during work. There needs be no more conversation.

    2. Cookie Captain*

      I think the “why is this still an issue?” is important. If she’s dealing with hearing loss, for example, it won’t change the fact that the volume needs to be lowered or the radio needs to go, but it can be presented in a sympathetic way.

      If, on the other hand, she’s going to get up in arms about being discriminated against because she’s a conservative, the volume still needs to be lowered or the radio needs to go, but the conversation is going to be very different.

      1. Sparrow*

        I assume that would be the “problem” they’re worried about having. But as others are saying, they don’t have to make it about the content at all.

    3. Daisy-dog*

      If Update Season taught me anything, it’s that what’s written in the letter is hardly the whole story. OP #2 either is sensitive given the content because of a previous situation (at work or outside of it) or the receptionist seems like the type that may blow this request out of proportion.

      1. Claire*

        The letter mentions that not only has the volume not been lowered, the radio has actually been getting louder, so that suggests that the receptionist is going to blow the request out of proportion

        1. Parenthetically*

          I agree with this assessment, but that absolutely does not change what OP needs to do, which is to have one last clear conversation in which the parameters and expectations are laid out. “Jane, you’ve been asked repeatedly to keep the radio off or at a low volume. You’ve continued to turn the volume up, and it is disruptive to the office. Because this is clearly continuing to be an issue, from this point on you’ll need to have the radio tuned to a music-only station. Talk radio of any kind can’t be playing. Can you agree to do that going forward?”

          If she flips out and starts shouting about free speech or whatever, she’s perfectly welcome to find new employment.

        2. sacados*

          Yeah it seems like there’s some kind of weird power play going on here.
          Either way though, the employer / manager is the one with all the power here so somebody clearly needs to quit helplessly handwaving and start actually managing this receptionist.

        3. Kate R*

          Oh, I actually read this differently at first thinking that she lowered the radio’s volume, but that it would then get louder and louder throughout the day (which could be innocuous if she was just gradually turning it up each time she had trouble hearing it without realizing how loud it was getting), but upon re-reading, you may be right. Honestly, I’d skip over asking her to keep it low at this point because that’s been done before and low is subjective. I agree with others about instituting a no talk radio or no radio at all policy, and if she throws a fit about it, well then that’s a bigger issue that needs to be addressed.

        4. Courageous cat*

          I guess I’m not following this one: honestly… who cares if she blows it out of proportion? If the LW were writing about their boss, then yes, but it sounds like they’re writing about their employee. They have control over their employee. And she’s not in a position so senior level that she’ll be extraordinarily difficult to replace.

          Just give her the instruction once and for all and handle it accordingly if it doesn’t work.

    4. blackcatlady*

      I also wondered if she has a hearing problem. Not a fan of Muzak but make an office policy of Muzack or nothing. Blanket rule: no politics – either side of the spectrum in the office. As a customer I would do an abrupt about face and take my business some where else if I walked in to Rush babbling away.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        I actually did stop patronizing a business near my last apartment because they played right-wing talk radio. Considering that I live in a famously liberal city, it seems a strange and poor business decision on their part.

          1. Ann Nonymous*

            Same. I will not support any business which supports abhorrent views or politicians. There is a well-known and -liked deli a few hundred feet from my house that I refuse to step into because of the politician its owner supports. When I tell this to other people, they say that they will stop going there as well.

      2. Mimi Me*

        The only talk radio I’d be okay with listening to would be a local news channel (WBZ Boston comes to mind) where it’s local news, weather, and traffic.
        I’m a fan of classical and muzak for offices. They’re pretty un-offensive.

        1. Auntie Social*

          Places with any kind of talk radio in the lobby make me feel that they’re more interested in the radio than they are in the client–me. I also assume (correctly or not) that the front desk person is bored if they’re listening to talk radio. A lot of people find that front desks/lobbies are really isolating and wind up doing a pity party, “I’m out here aloone” thing. You need to be warm and welcoming to clients, but then you also have stretches where you’re on your own.

          1. TardyTardis*

            This is why God invented Candy Crush (but with the sound off). Our outfit gave our receptionist so many other tasks to do, though, that they have trouble answering the phones on time, which everyone saw as counterproductive.

    5. Artemesia*

      It doesn’t matter if it is her radio or the company’s radio. After warning her once and having it ignored, it should have been removed. The same would be true if you didn’t want opera music or country music or rap blaring in your reception area but it is doubly true if it is potentially offensive content. Remove the radio and be done with it; no need for further discussion. If the radio belongs to her, it goes home tonight.

    6. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      While what you say is true, I’d be willing to bet that they haven’t had a real “you can’t listen to talk radio in the office” conversation with her. It was more of a beating around the bush asking nicely type situation. Her manager needs to be direct and tell her that she can’t listen to it anymore, and then provide her with consequences if she insists on continuing, and most importantly follow through with said consequences.

    7. Courageous cat*

      Seriously though. This isn’t something that needs to be tiptoed around or carefully managed. You’re presumably her superior, tell her to stop and if she doesn’t, hold her to the same expectations as you would any job performance issue. This is a non-issue.

  3. Jellyfish*

    I’ve learned that if I call in sick the first day of a cold and spend the day sleeping, the illness is mild and short lived. If I try to power through and go to work, it becomes much more severe and last three or four times longer. Even bosses who look down on sick days have followed my logic when I explain that.

    Unfortunately, not everyone’s body offers the same warning signs, and not everyone’s job or budget allows such flexibility. Given the option though, I’d rather my coworkers stay home early on for everyone’s sake.

    1. Snoop OP*

      Both myself and my coworker are battling colds right now. I decided to come in a little late today so I could get a couple more hours of sleep. I feel okayish, but I felt terrible this morning. I’m glad I took a couple extra hours to rest. I have a feeling my co-worker might leave early. She’s very sniffle-y, whereas I’m more cough-y.

    2. Drew*

      Question 1 was super timely for me because I got a cold on the 31st and was expected back in the office on the 2nd. But after I slept over half of the 1st and still felt awful, I decided to call out for the rest of the week and focus on recovery.

      I’m back today and except for a cough that sounds a LOT worse than it is (a bit of phlegm loosing up in my chest but mostly I just have a large chest so it rumbles) I feel 100% better. That would not have been the case if I had tried to power into work last week.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      I am a sleep-it-off cold person too. I will often come in, and then plot the strategic day to stay home.
      I also incorporate the “gross sound index” as part of the calculations since I’m in an open plan area.
      And, being a woman of a certain age with previous pregnancies and not enough Kegel exercises, if there’s a lot of coughing, I’d better be home where there’s a change of pants.

            1. Curmudgeon in California*

              This is where I wish I had stock in Poise… Having stress-based incontinence is a PITA during a cold. So I wear what I call “granny pads”. Someone told me that about half of women between 40 and 60 have the problem, and 75% of women over 75. So my sympathies.

        1. Ophelia*

          Oh, god, you guys. I (also in the same boat) went to a trampoline park with the last vestiges of a cough over break. It was a situation I should have considered more carefully ahead of time.

    4. SometimesALurker*

      Same! Some of those days, I would be able to power through with caffeine and tissues and be at maybe 70% productivity if I went in to work or tried to work from home, but I know from experience that it’s a very safe bet that spending the first day sleeping as much as possible will be the best outcome for everyone.

    5. MissGirl*

      I have one job where I can work from home and have ample PTO to take off. I have another job that is client based and if you’re not there, they lose money. During our busy times, you call out if your dead and not much else.

      Care to guess which job I was working the last two weeks when I had a sinus infection that would not let up?

      1. Majnoona*

        Colds almost always morph into sinus infections (or worse) for me, so please, stay home. It may be no big deal for you but it could be very bad for those who catch it. If you can’t, please wash your hands a lot and keep as much physical distance as possible.

        1. MissGirl*

          I did what I could, but unfortunately if everyone stayed home who had a cold the company wouldn’t function. Of course, half my clients were sick with something as well. Such is winter.

          1. Ariaflame*

            Sounds like the company is not well organised then. After all anyone could get hit by a bus or something at any point and having no backups or ways of coping with people not being there isn’t great. Also, if the first person stayed home, maybe the rest wouldn’t get sick.

        2. London Calling*

          Ditto. When I have a cold my sinuses come up like golf balls and I have to breathe through my mouth. Not pleasant for anyone.

        3. Zap R.*

          Oh god, same. I also have asthma so colds are generally really awful for me and it is so hard to explain to people why I can’t just drink some hot tea and suck it up.

          1. Yarrow*

            Ugh, me too. This is why I wish my office had a more liberal sick policy. I work in an open office and one of my coworkers always comes in sick and tells me all about her sickness. And her “deathly ill from the flu” (sitting on the couch for 2 days) is my “in the ER because I am literally deathly ill.”

