Last year many of you will recall that I reported on the customary gift-giving ritual my wife and I have regarding our anniversary. We normally use the occasion to buy something together for the house. Last year was a bit different. We both bought individual items, albeit still items “for the house.” She bought me a Mustang Convertible (for the garage) while I bought her a ceramic cat (for the living room). Some of the more intolerant among you suggested that I got the better part of that deal and that this year I should give her a much bigger gift. So, this year, for our 25th, I did.
This year I gave her Covid.
Admittedly that is not a great gift, but you cannot argue that it isn't big, much bigger than just a ceramic cat. In fact, I also gave her a canceled 10-day vacation, all crammed into a 24-hour drive to nowhere. I bet most of you couldn't top that.
And if you're smart you wouldn't want to.
Last week my nephew graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law. We were supposed to go to Maryland for that event, and a family reunion at a large country house rented for the occasion. My wife and I planned a driving trip with stops in Savannah and Raleigh on the way up, and a meandering drive down the Blueridge Parkway in the convertible on the way back. When I awoke last Monday, the day we were scheduled to depart, I felt as though I had a mild head cold. My throat was sore, and I had slight head congestion. Even though I was sure it was just a cold, out of an abundance of caution I tried to set up a Covid test at a local drug store that morning before we left. Unfortunately, no appointments were available until the afternoon, so I set an appointment at a Savannah Walgreen's for later in the day.
The test results only took an hour or so. I was positive for Covid. So, Tuesday, our actual 25th anniversary, was spent canceling the remainder of our plans and driving the 6 hours back home.
Once home, we did try to isolate as much as possible from each other, but the damage had been done. My wife started showing symptoms within a day or two of arriving back home. She developed a cough with some related congestion.
The good news, if there is good news in this story, is that for a pandemic-causing disease that shut down the world our instances were extremely light. I've had colds that were far worse than this, and the illness passed quickly for me. My wife's biggest problem is that sleep has been harder to come by since the cough is worse when she lies down. Still, we are very fortunate overall.
In fact, in pre-Covid days this event would have barely registered, and we likely would have proceeded with our trip. And that probably represents the biggest shift in societal thinking in our post-pandemic world (assuming we ever actually get to a post-pandemic world).
Prior to the advent of Covid-19, many people had a tendency to push through or even ignore, mild colds and other illnesses. Employers often openly discouraged the taking of sick days, preferring their “under the weather employees” still report to work to minimize any disruptions. Those days, it would appear, are over. Today, an employee only need report a case of the sniffles and no one wants to see them anywhere near work. When they tell you they “have a bug,” the thought of Covid is never far behind. It has been a fundamental shift in attitudes around illness. Whether or not that change withstands the test of time remains to be seen.
But from a workplace, and workers' compensation perspective, it is one of the positive things that the pandemic has left us with.
But for now, our 25th wedding anniversary will be forever remembered as the Covid Anniversary. My wife has been concerned that, as my travel started returning to pre-pandemic levels, something like this might occur. While I have no idea how I contracted it, I had attended a large conference in Orlando several days before this came about. Nevertheless, life must go on, and we cannot hide in the shadows forever. And I am sure she will eventually forgive me.
Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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