The Job Slut: Sick Daze, Not Sick Days

For the last week, I’ve been sick. My illness started out subtly — I felt like I’d mistakenly eaten a peanut butter and razor blade sandwich for lunch. The sore throat quickly evolved into an achy body. Then the achy body started producing mass amounts of mucus resembling the green ooze responsible for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Meanwhile, the work kept rolling in. I got assigned two stories, in addition to the one I’m currently working on. A new Hunch infographic came out. Someone passed me two other quick projects. It was a really productive week, except for the fact that I could barely do anything.

In A League of Their Own, Tom Hanks says, “There’s no crying in baseball.” I’m not sure if that’s the case, but I do know this: There are no sick days in freelancing. If you take a few days off to get well, you don’t make any money. Declining an opportunity when you’re under the weather might mean never getting any other gigs from that source. So I blew my nose (a lot), and I sucked it up. I don’t mean literally, except yeah, I kinda do.

I’m not sure what the point of this post is. Some of that has to do with the fact that I’m on medication. And while I don’t want to deter anyone from freelancing, I do want to point out what there are a few great things about having a full-time job. Paid sick days and insurance are two of them.

I could’ve handled my illness differently and decided to devote my time to getting well. But I was working under deadlines agreed to before my immune system got pwned. I only mentioned that I was sick to the people I work with in-person. They’re the only ones at risk of catching whatever it is I have. Besides, many job monogamists imagine working from home is always a little like playing hooky — you dress like a schlump and lie around. Which was true last week. But I was also sneezing, coughing, and excreting impressive amounts of mucus.

Illness had become my full-time employer.

I examined my schedule to figure out what I could and couldn’t put off and stayed cooped up in my little germ factory, leaving only to get more Kleenex and drop off my laundry. Of course I thought back to the sick days of yore when I didn’t check my email for an entire day and had someone to cover for me. Even better, I had insurance.

That’s my biggest shame as a freelancer: I’ve been negligent about getting my own insurance. I’m pretty healthy and don’t need any prescriptions to survive. My dentist’s office has a private plan for routine cleanings and exams that’s less expensive that freelancer’s insurance. Any other treatment I’d get as a one-off, like an appointment with a chiropractor or a visit to a walk-in care facility isn’t a big deal to pay out of pocket.

Well, it hasn’t been yet.

I vow to figure out this insurance situation once I feel better. If that ever happens.

Fellow job sluts: Do you have insurance? How do you handle your healthcare needs?

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    • Jay Rowsey

      I love your job slut posts and I hope that you start feeling better soon. Its been going around Ohio as well.