        4. Jdc*

          Same. I was just at the doctor for my 2 month sinus infection and this dad and his child (who was holding a mask but not wearing it) decided to sit right next to me regardless of empty seats and she kept coughing in my direction. You’re little angel may just have a cold but they handed her that mask for a reason. I have been sick two months, let’s not make it worse. I of course moved but point being don’t infect others If you can avoid it.

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            > …but point being don’t infect others If you can avoid it.


            I have a real bugaboo about people coming to work in an open plan office when they’re contagious. Yes, sometimes I go in thinking it’s just allergies and it develops into a cold, but in general I try not to be a disease vector. I have this apparently unreasonable expectation that others make the same attempt. I have gotten very sick, once actual pneumonia, from people coming in sick and not washing their hands, not covering their coughs, and generally being inconsiderate.

            Where I work we are encouraged to work from home (WFH) if we’re sick – 95% of all meetings have a videoconference link available, and most employees are able to not be physically present and still do their jobs. We also have a decent sick leave allowance, so we can take half a day to sleep in if we need to, then WFH the other half for an entire week if we have to.

      2. Anonnnnn*

        But think of it this way: you call sick, that’s one person out of the office. You come in and infect 5 people who then call sick, that’s five people out of the office. I don’t have a great immune system; even a cold can keep me from driving to work.

        1. ceiswyn*

          I caught a bad cold once while I was temping. I couldn’t afford the time off, so I came in regardless and did all my work while bundled up in a huge coat, shivering, and with my nose so stuffed up that my eyes hurt.

          My last day there, the office was a ghost ship and I overheard two people wondering who’d infected everyone. I slipped away quiet-like…

        2. MissGirl*

          Except all those five people are still working. I know it sucks but such is our busy season. No one calls out sick unless you literally can’t stand straight. We work sick; we work injured. And again a third of my clients were also sick. I had one person literally throw up in front of me. We all power through. Such is life outside an office.

          1. Going anon*

            I hate this attitude. I hate it so much. I’m not saying it’s the fault of the worker, but it’s the fault of someone else for whom making money is the only thing.

            Some people have compromised immune systems. Some people get very very sick. Like in the hospital sick.

            I’m sure the barista at the Starbucks who came in with a visible case of the flu came in because she didn’t have sick time or was told she needed to come in or lose her job, but that resulted in multiple doctor visits and complications that I couldn’t afford.

            1. Luke*

              Absenteeism is justifiably an important metric, and sick time is an area of attention. People sadly do abuse it, leading to management scrutiny on its use.

              Unfortunately ,that scrutiny can go too far the other way by discouraging people to not use sick time when necessary.

            2. JD*

              As another person who gets way more inconvenienced by a cold than most people, I do wish more workplaces were more sick-leave-friendly. Especially places like cafes, where the entire job is about interacting with large numbers of people.

              I remember one time I was a canvasser and trying to talk my team lead into letting me go home sick, and he reeaaaaallly didn’t want me to. As it happened I later found out I was anemic, which is not exactly contagious, but what a horrible attitude.

          2. Kat in VA*

            This annoys the crap out of me. There’s no heroism in coming to work so sick you can barely stand – or in making your employees do so.

            All you’re doing is infecting everyone you’re coming into casual contact with – including via surfaces. Clients, coworkers, bosses, and everyone else. You’re literal vectors for infection…and you suck.

            If you’re too sick to think straight, keep your ass home.

            Signed –

            A working mom with a husband and four children who catch garbage at work/school and toss it back and forth like the Illness Baseball From Hell™ for WEEKS ON END. Nearly every instance has been from someone they noted was visibly sick, and then they themselves come down with. Fortunately, I tend to remain relatively unaffiliated when it comes to illness solidarity, which means I get to do double duty of being gone 12 hours a day for work and then tending to sick people when I finally get home.

        3. MissGirl*

          To understand how this isn’t my call. One year the managers were literally handing out DayQuil and shots of Rockstar in our morning huddle to get us through.

          It’s not as though they’d fire you if you called in sick but we are out pay and it goes on our record. It’s hard to explain without going into too much detail but we’re required to get in so many days each year. It’s a physical job and the busy season only lasts a few weeks at a time.

    6. Richard Hershberger*

      This is how my body works, too. I will go into work if there is something truly urgent. Fortunately we are pretty good about avoiding those situations. If there is something that urgent, it probably means we screwed up earlier, and we don’t do that often.

    7. sofar*

      So true. If I stay home that first day or a minor cold and just sleep it off, the company gets the rest of my week as a productive worker instead of a loopy-from-cold-medicine, sniffly one. Employers who require a doctor’s note deserve a special place in hell.

    8. Katniss Evergreen*

      I am exactly this way. I can either start off with “not feeling that bad but I’ll be at home today to sleep/head off the worst of it and telework tomorrow” or “I’m sorry to be calling out for the 4th day in a row after I was there Monday, but I still can’t really talk and it hurts to be conscious”

    9. RedLineInTheSand*

      I’ve been burned too many times by trying to be considerate and stay home when sick. Frankly, I can’t afford to do that right now. Last year in the fall I had to get my gall bladder out on an emergency basis, the year before it was my appendix – also in the fall after I had gone through most of my PTO and I had several weeks unpaid.

      I do work from home 3 days a week, so working those days won’t affect anyone but me, but I’ll be going into the office the other 2 days. My nonprofit should provide more sick time, and in order to continue, you know, having a roof over my head and food to eat, I will need to go in the office when sick.

    10. Anonya*

      Same here. If I don’t rest early on, it becomes a bad cold, which turns into a sinus infection, which lingers forever, and …

      I’m lucky to have ample sick leave, though, and I recognize this isn’t feasible in every situation.

    11. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I’ve found the same as you. The sooner I can take the time off and spend it at home taking care of myself, the better off I am. Plus, those first days before you start sounding sick are the ones where you feel the most wretched!

    12. BasicWitch*

      I usually get over a cold in 1-3 days if I rest fully on the first day or two. My last boss didn’t care for that (or dr appointments, dentist appointments, or approving vacation), despite having several immune-compromised people in the office. So I caved to her expectations, forced myself to work, and did my best to keep my distance from coworkers and coat myself in hand sanitizer. And each cold lasted a week or more. I also developed additional illnesses (ear and sinus infections, bronchitis), and instead of going several months to a year between colds I’d catch another every 6 weeks or so. Last year sucked.

      I wish I knew a better way to navigate it. Obviously health is the most important thing, but in the US at least it’s not so simple. I needed that job and the health insurance that came with it, so I destroyed my health to keep it. Seems pretty backwards.

      I have a new job now, but also a deep anxiety about calling out for any reason. I was sick for two weeks in November and tried to pretend I wasn’t, and I can’t help but wonder if it would’ve been so bad had I just stayed home a day or two.

    13. Vicky Austin*

      Yes, some coldeeze, along with calling in sick and sleeping until noon, has nipped many a cold in the bud for me.

    14. Lx in Canada*

      This is what I do, too! I usually don’t get SUPER sick right away, so I generally have sufficient warning.

      I really prefer my coworkers stay home if they’re sick. I’m always using my sick time for things like migraines, so I’d rather not get sick if I can avoid it.

    15. Elizabeth West*

      Same here. It’s worth it to stay home for one day (or a half-day, if I absolutely have to go in for a little bit and then leave). If I’m miserable, the quality of my work is going to suffer, not to mention my coworkers, who really don’t want my germs.

      In my last office, the magic word was “fever.” If you felt feverish, they wanted you to stay home! But we had fairly generous PTO and I wasn’t the receptionist, so it wasn’t a big deal if I did.

  4. DarthVelma*

    My parents both worked in hospitals and doctors offices. My dad in particular had a lot of patient contact, and I use the same set of rules he used.

    Rule 1 – If I’m running a fever (or have other evidence I’m contagious), I don’t go in. You don’t take your germs to a building full of immune compromised people. (I work in public health – so even though I don’t have direct patient contact, we still need to be setting an example on this kind of thing.)

    Rule 2 – If I can’t stand up long enough to take a shower in the morning without getting woozy, I don’t go in because I’m not safe to drive to work. For my dad, it was only a 5 minute drive. For me it’s about a half hour, so even more opportunity to be a danger on the road to myself or others. You just don’t do that.

    Dad’s rules focused more on the impact trying to get to work would have on other people. And they just always seemed sensible to me.

    1. Automated*

      These are sensible, but sadly a lot of place ding you for being sensible. Culture really matters.

