When I started my job as a Costume Shop Manager, it was with no real background in theater. By “no real” I mean, none whatsoever. You know how it is when you start a job; the first year feels like you are just following a coworker around learning how things are done. Then, as you warm to it, maybe you start putting your signature on things, consolidating your power base, etc. My job involves some power struggle because I am newer and because if you have more than two people in a room, there’s generally going to be a struggle at some point–it’s human nature.
You often are told that something is “the way it is” that actually isn’t that way at all. It’s just the culture up until you arrived. I’ve been at this job for three and half years and I have never taken a sick day or a day of leave because I was told that a) we don’t take leave during the semester, and b) we have enough flexibility that you can be home sick without having to formally take leave. After all, we work a lot of hours during certain parts of the semester that we aren’t getting paid for. Which is not necessarily true, since we are salaried, but it is also true that working a 60+ hour week sucks and I’m not going to stay at work unless I have something to do.
If you are an HR administrator, the hair on the back of your neck just stood up, right? We’ve got a streak of maverick in how we do things, and a natural Us/Them mentality. It’s just how things are in my workplace. It’s how things have always been. There’s also the pull of the title of BEST or Martyr. “I’ve NEVER had a sick day.” or “I’ve never taken a day of leave.” This is seductive because who doesn’t want to be a hero? It’s just like those kids in school who had the “Perfect Attendance” awards. Is that really realistic? How often did they come to school sick in the name of attendance? It creates a contest where there needn’t be one, but I am competitive and sometimes have to ask myself just why I’m even playing the game. Sometimes it’s better to let someone else win.
Even though I feel entirely justified in taking a Friday and a Monday off, putting that request in writing to my boss made me feel really nervous, even though I know he has no issue with it whatsoever. I’ll be rocking the boat, and bowing out of the contest. But, also, I’ll be putting my health above my job, and as unpopular as that may be, this past year has reminded me that my health is not something that will just run in the background. I need to tend to it, and also take opportunities when they present themselves. Especially if it means getting a weekend in Santa Fe.