FUNNY BUSINESS: Being your own boss doesn't save you from idiots

Mike Redmond
November 20, 2006
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

I work at home. Well, I call it work, but really it's just sitting around making fun of things. Which is the same "job" description I used when I "worked" (boy, this is going to date me) at what used to be known as The Daily Newspaper. Nowadays, it's The Manually Delivered User Operated Lifestyle Enhancement Information Platform.

Anyway, the good thing about doing whatever I do at home is that I'm free from the tyrannies of the workplace-meetings, idiot bosses, neckties, idiot bosses, shaving and, of course, idiot bosses.

The problem is, I have to impose tyrannies of my own. It takes discipline to get anything done in an environment where you don't have to shave or change out of your jammies, where there's a refrigerator and a television close at hand, where the dog is always asking for a walk and eBay is always beckoning with new bargains. However, the trade-off is worth it. Especially the idiot-boss tradeoff.

That said, there remain some drawbacks. In fact, I'm right in the middle of one such drawback right now. It's called seasonal flu.

Even as I write, I'm shivering from a fever of about 102. My throat is sore and my head feels like it's full of rubber cement. My joints ache, as if someone came during the night and bent them all the wrong direction, and I'm rattling the windows with gale-force sneezes and a cough that brings to mind a tubercular seal. In short, I am a mess. Poor, poor pitiful me.

When I worked-OK, when I ventured outside the home every day to do something that resulted in a paycheck-I could stay home when I felt like this. Not now. You can't stay home from home. And so, if you're me, you end up going to work, or whatever you call it, despite the fact that you have to lash yourself into your chair to stay upright.

Why? Why not just go to bed? Good question.

For starters, there's guilt. I'm a Hoosier country boy, the product of people who worked like mules every day of their lives, sweating and toiling through blistering heat and bone-numbing cold. These were people who, when they had heart attacks from baling hay in the broiling sun, sat down in the shade a few minutes, drank some iced tea, then finished loading the wagon before heading off to the doctor.

So I already felt guilty for working indoors, in the air-conditioning, with no heavy lifting involved. And this feeling was compounded when I quit my job to free-lance. The result? Guilt now figures larger than ever in my work life. It has become my main motivator, the thing that gets me up and gets me going every day. And guilt, my friends, NEVER takes a sick day.

And then there's the question of economics. It costs money to be sick, and seasonal flu is more than a case of the sniffles when you start looking at what it can cost American business.

A little trolling around on the Internet turned up an estimate of $87 billion for seasonal flu's annual economic burden. That's a lot of Robitussin and chicken soup.

Flu-or what they call "Influenza-Like Illnesses" to take into account all the other epizootics flying around out there-is responsible for an estimated 200 million days of diminished productivity, 100 million days of bed disability, and 75 million days of work absence every year. Lost earnings are in the $16.3 billion neighborhood.

Now, I'm not saying that what I do, or don't do, is going to make much of a difference against those kinds of numbers. As near as I can tell, taking into account all my receivables and payables and amortizations and other business-type words, my missing a day of work costs the national economy about $1.40.

But that figure for diminished productivity intrigues me. I'm told it comes in great measure from presenteeism, also known as "coming to work and making sure to sneeze on everyone around you."

We've all seen it: Flu raging through the cubicle farms, workers flinging germs and viruses around with such abandon that the bosses actually start asking sick employees to PLEASE stay home. The non-idiot bosses, I mean.

Seeing as how I am my own boss, and as how I made myself work today, I guess we know what that makes me. Oops. Excuse me. I'm going back to bed.

Redmond is an author, columnist and speaker, and a consultant on business writing and workplace issues. His column appears monthly. You can reach him at mredmond@ibj.com.

Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. If what you stated is true, then this article is entirely inaccurate. "State sells bonds" is same as "State borrows money". Supposedly the company will "pay for them". But since we are paying the company, we are still paying for this road with borrowed money, even though the state has $2 billion in the bank.

  2. Andrew hit the nail on the head. AMTRAK provides terrible service and that is why the state has found a contractor to improve the service. More trips, on-time performance, better times, cleanliness and adequate or better restrooms. WI-FI and food service will also be provided. Transit from outlying areas will also be provided. I wouldn't take it the way it is but with the above services and marketing of the service,ridership will improve and more folks will explore Indy and may even want to move here.

  3. They could take the property using eminent domain and save money by not paying the church or building a soccer field and a new driveway. Ctrwd has monthly meetings open to all customers of the district. The meetings are listed and if the customers really cared that much they would show. Ctrwd works hard in every way they can to make sure the customer is put first. Overflows damage the surrounding environment and cost a lot of money every year. There have been many upgrades done through the years to help not send flow to Carmel. Even with the upgrades ctrwd cannot always keep up. I understand how a storage tank could be an eye sore, but has anyone thought to look at other lift stations or storage tanks. Most lift stations are right in the middle of neighborhoods. Some close to schools and soccer fields, and some right in back yards, or at least next to a back yard. We all have to work together to come up with a proper solution. The proposed solution by ctrwd is the best one offered so far.

  4. Fox has comments from several people that seem to have some inside information. I would refer to their website. Changed my whole opionion of this story.

  5. This place is great! I'm piggy backing and saying the Cobb salad is great. But the ribs are awesome. $6.49 for ribs and 2 sides?! They're delicious. If you work downtown, head over there.