      I also work at a hospital, but here they track sick days so everyone comes in sick and brags about powering through.

    2. LibrarianLady*

      Honestly, I think your Dad’s rules are okay so long as they’re soft and accompanied by some health knowledge. As someone who suffers from chronic sinus infections due to allergies/asthma-related complications (I’m working on this with my ENT specialist), therefore the fever metric doesn’t work for me as a hard rule. My sinus infection (which I have right now due to 10 days of no antihistamines for health testing) gives me a low fever, but I’m not contagious. I have loved ones prone to the same thing, but for different reasons (compromised immune systems, cancer recovery etc.), so I’d just ask that others keep those kinds of circumstances in mind before leaping on a colleague for “spreading disease!” because they aren’t aware of all the reasons someone could have a fever, but not be of concern to anyone else.

      Overall, sensible advice.

      1. Allypopx*

        Yeah you definitely need to know your body. For instance if I have any kind of respiratory illness I’m much more inclined to stay home, especially following a bad asthma attack I had walking up the hill to work this fall after breathing in a bunch of construction dust. I need to feel like I can survive my commute.

        I will push back HARD on anyone who tries to require a doctors note from me for sick days. If I’m not comfortable coming to work/school because I’m contagious, I’m not taking my germs a) on public transit, or even in a lyft and b) to a place where there could very well be immuno-compromised people. It’s gotten me in trouble only once or twice and I’m happy to take those consequences.

        So I think everyone needs to adapt the rules a bit for their circumstances but I do like the idea of having consistent “this is my cut off” rules to try to keep yourself and others healthy.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          This is why I’m glad to have a remote-friendly and trusting employer. We’re told to do what we think is best when we’re sick, and to let our boss know when we’ll be out. Texting or emailing is fine. It definitely helps that most of our leadership is on the same page: If you’re coughing and sneezing all over the place, running a fever, and/or feeling tired and spacey, stay home and rest!

          When I have a sinus infection or bad cold, I know I’ll sap my energy by getting ready for work and driving to the office, and I know people will be nervous around me. Even if I spray Lysol on every metal surface I have to walk around the office at some point, and people are rightly concerned about me spreading germs. On those days, staying in my PJs and working at home makes sense.

          During the holidays I had a bout of flu that kicked my butt for a solid 10 days. Even when I’m sick I’m a morning person, so I was able to put in a few hours a day and then go back to bed. I’m not sure if it’s good or bad that I felt better putting in time at work or not…

    3. CB*

      My mom is a registered nurse and instilled similar rules into me. As an adult, I want to add:

      Rule 3 – If for some reason there is no way to avoid leaving your house, PLEASE do not sneeze into your hands and then proceed to touch rails on public transit or go to the gym.

      I went the gym the Friday before Christmas and was almost done with my workout when a man did a full body sneeze into his hands, shook them off, and continued to touch equipment. That evening, I came down with a gnarly cold that took a solid two weeks to fight off. Cover your germs!

    4. Artemesia*

      The problem is that colds are contagious for many days. The idea that you aren’t contagious after a day or two is a myth. It IS worse the first couple of days, but there is no way most of us can work and also not come to work when we are able but still have something we can spread around. If it is possible to work from home that is ideal and more offices should make that the norm when people are sick if the work can be done that way.

    5. Librarian of SHIELD*

      For colds, my rule is that I’ll stay home if my illness or the medication for it makes me unable to concentrate, or if I’m especially gross. These are subjective measures, but they work for me.

    6. Shellakybooky*

      My general rule is that if it’s your Rule 1, I’ll not go into the office (so I don’t give my germs to anyone else) but I will work from home. The first time I got a cold and went in, there was definitely pushback from a colleague who just didn’t want my germs (in a friendly way).

      If it’s your Rule 2 (though mine is just more nebulously phrased around “not being able to do my job”) I call in actual sick. I’m lucky I have a very flexible job (and boss, who also happens to have a small child who gets sick enough as it is without my help) that I can do that.

      Caveat that I’m in the UK so I don’t have the same limits on my sick leave as US folk.

  5. Clorinda*

    Maybe she’s a little deaf and she thinks that the radio’s volume is lower than it is. You can certainly mandate that the radio has to be on one of three or four approved music channels, at a volume level of no more than X on the dial, and if that doesn’t work out, remove it.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        …while I am collating… the Office Space reference! Thank you for the chuckle. LOL.

    1. Claire*

      According to the LW, the radio has actually been getting louder–even if she is HoH and doesn’t realize how clearly other people can hear the radio, she shouldn’t have responded to, “Please keep the volume of the radio down,” by turning it up.

      1. Clorinda*

        Hearing loss is so insidious. She could have turned it down, said to herself “well that’s totally inaudible,” and nudged the volume up to where it sounds reasonable to her, while everyone else is wondering why it’s so loud. I’d start by assuming flawed awareness rather than malice on her part. That’s why giving her a specific number on the volume dial might work: if she routinely goes over that, then she is consciously flouting the instruction.

        1. sacados*

          That’s definitely true. Overall, I think rather than getting into bogged down in details about the volume, the simpler solution is to either a) remove the radio; or b) make it a music only rule — in which case, it’s less likely to be annoying even if it is up at a slightly higher volume (I’m assuming it’s not blasting)

        2. Herding Butterflies*

          And / or acoustics of your space. I have a private office, and keep the volume on my classical station low, but my computer speakers have to be positioned a certain way or you can still hear my music outside of my office.

          She may have the volume up to compensate for her area without knowing how the sound travels.

          Overall, though, I agree with no talk radio. Or no radio altogether. (At a recent doctor’s appointment, they were playing 70’s soft music and it brought back horrid memories of my childhood evil dentist.)

      2. Artemesia*

        Talk radio should not be on in the reception area. If it is loud enough for her to hear it, it is loud enough for others to hear it. Mandate particular music channels or no radio and be done with it.

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          I totally agree. Here in Chicago, a local AM station fired a host and replaced him with a Local Radio Legend who is more about music than politics. He’s still getting his bearings and isn’t saying anything provocative or talking about politics yet. But to read Facebook and the Twitterverse, you’d think LRL is the next great plague.

          No matter how non-offensive or innocuous the talk show, SOME ONE will have a problem. Reception areas should be talk show-free.

    2. Shadowbelle*

      “Maybe she’s a little deaf ”

      Possibly, but she’s a receptionist. I’d think that deafness would also impact her ability to do her job — talk to people in person or on the phone.

      1. Sorry, didn't hear that.*

        There are plenty of assistive technologies to help with this though. I’m currently working with my state’s AT department for exactly this issue.

        For instance, I’m currently trialing a microphone/headset piece where I wear a receiver around my neck- it’s small & connected to earbuds and then there is a corresponding microphone that is placed right next to the other speaker. I’m awaiting some Airpod pros that connect with an app on my phone through the assistive technology settings on my phone to come in to also trial- the advantage there is it will block out other surrounding sounds whereas the current trial picks up everything around.

        And there are captioning phones available as well. I’m not quite at that point yet but I can see it coming. So, one can have a hearing impairment and still do their jobs in this regard.

        Re: the radio, as someone whose hearing impairment is about tones, pitches, frequencies.. often, talk radio can actually be painful for me. I would much rather have just muzak or even just nothing playing in a waiting room. But I bring earbuds and earplugs called “vibes” with me that dampen but not block sounds when I’m out and about in the world. This pair reduces the decibel levels by 23 or 25.. can’t remember.

        1. Armchair Expert*

          I really think that if this receptionist was so hard of hearing that she was using assistive technologies, the OP would have mentioned that.

    3. JSPA*

      You’re forced to imply either that she’s getting less considerate or deafer, and neither of those conversions go well.

      Oh, you can probably “win” an “either our hearing is getting better or yours is getting worse” argument, but…don’t do that.

      Take the radio. Bring in classical and other instrumental CD’s and a player. Make it clear that this is a stress – reduction initiative, and that other cd’s will have to be cleared with management.

      Some kids’ players used to have low power / low maximum volume. If you can find one, that’s a bonus.

  6. Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves*

    Playing any type of political radio program is inappropriate at work. I used to work with a couple bullies who thought it was hilarious to play pretty extreme radio programs and put it just outside my office door. I had to concentrate for my job and speak to clients on the phone and they would cackle in delight when I shut my door (which was frowned upon by the boss). Boss also refused to deal with that or really any situation and it became torture.
    Toss the radio.

      1. Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves*

        Yup, that place was a dumpster fire. I can’t believe I lasted as long as I did. Boss was shocked when I quit and made up some bizarre reason why I was leaving. I should have known it would be bad when he kept me for 13 hours with one meal for a working interview, but my previous job was somehow even worse and I was desperate. At least no one did anything blatantly illegal at this one.

