The waters close over you

I have been poorly. Not stricken with the plague, not even afflicted with swine flu, but nonetheless knocked down by a virus which i’m only now getting the better of. Thursday and Friday i was off work and languished* on my bed. Saturday and Sunday i don’t work anyhow and by the latter i was definitely up to pootling. In any case, i’d run out of cat food; so i had no choice but rejoin the living.

And today, Monday, i went back to work.

It’s a curious thing, being off sick. You always tend to imagine – alright, make that, i always tend to imagine – that people are wondering where you are or suspecting you of skiving. Hence our tendency to return just before we are better; so that we still have some symptoms to wave at our (imaginary) critics. No-one can argue with a cough.

The truth, of course, is that by and large no-one even notices you’re not around. If they do happen to look up and observe your empty desk, they assume you’re: at a meeting / on a course, or have taken a day’s leave.

Stay off even longer and eventually they forget you’re even supposed to be there. I know this only too well as this happened with a colleague just recently. She was unexpectedly forced to take leave and initially – she’s our administrator so people do notice when she’s absent – there was concern and speculation about how long she’d be gone.

A week passed. People became re-absorbed in their lives and their deadlines.

Another week passed. A temp took over most of her duties.

When she finally returned we realised we’d forgotten she was away. In the words of a friend: “It’s like the waters close over you.” Everyone enthused at her return and – make no mistake: she’s a nice person and a good worker; we were all enthused at her return. Yet hidden inside the welcome was guilt.

Of course, i hadn’t been off nearly long enough for people to forget about me. But i do wonder how long it would take. Not nearly as long as the colleague i’ve just mentioned, that’s for sure.

* I did manage to blog, even while languishing however. The wonders of an iPhone combined with an urge to witter!