    1. Richard Hershberger*

      I take the passive-aggressive route. I usually listen to classical music. Playing this loudly has only minimal passive-aggressive value. Most people find it uninteresting, but not actively distasteful. So that is when I break out the mid-20th century avant garde stuff.

      1. Magenta Sky*

        I have a growing collection of banjo music. Very, very good banjo music. And some Mongolian heavy metal. And I’m no longer the only fan of either in this office.

  7. Lert345*

    A cold can take up to 10 days to go away complete.y and you can’t take a week off anytime you get a cold. I tend to stay home the two days I feel the worse.

  8. CMM*

    I really wish more offices encouraged people to stay home, and where applicable work from home at the onset of a cold. It would cut down on spreading germs throughout the office. Especially for those who work in open offices and/or in close proximity of one another. It’s better to stay home than to have a cycle of people sick because everyone’s spreading germs to one another.

    1. irene adler*

      I once worked at a place where they encouraged folks to stay home extra days when they were ill. For exactly the reason you cited.
      So one could take 1-3 days and it would be counted as one absence. But, if you called in sick on day 1, came into work on day 2, then called in sick on day 3, this was counted as two absences.
      You could count on folks always being out for 3 days when they were ill.

      1. anon for now*

        My assistant had that pattern–stay home one day, come in the next, then stay home another day because they were wiped out from coming in after only one day off. I suggested that two consecutive days out might be a better idea because they might recover faster and perhaps be sick less often (they’ve had one cold after another the last few months). They took the two days off, worked from home the second day, and came in on the third day, feeling better.

        I’m not functional at all for at least three days with a bad cold (crappy immune system). I work from home when I can.

        Thankfully my place is understanding.

        1. Hlyssande*

          I was raised with a ‘try and tough it out’ approach to being sick, which lead to the school nurse being angry at me for needing to leave school several days in a row more than once.

          I still struggle with it.

    2. snuggly doob*

      Agreed! I recently had surgery scheduled and was terrified I was going to catch a cold and the surgery would be canceled. Every time I saw an obviously sick person in the kitchen at work, I wanted to yell at them to stay home. I know all work cultures don’t support this, but I really think the germs need to stay home if at all possible.

    3. RedLineInTheSand*

      I’m in an open office. I have called in before and been told that if I can’t come in to the office, I must be too sick to work from home, too. I’m guessing my boss can’t see the difference in getting up, getting a shower, driving in traffic, and being in an open office all day, then driving home and staying in my PJs alone all day while working.

      So, I’ll be going in the office while sick as I can’t afford any unpaid days off this year. Oh, and I regularly work from home 3 days a week, so it’s not about working from home, it’s that my butt is supposed to be in that seat on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and if its not there is a Problem.

      Funny thing, my nonprofit helps people, but employees, TOO BAD

    4. Radio Girl*

      For some people with compromised immune systems, a coworker with a cold is not a good thing.

      Stay home.

  9. Crivens!*

    My rule on calling out for minor illnesses has always been that if I’m so tired I can tell I need a day to sleep, I’ll call out, because that usually means I’ll recover from the illness sooner. Otherwise I’ll try to work from home or come in.

    On #2: Oh lord, PLEASE either remove the radio or start with reprimands. If she’s listening to right-wing radio, it’s likely there are people in your office being directly harmed by hearing that hate speech day in and day out. I myself would feel unsafe if that were a regular part of my work environment.

    1. Blueberry*

      +1000 on both of these. Being pretty much required to listen to right wing radio and Fox News at work definitely didn’t help me at my last job, not least because but not only because of my demographics.

    2. Gazebo Slayer*

      +millions to your second point. In fact, I wonder if a lot of that crap would legally constitute hostile work environment racial, national origin, and gender discrimination (and sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination where those are protected) if it were being played incessantly at work.

    3. Autumnheart*

      Agreed. Right-wing talk radio incites violence and hate against a bunch of ethic and social minorities, and women. The fact that the receptionist is listening to it at all is a problem; the fact that she keeps turning it up louder and louder after being told repeatedly to turn it down is an indication that she wants to make other people uncomfortable with her opinions. Neither the radio nor the attitude is appropriate in a customer-facing position.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Oh yes, she’s clearly trying to preach, provoke, or signal that Your Kind aren’t welcome. I’d fully expect her to throw a fit about freeze peach and put a persecution complex on display if someone dealt with this more firmly.

    4. cncx*

      yes, in my old office i had to listen to extreme right-wing radio and it felt extremely unsafe as many of the topics pertained to a group i am a part of. It’s hate speech, it’s not fair, and i don’t need to know people’s politics at work.

  10. Not Today Satan*

    Obligatory caveat that a lot of employers are stingey about sick days and working from home, so I don’t entirely blame the worker: but it drives me nuts when people come to work sick with a cold. It’s one of the most contagious illnesses so it’s bizarre that people think it’s “weak” or somehow weird to stay home with it. Especially in open offices, it’s so distracting and gross sitting next to someone who’s sniffling, coughing, and blowing their nose all day. And knowing that they’re touching door handles, water coolers, fridge handles, copier buttons, etc. that I need to touch is not pleasant.

    1. Welling*

      I understand you point, but for some people colds can last a few weeks and it really isn’t practical to stay home for that long.

    2. Veronica Mars*

      I’d honestly rather catch a 24 hour stomach flu than a cold. Seriously.
      I’m pretty intense about training for my sport, and a cold can set me back easily 2-4 weeks. Its enough to make or break a competition. Its a huge impact on my life. Plus, colds totally suck. And heaven forbid my husband gets it and I have to listen to man-cold complaints for another 2 weeks…

      I’m not really one to be icked out by bio sounds, and I get that people aren’t contagious the whole time they have a cold. But people who come in all week complaining they are coming down with something and finally take days off when its too late and I’ve caught it… those people are my nemesis.

      I used to get genuinely angry at a cube mate who took pride in “powering through” her sicknesses at work because her work was “too important” to miss. Actually lady, my LIFE is too important to take 2 weeks off recovering from your germs so can you not?

      1. Not Today Satan*

        “I’d honestly rather catch a 24 hour stomach flu than a cold.”

        Same. At least an cute illness is over with quickly. I tend to have colds that last forever. And same about the husband hahaha.

      2. Burned Out Supervisor*

        I used to say that I’d prefer the stomach bug to a cold…until I got norovirus this year. The only good thing about it is you’re over it in about 48-72 hours, but those 2 to 3 days I seriously prayed for death and had to go to the ER twice for fluids.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I just watched a special history series that covered the “Spanish Flu” pandemic. And literally, the fact that people do not even know to quarantine themselves is why so many people ended up dying. [Well and the fact the government didn’t issue a frigging public health warning to stay away because they were busy rallying troops for war, many ended up dying of the damn flu before reaching the battle fields].

      Yeah, you’d think that over 100 years later…we’d know better. Nope. Still need a public safety announcement in tragic storms as well, mind you! And even then, people love to play the “Don’t tell me what to do, I’m fiiiiiiiine, wheeeeeeeeeze.” card.

      I always approach it from a different side when people want to play the “y’all are so weak, staying home with a head cold.” kind of commentary. They’re not staying home because they cannot scale a tall building in a single leap, they’re staying home to protect others. Still a super human, bro, still a super human.

      1. Daniela*

        I wish we could add that last paragraph to our employee handbook, and also post reminders at the beginning of cold and flu season!!

      2. Going anon*

        Thank you.

        #1 harms me. Literally.

        People come into work with their cold or their flu because they’re not “weak” or because they have a inconsiderate employer who thinks it’s weak to call out for anything less than open heart surgery and guess what? I get your cold or their flu and what is two days for them, is weeks for me. It’s infections. It’s additional medical complications (to the person who gave me the cold which delayed a much needed steroid infection by four weeks, thanks!). It’s me getting deathly ill.

        I’m not saying you need to stay home for 2 weeks till all symptoms vanish, but for the love of God stay home for a day or two, especially if you have a fever. Some people are considerate and at least try to not cough in my face or to wipe down surfaces, but most of the cold-sufferers/flu victims show up bragging about how strong they are and I’m just not here for that anymore.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Yes, I’ve seen these shitty viruses do their rounds around the company before. Thankfully in our case, it’s rarely because someone is dragging their half dead inside body to work. It’s because sadly the contagious stage starts a few days before symptoms take place =(

          So as soon as Johnny calls in sick, we’re all like “Dammit…who’s next, it’s never just one of us…”

          But we can control it a lot easier by being understanding of people calling in and keeping their germs away for the first day or two.

        2. Windchime*

          Yes, this. Someone else’s cold is my bronchitis that lasts for weeks. I have asthma, so any cold I catch usually settles in my lungs for 6 to 8 weeks of painful coughing and hacking. It’s miserable. My workplace has a very generous sick leave policy and our boss encourages us to stay home when we are sick (if we feel well enough to work, that’s great but if not, use your sick leave!). I dread this time of year, because it’s just a matter of time until I get sick and then I have several months of chest pain and coughing to look forward to.

      3. Eirene*

        This is exactly why I stayed home on Monday and Tuesday (I work from home on Wednesdays anyway). Not only did I feel awful and had no energy thanks to a particularly vicious cold that’s been bouncing around the office, I would feel even worse if I’d come in and infected anyone else. You never know who has people in their lives with compromised immune systems, which is something I’m acutely aware of thanks to people in my own life who are. I’m fortunate that I work for a company that would much rather have me take a sick day than try to power through.

        Then again, I worked from home when I had the actual flu and that was probably not the best move; I should have taken the PTO. I literally can’t remember anything I did those two weeks because I was so delirious with fever.

  11. Q*

    For #4, this might be my own personal workplace, but our corporate policy says only HR can write professional recommendations. We’re free to write them on a personal level *only*, but I’d look into what HR says about writing recommendations first, then follow Allison’s advice.

    1. Reba*

      These are for graduate school application packages, not other jobs, though. It’s pretty different from something used for employment (which is rare in the US context anyway); it is more like a personal letter.

  12. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    I snorted at #2 because the front desk at my auto place back home does this. My mother once was in the waiting room that has a tv, with a clicker right there so it was obvious that the person in the room had the control over that tv. So she turned it and the front desk person swooped in and promptly put it back to FoxNews even though there was nobody but my mother in the waiting room. My mom being herself just turned it back to whatever she actually wanted to listen to, thankfully the other person decided it wasn’t worth fighting with a customer.

    But that’s the backwoods and we weren’t in the majority political wise. So we laughed and honestly, going elsewhere would just result in paying more and dealing with people who were less moral when it came to necessary verses unnecessary vehicle repair.

    But this has been brought up to her and you have made it clear it’s unacceptable in your office [thank God], so I would just remove the damn radio at this point. Or make a clear list of radio station options that are OK and therefore anything off that list will result in the radio being removed.

    1. SomebodyElse*

      My wish is that all 24 hour TV news be banned in public. I don’t care which way it leans, all of it’s annoying. And the yelling… why do they all yell?

      A hotel I stay at regularly has booths in the lounge/restaurant area that are typically set to 24 hour news. I generally sit there in the evenings to work and/or read. I love it when I get there early, because I can ‘oops’ turn all of the TVs off when I turn mine off (they can all be controlled with one remote).

      I’ve found that if a person sits down to a booth with a turned off TV they won’t bother to turn on (remote is sitting conspicuously in front of them), but if it’s on they won’t turn it off even if they are on the phone or working.

      1. RegBarclay*

        I find that if it’s not a news channel, it’s awful daytime TV, which is also often shouting. The only time I enjoyed waiting room TV was when my dr’s office put on DVDs of the Lucy Show. Even then, though, I’d rather have had quiet.

        1. DJ*

          I wish we could ban TVs from restaurants and waiting rooms/other public areas in general. Most people carry a phone nowadays anyway. I’ve even noticed that several of the gas stations I frequent have screens that start autoplaying when I’m pumping gas, which is even more obnoxious because it basically only plays commercials.

          1. nope*

            This. +million

            1) Waste of energy – especially flat screen tvs
            2) Waste of resources to build and to purchase in the first place
            3) Distracting and rude

      2. Grapey*

        There’s a certain type of person that equates the loudest/most forceful voice in the room to being the smartest/most knowledgeable. That’s why news and infotainment anchors yell – to get these peoples’ attention.

      3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I’m definitely in the minority because I am just not interested in TV of any kind much. I never have been. It’s wierd because the rest of my family definitely puts the TV on the first thing when they come in after work or get up in the morning. All these people complaining about millenials and their smart devices probably have their dang TVs on 24-7. But the yelling is the thing that turns me off. Yelling is not the same as drama. It drives me nuts. I hate going to public places like bars or airports where the TV is constantly on.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          I very much like TV I have deliberately decided to sit and watch, and it’s always specific shows that I have chosen (or shows the people I’m with have chosen which I also want to watch) rather than “meh, whatever’s on,” even in the days before streaming. TV as background has always driven me utterly bonkers.

      4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I’m lucky around here we don’t have a lot of news on tv, it’s usually on sports. I can deal with that, even when I don’t care for whatever sport it is. Since it’s less than offensive to be all “These people are playing a game.”

        I’ll watch grass grow sooner than watch the news. I have the internet for that. Then I get world news as it breaks and not just tailored to very certain ideology “news stories”.

        They had the animal channel on during my last hotel stay, so I ate my breakfast watching bears fishing. This I find relaxing.

        We have a few places that put on Food Network, that also pleases me.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I have found that it is socially acceptable to ask people to change the TV to sports from news or daytime talk shows in a lot of places. Ideally, one should know of a specific game that is on when doing this for versimilitude (“I really want to see how the [specific thing] is going, can you please turn the TV to [specific channel] for me so I can follow the game?”), but with relatives rather than at businesses when I just couldn’t take another minute of repetitive shouty news I’ve sometimes been very vague about what “game” I am looking for (“Can I have the remote? I think that game I’ve been looking forward to is on and I want to see if I can watch it. [Flip through channels, looking for any live sporting event currently airing.] Oh, here it is! I’ve been looking forward to watching this [college basketball game between two schools I’ve never heard of before]!”) as needed.

    2. What's with Today, today?*

      I live in East Texas. Everywhere I go has Fox News on in the waiting area/lobby. Bank, doctor, car service center, everywhere. I’m super liberal, but I guess just used to it, because I never think to say anything. Of course, I’m majorly in the minority, and most people here defend their beliefs because “the Bible says…” and THAT response is pretty much an end all be all here.

  13. WorkIsADarkComedy*

    The talk radio dispute is not just about radio volume. It’s about politics, it’s about a tug of war between a passive-aggressive employee and management that doesn’t feel comfortable flexing its muscle. This is a dynamic that will lead to a deteriorating relationship with the employee (not to mention coworkers and visitors) if it’s not shut down.

    This doesn’t mean you need to be harsh, but you need to be firm, clear, and even handed. And the employee needs to understand that behavior that goes beyond the reasonable bounds you have set will not be tolerated.

    Good luck!

    1. Sara without an H*

      Agreed. My first reaction was “Why is no one managing this woman????” Her program selections are inappropriate, she has been asked to stop, and she keeps on with the behavior. Where’s her manager?

      And it doesn’t really matter what she plays on the radio — it could be NPR, or country-western. Doesn’t matter. It interferes with the environment the company wants to create for clients. This is now a performance issue, and the behavior needs to stop.

  14. Yumnum*

    I worked at the company where everyone showed up with colds and flu, really no matter how sick they were.

    That when I asked them if they were sick, they would often say it was allergies and it wasn’t contagious.

    1. Daisy-dog*

      Curious how you knew it was a cold and not allergies. My symptoms of both are so similar that I often need a few days to tell the difference.

      1. Anonnnnn*

        As someone who lives in allergy county, I can tell by the color of my snot (gross, I know). If it’s clear, I know it’s allergies. But I’m sure it’s different for everyone.

        1. Alice in Wonderland*

          I used to not be able to tell the difference, but having had worsening hayfever since the age of 20, I’m getting better at discerning the two. I live near a park and if the sneezing/sniffling gets worse or my whole body starts to itch when I’m walking to the bus stop, that confirms that it’s ‘just’ allergies and not something contagious. Also, just itchiness in general (nose and/or eyes) for me is an indicator that my sniffling is due to allergies and not a viral infection.

    2. Nonny Maus*

      Retail and Food Service. It’s never “I’m sick” it’s always “Allergies” or similar, because what are sick-days? They don’t exist. Also you don’t call out, because you’re responsible often for finding your own coverage, and god help you if it’s last minute because you were hoping you’d be able to power through. The best you can hope for is going home early, which isn’t always feasible.

      And then if you’re ‘sick’ enough, you need a doctor’s note which is a whole other kettle of fish. Where you’re probably still responsible for finding coverage for your shifts. Never mind not getting paid for it because what is sick-leave and time-off?

      Legally, if you have 5 specific symptoms in food service (Vomiting, Jaundice, Sore Throat, Fever, Diarrhea) you MUST call out, but in practice? Well….

      1. Marny*

        Not to mention, a lot of jobs like this don’t provide health insurance (in the US) so that means paying for a doctor’s visit so you can get a note on top of not getting paid for the hours you couldn’t work.

        1. Nonny Maus*

          The favorite ‘trick’ is if the worker IS full-time, or whatever criteria they’re supposed to give any benefits for? Not have that worker be ‘full time’ by doing oh…30 hours/week if the full-time threshold is 32/week.

          Same for ‘breaks’. One job I had it as a policy that breaks were given for 6 hour shifts, since breaks were legally mandated. Then they schedule you for 5 hrs/30 minutes. Nah, you don’t need a break–you’re not working 6 hours. (And this was a place that was good about making sure we did get breaks…usually. Another place I know of would routinely skip breaks and/or lunches b/c they were too busy.)

          And then they wonder why people burnout/get sick a lot…

      2. Eirene*

        Yep. The only time I’ve ever been fired is because I had the audacity to call out from a prep-cook job when I had norovirus for a solid week. I literally couldn’t stand up straight or do anything for 10 minutes at a time without needing the bathroom for one reason or the other, but that apparently wasn’t a good reason, even with my doctor’s note.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I thought I had a cold, they told me it was a virus. Until it lasted for frigging ever and they were like “oh it’s chronic sinusitis due to untreated allergies…” so there is a huge cross over there.

      If my cold, you judge on sniffles, sinuses are a huge mess like that.

      1. Shadowbelle*

        “I thought I had a cold, they told me it was a virus. ”

        Yebbut … colds are caused by viruses. What distinction were they making?

    4. Elitist Semicolon*

      Perhaps they were in fact suffering from allergies and not the flu or a cold. You, as a co-worker, have no way of knowing whether they are lying, so why not take them at their word? (It would be even better if everyone stopped asking co-workers questions about their health altogether, but perhaps others do not share my opinion. My co-worker who tries to bully me into answering questions about my health certainly does not share it.)

      1. Artemesia*

        Most parents have had to deal with sick kids after the cousins came over with ‘allergies’ — yeah if you are sneezing and hacking all over shared keyboards and door handles, I have an interest in your health which is jeopardizing mine.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          This. I had a coworker who would get sick at my last job and swear up and down she had “allergies” – until her cubemate and the people around her ended up with her same “allergies” days later. They were rightfully pissed, and from that moment forward, we all started spraying Lysol around her wherever she’d go in our small office. My immune system is shot due to medications I take for bowel issues, so if I ended up ill, she was going to hear from me and it wouldn’t have been pleasant because I could have ended up in the hospital. She thought it was funny too when she’d come in sneezing and hacking all over the place, smh.

        2. Elitist Semicolon*

          I agree with you in principle (because whomst among us has not come down with something that looks/otherwise appears to be the exact same thing a gross co-worker had a few days before), but disagree with the idea that the health of any individual in the workplace is a matter about which any other individual is entitled to information. The fact that I am coughing does not give my colleague the right to plant herself in my doorway and demand to know what’s wrong with me, nor is she entitled to an explanation, regardless of whether that explanation is “I just read something hilarious and choked on my own spit” or “I have lung scarring from a bout of pneumonia 25 years ago and now every time I’ve recovered from a cold I get a mechanical, non-pathogenic cough due to nerve irritation.” In my tiny world (population: 1), gently saying, “Oh dear; would you be more comfortable at home?” is okay; demanding to know whether someone is sick and/or the specifics thereof is not. Though I realize that others may continue to disagree with that.

  15. Admin of Sys*

    I completely get coming in with a cold because of company culture or lack of sick time or a thousand other reasons, but none of those things prohibit you from getting and wearing a face mask so you don’t get your coworkers sick. They’re like $5 for a pack of 20 at cvs. Wear them and keep your germs from spreading as much as possible.

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      And wash your hands a lot! We all touch our faces way more than we realize, and face-to-hand-to-object is probably the most common way colds get spread. Wash your hands when YOU are sick, and wash your hands when others are sick. (And it should take more than 2 seconds and there should be soap if at all possible.)

    2. Donkey Hotey*

      Yes wearing one helps AND be sure to change them regularly.
      The average mask is effective for about two hours, so bring some spares.

    3. Automated*

      Honestly o wosh this were more acceptable in the us. The few times I have dome that I got so much side eye and commentary I don’t do that anymore either.

    4. RedLineInTheSand*

      I haven’t thought of that. Don’t know if I could actually go through with it, but I’d love to wear one and when I get the side eye, just shrug and say that boss said I couldn’t work from home (even though I do so 3 days per week and there is no reason it couldn’t be 5 days/week).

    5. Gazebo Slayer*

      A face mask really wouldn’t go over well in a customer-facing position, which is what a lot of the “no sick leave” jobs are.

  16. Daisy-dog*

    #5 – I’ve been there. A couple times actually and I still did the 2 weeks and it wasn’t that bad. After just giving notice, I felt an immense weight lifted off my shoulders and was able to cruise through that time (with one exception).

    But if you’re in a role that can be wrapped up sooner, then you can ask. Depending on your state laws & company policy, it could mean that you would forfeit payout of your accrued vacation time. There may be other company policy issues involved as well.

  17. Hiring Mgr*

    At a former job, someone suggested we have a “sick bay”.. basically a conference room where all the sick people who came to work could all sit together so they could still work with nobody else catching anything.

    It was appropriately shot down

  18. Amber Rose*

    A cold doesn’t have to be AS contagious if people do their best to mitigate: take drugs to reduce sneezing and coughing, wash hands, use sanitizer, avoid touching as many things as possible.

    Lots of things in the world are contagious. Warts. Pink Eye. Flu. You live in a world full of germs, you just do the best you can to not get or spread as much of them as possible.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I’ve seen too many co-workers not wash their hands after using the bathroom, or leave a giant mess in the kitchen. So while in theory you should be able to rely on adults to avoid spreading germs, most people just don’t give a crap. The only thing you can do is take care of yourself – wash your own hands more often, stay away from the sick people as much as possible, etc.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Oh, I know. I just meant for anyone feeling bad about having to go to work while sick. You can do things to make it less awful for those around you.

      2. Jennifer Thneed*

        When I started my current commute (pubtrans used by zillions of people, involving stairs with handrails that I use for safety) I also started a habit of washing my hands thoroughly as soon as I come home, sometimes before I even take off my backpack. So that gets me at least one 20-second handwashing each day. Now that I’m raising kittens and scooping 2 catboxes at least twice a day each, that’s at least 2 more thorough hand-washes.

    2. Maria Lopez*

      You know what they say about a cold- if you take medicines you’ll get better in seven days and if you take nothing you’ll get better in a week.
      Seriously, though, the wet coughing is important because you are coughing up phlegm, and not coughing allows it to sit and sometimes go into pneumonia. I haven’t really found any medicine to really reduce sneezing.
      Just wash your hands, wipe off door knobs and handles and don’t touch the toilet handle with your bare hands if you don’t have automatic flushing toilets.

  19. Anonymous Teapotter*

    Ugh. My supervisor always makes nasty comments when any of my coworkers or myself come in with anything more than sniffles. Things like holding a folder in front of her face and saying in a mocking tone “Don’t come near me! Keep your germs to yourself!” The nature of the work I do requires me to be in the office, so working from home is impossible. My desk isn’t close to anyone else’s so it’s easy for me to just keep to myself when sick.

    Last week I was battling a sinus infection and I still came in to work. The first thing out of my supervisor’s mouth each morning was “How’s your cold?” Not because she genuinely cared about how I was doing, but because she wants to berate me about how I should have stayed home. Maybe if SOMEONE hadn’t approved vacation for the entire rest of the office and I wasn’t trying to juggle three people’s important jobs I wouldn’t feel so much pressure that Things Have To Get Done.

    /End rant.

    1. sofar*

      Ah yes, the sick-shamers.

      I’m the kind of person who gets sick and then has a slight cough for the next couple weeks/month. It’s not feasible to take two weeks off. I make a point to stay home at the beginning of the cold/when I am contagious and then try to work from home a day or two after that. But eventually I have to come back to the office. And it never fails; there’s always someone who hears me cough and is like, “OMG you are sick how DARE you???”

    2. Burned Out Supervisor*

      Ugh, my brother in law is like this. He treated you like a typhoid mary if you came to Christmas Dinner with a sniffle (and would guilt trip you too, as my parent-in-law are in their 70’s), yet saw no issue with him coming to Easter Dinner with a fever. Ugh.

      I got some horrible type of bronchitis one year and powered through it, but just told my team to email me or IM me questions. Also, I kept hand sanitizer at the front of my desk. No one caught it from me.

    3. J.B.*

      My bosses did that to me when I had a baby who was sick all the time in day care, and picked up some things myself. Well MAYBE if you had given me some maternity leave instead of taking all my sick time, I would have some sick time to use! Ever thought of that?

      1. Anonymous Teapotter*

        Oh wow, that is so much worse than my situation. I’m so sorry to hear you had to use your sick time as maternity leave.

  20. MelonHelen*

    Ah, how timely #1 is for me, as I am on the tail end of a heavy cold I came down with on the evening of Dec 26. I took the 26th and 27th off for a nice extended Christmas weekend, and wound up stuck in bed. So of course by the time Monday the 30th rolled around, I went in, as I’d been out for nearly a week.

    Despite my cold meds and hand sanitizer, I was absolutely disgusting. I TRIED not to be. I was sniffing and horking and blowing my nose probably every 2 minutes. We sit in an open cube farm with low walls. I was kind of mortified. At the end of the day, a coworker kindly suggested I might stay home the next day. We are accountants, and the next day was month end, so I scoffed at that.

    That same day, my husband came down with flu. (The fever kind, not the stomach kind). So on Tuesday morning while I was getting ready for work, when I suddenly began sweating and feeling chills at the same time (which were symptoms my H had), I did wind up calling out in case it was going to get worse.

    I thankfully did NOT get flu, but that day, New Year’s Eve, I wound up sleeping for 16 hours. So in the last ten days or so I’ve had this cold, that was my worst. Thankfully last Thursday and Friday I was much less disgusting.

    And my company says if you call out the day before or after a holiday, you will not get paid for it. Sometimes, you just really are that sick. Fortunately they believed me and I am getting paid, and I’m almost better now.

    1. Burned Out Supervisor*

      If you can take it, I really suggest Sudophed (the real kind that they make meth with). It completely dries you out so you’re not a snotty mess.

    2. J.B.*

      Oh I got congested right before my last day of exams. Fun. I was a miserable mess but really didn’t have a choice. Glad you’re feeling better now, and that you got paid for that day to recover!

  21. AnonEMoose*

    OP 2 – if it makes your decision any easier, if I were to walk into a business and heard right-wing talk radio at the reception desk, I might very well turn around and walk back out again, and find another provider of whatever I needed (assuming I had that choice). And I definitely would feel less comfortable dealing with anyone at that business if I didn’t have another option.

    1. Not All*

      I just did that last weekend. Walked into [big national discount flooring chain] ready to finalize my order for over $9k of flooring. They had rabidly right-wing religious radio station on. I looked around & saw that one of the people on duty was the store manager (so clearly not just one bad apple employee) and walked back out. It has definitely set back my flooring project trying to pick an alternate product/supplier but there is absolutely no way I’m giving them money. Of course, the flip side is that I’m sortof glad that it was on loud enough for me to hear so I knew that it wasn’t a business I should be patronizing no matter how good the sale!

  22. Rob aka Mediancat*

    As far as colds go, I can work from home and I find it a lot less stressful to work from home during a cold, and still be productive, than I would to have to go to the office — and I’m usually a fairly good judge of how productive I can be. Sitting at home, in comfy clothes, able to cough or blow my nose without having to worry about muting the volume for my coworkers? I can do that about six times out of ten.

    — if I got two hours of sleep the previous night because of the cold, then I’ll take off because I’m not going to be productive either way. But this way I can save my PTO for those days, or when I feel even worse.

  23. so many resumes, so little time*

    I have had coworkers go through cancer treatment and it’s hard on them when people come in when sick. Yes, I know you’re contagious before you have symptoms, but once you know you’re contagious, be aware that coworkers may be immuno-compromised. Not everyone reveals this at work, of course, but if you know, it’s good to behave responsibly when you can.

  24. yala*

    In regards to the receptionist, I would honestly say take it out altogether. I can’t imagine a volume low enough for right wing talk radio. For those of us who’ve been exposed to it…well, I can’t speak for others, but I don’t even have to actually hear WHAT the pundits are saying. Just hearing their voices, even at a low volume where I can’t make out what they’re saying, is enough to rachet up my anxiety.

    1. yala*

      Also, if they’re the receptionist area, just any radio would be annoying. I have a difficult time focusing on what people are saying and what I’m trying to say if there’s something other than background music playing. Talk radio always sounds very LISTEN TO ME, and it makes it hard for me to have a conversation, even if it’s as simple as trying to tell someone my info and why I’m there.

    2. Sara without an H*

      This. I’m fine with any kind of instrumental music as background, but the human voice always distracts me.

  25. That'll happen*

    I woke up on New Year’s day knowing I was starting a cold but I didn’t call out Thursday because if you call out sick the day after a holiday you may not get paid for the holiday (silly, I know). I woke up on Friday feeling awful and called out. I stayed home all weekend, resting and getting my fluids in and taking some cold medicine. Today I am still a little stuffy but I feel so much better. There’s no way I would’ve been able to get any work done on Friday anyway. My mind was just not there.

    Compare this to when I had a cold in November and I pushed through on a day that I really shouldn’t have come in and then stayed home the next day. That illness lingered for weeks. I feel that taking Friday and the weekend to rest means I will recover much more quickly.

  26. nnn*

    For #2, if you want to keep politics or free speech or whatever completely out of it, the rule could be “no talk radio where other people can hear it” on the grounds that people find listening to speech disruptive to their work.

    I know that if I’m trying to do my job and I hear people or radio talking in the background, I start transcribing what they’re staying rather than typing what I’m supposed to be working on.

    1. Maria Lopez*

      If it’s their own radio then they should be required to wear an ear bud, period. The radio is distracting and for the millions of persons with mild hearing loss it is just enough noise to keep them from hearing the intercom or even one-on-one interactions.

  27. nnn*

    As an aside, I love whatever Inc. did with their font or layout or whatever – it’s much easier for my post-concussion brain to read now! I actually thought I had one of my font readability extensions turned on when it first loaded, and was delighted to discover that this is the natural state of the hpage.

  28. Stephanie*

    Usually, I try to work from home if I feel the sniffles coming on. I got bronchitis last year from a cold that mutated into something unholy and don’t want to repeat that if I can. But I get not everyone has that much flexibility (I haven’t at past jobs).

  29. Sally Forth*

    #1 It’s okay to ask those around you. I once worked with a director who was in a wheelchair and had compromised lung function. The org was very good at allowing us ways to work from home if we were “a little bit sick” because they didn’t want him in the hospital.

  30. Amethystmoon*

    #2 I’m assuming she can’t wear headphones? If headphones are not allowed for her role, then she absolutely shouldn’t be able to listen to things that would bother others working near her, or offend clients. I would say the same for loud/annoying music. If the radio is company property, you should have no problem getting rid of it. Just don’t make it a double-standard that someone who’s not the receptionist can listen to talk radio without headphones.

    1. Ariaflame*

      There are some that don’t block ears (bone conduction) but if she’s in a people-facing role she should be giving them her undivided attention when talking to them.

  31. LadyByTheLake*

    #1 I also learned that even if you MUST come in with a bad cold, it is pretty useless. I once came in with a bad cold because I had an important deal that had to close that day. I worked my butt off, then went home and slept for about 24 hours. When I came back into work the day after that I realized how many mistakes I’d made — it took nearly a week to fix everything because I was too tired and sick on the day that I had come in. In hindsight it would have been better to delay for a couple days than spend a week trying to undo all of the errors that I’d made when I was too sick to be handling a complex transaction.

  32. Waiting to be Future Endeavored*

    I follow my children’s school rule of 24 hours fever free before going in. Which doesn’t necessarily apply to a cold. I’m not able to work from home but stayed home an extra day, following this rule, when I was recently sick. Back at work I learned a nearby coworker has a compromised immune system, so I was particularly glad I stayed out and didn’t “tough it out.” If you can, take the leave. And employers, offer the leave! It helps everyone.

  33. Seeking Second Childhood*

    For LW3 — A nice thing to do for a good co-worker is to reply to their email with your home email address and/or linkedin information. They may be too professional to write to you at their old office.
    HOWEVER — that’s assuming you did not have problems working with your laid-off co-worker. If the person writing you was the department’s missing stair and you’re doing the cha-cha to see them go, just be be blandly polite from your work email and feel free to not notice any requests for outside contact information.

  34. Coffee Cup*

    I am genuinely confused about the cold thing… for me that is *the* sickness you call in for… more serious things would involve doctor’s visits and notes etc. anyway. I really feel like I am missing something.

  35. TexasTeacher*

    You have to be careful with the music stations, too. I remember a few years ago, my daughter was getting a haircut at Big Chain Haircut Place. I wasn’t paying attention to the pop music playing, but all of a sudden I hear my little girl say in her voice-that-carries-well, “Did he just say mother……?” She didn’t euphemize it either. Everyone stopped cutting hair and looked at her. A few minutes later, someone changed the station. It was funny.
    *I don’t think the singer/rapper said the actual word, but something very close, so it was clear what the artist meant.
    As to the situation in letter 2, yes, have her turn it off. This is what Muzak is for.

    1. Borne*

      I noticed someone mentioned only allowing instrumental music, i.e. no risk of offensive lyrics.

    2. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      I was at this pizza place on 14th Street in NYC – it was a chain, I don’t remember which one except that it wasn’t Domino’s or Pizza Hut – and they had the music blasting extremely loud. It was playing rap, and I tried to tune it out as best as I could but I couldn’t help but notice one line of the – well, I hesitate to call it a “song,” but I couldn’t help but notice one line of whatever was playing was “I hate my baby mama,” repeated a number of times.

  36. Pretzelgirl*

    For the cold… for me it depends on the severity, length and how much sick time I have used. One winter I had a string of nasty colds. I was pretty sick, but seriously couldn’t take anymore time off. I didn’t have a fever, but was pretty miserable. It was a bad winter.

    Now I have a little bit better of an immune system, and better sick time. If I have the sniffles and my work load allows I will stay home.

  37. Ms Fieryworth*

    Late to this today.

    Please be aware that what to you is a little cold may be a big issue for someone with a compromised immune system, asthma, or other health complication such as undergoing chemo.

    1. Dr Wizard, PhD*

      *waves hand*

      Asthmatic with allergies here. Even a mild cold for another person will easily knock me out for two to three days.

  38. Argh!*

    As someone with compromised lungs & a lower immune response than others, I hate it when people come to work with a cold. They get sick for 2-3 days and laugh it off, and I wind up with bronchitis that lasts for a month or more.

  39. Miranda Priestly’s Assistant*

    Definitely assess risk depending on your job, but I am a living example of someone who used to not take any days off for “just a cold” and that cold would 100% of the time develop into something worse, like a sinus infection or hacking cough. A lot of this was due to working in service jobs in college, where taking a single shift off was like subbing against God. It was like my body was punishing me for not treating it well. Resting for a single day can save you from weeks of suffering, let me tell you.

      1. Nonny Maus*

        Service-industry fist-bump. And people think it’s so easy to just ‘take off’ or call out. It’s really not, even w/o that internal pressure.

  40. scmill*

    Retired now, but the older I got, the more I was a witch about people coming around me with colds/flu and was quick to tell them not to touch my things and to get out of my cubicle if they were sniffling and coughing. Fortunately, I was able to WFH the last 10 years or so before retirement, and as a result, much healthier not being in immersed in germs.

  41. Janet*

    The TV in my doctor’s reception area used to be tuned in to Fox News. Someone must have complained, because now it is set on HGTV. That’s better, but, if it were me, I would play Netflix Moving Art.

    1. Maria Lopez*

      Or the Animal Channel. I sometimes sat in the vet’s waiting room after I dropped my dogs off for grooming because I wanted to finish watching a program.

  42. CheerfulPM*

    #3 – One thing that really helped me is that if you’re willing to act as a reference for the laid off party, tell them! Even if I didn’t use a few of the people who offered, this gesture was a huge morale boost during a difficult time.

  43. YouwantmetodoWHAT?!*

    #2 You would absolutely lose my business if I walked in to that. Because by not shutting it down, you are saying that you/the bosses/the company agrees with the rhetoric. I’ve been a receptionist, and the music choice was always from the higher ups.

  44. Greta*

    I am unable to take Sudafed, Dayquil, or any other cold medicine stronger than Tylenol because I’m on meds for ADHD and depression, so whenever I get a cold, I’m too sick to work. I’ve learned the hard way that “suck it up, go in anyway, and act like you’re not sick and you won’t feel sick” does NOT work for me.

    1. Maria Lopez*

      I’ve found that a warm wet towel wrapped around the face, or inhaling steam helps, as does NOT lying down to sleep. Sleep inclined and the snot can drain and you won’t be so congested.

  45. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

    It’s not just the right-wing content, much as I would dislike that. I used to go to a specialist who *always* overbooked his appointments, meaning I spent about an hour and a half in his waiting room, listening to Lehman Brothers collapse in real time. I just wanted to read my book.

    I also don’t want to have to listen to a couple of strangers yell at each other about the local football team, and “local news” channels seem to use up their content and start repeating before the receptionist calls my name. If you can’t deal with a quiet room, put together a musical playlist, anything from Bach to bagpipes.

  46. MissDisplaced*

    The best thing is to WFH as you feel the cold coming on (which I believe is actually when you’re the most contagious). Usually 2-3 days in you may feel ok enough to go in. But that’s me. I tend to feel the worst on the upside of colds because thats when the sore throat/aches/fever happens.

  47. Enginear*

    If I have a cold where it’s going to hinder my production that day then I’m calling in sick (assuming I have sick days available still). I’ll see how I’m feeling the night of or when I wake up the next day to determine if I can give it a go.

  48. Pobody’s Nerfect*

    Op#1: The thing is, for a lot of people, a cold often isn’t “just” a cold. People who have suppressed immune systems can be at great risk even from “just” a cold virus. For me, a cold always turns into bronchitis, ear infections, tonsillitis, strep…every single time. It’s never just a cold. So I’m a huge proponent of staying home if your coughing or sneezing with even just a cold. Why expose others on purpose and spread the misery?

  49. not my real name*

    Please stay home if you are sick if you possibly can. My kids are grown now, but I had a job once where they expected you to come in sick. I had a co worker who called in sick, but the boss said he had to come in anyway. Turns out he had strep throat. He worked about half a day before he went home. He almost passed out and his wife had to come and get him and take him to the doctor. A little history, I was hospitalized with rheumatic fever when I was kid, and about 5 months later, I had scarlet fever so I have to be very cautious about strep. Well, of course I got strep which caused me to miss 4 days work. I then passed it on to one kid, who passed it on to the other one, which meant I had to stay home for another week and a half to take care of them. We had decent health insurance, but co pays and Rx add up quickly. Then my husband got it. He had a crappy job where if you didn’t work, you didn’t get paid. We lost a week’s wages, plus we had about $500 in medical costs all because my crappy boss insisted my co worker come in while sick.
    After all that happened, I ran out of (plural expletives deleted), and my work attitude changed so much that I was called into my bosses office because he wanted to know why. I was very professional about it. It was a family owned business and his feelings were hurt. (actual quote) He was taken aback when I told him that I did care about his business as it was my lively hood and then I told him that he and his business weren’t going to be there when I grow old and need help going up and down the stairs, but my family would be; therefore in the future my family would come first. He did not like my response but he did respect it, although it did not change his attitude about people coming in sick. It took a bad case of flu that he took home to his infant daughter who almost died in the hospital. That happened after I noped out of there. I am so very grateful she survived. I was told that after that episode, he was adamant that people stay home.

  50. sheworkshardforthemoney*

    Take away the talk radio and leave the radio on classical or instrumental music. I went for a job interview and hardcore sexually explicit rap music was being played loudly in the reception area. If they didn’t care that the public might be offended then I hate to think of how they treated employees.

  51. cncx*

    in my office, everyone has a laptop and vpn and company cell phone and we are allowed to be adults about wfh and yet people still come in playing martyrs sick. one person who wfh literally all the time came in sick last year, horking and sniffling and i was like “you stay home for everything else and you chose today to come in”… makes me rage. whatever that person had i caught, too

  52. Jennifer Juniper*

    OP4: I’m surprised Alison didn’t tell you to start job-searching. Get your resume out. Update it. Search for a new job.
    Good luck.

  53. Heffalump*

    This is timely. As I write this, I’m on my 3rd consecutive workday (5th calendar day) out with a cold. There’s definitely an ethic at my workplace that if you’re sick, you shoulsn’t come in and infect your coworkers.

  54. cheeky*

    It pisses me off when people come to work sick with a cold because, inevitably, it goes around the office. Please stay home. PLEASE.

  55. G*

    I also can’t stand sick coworkers. Or sick people at church….like really, you HAVE to bring your virus with you on a Sunday morning? For me, a simple cold usually turns into something much worse, like a systemic rash that requires steroids to control. Who has time or energy for that? I also have an immunocompromised family member…we would rather not deal with your virus. The problem comes with employers who reward perfect attendance. I had a manager once who gave incentives for not calling out sick, and this was in an outpatient health clinic.

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