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Calling in Sick

This winter was a sick one for me. Between battles with strep throat, sinus infections and downright icky colds, it seems I haven’t gone one week without feeling crummy. And it’s been a sick one for others in the office, too. Almost everyone’s been out with one thing or another – and if it’s not they who are sick, it’s the kids. I don’t know why this winter’s been so sick.

It could be Michigan’s random weather patterns of warm, spring-like days in the middle of January followed by weeks of freezing rain and snow. It could be my aversion to germs has not allowed me to “make friends with them” (as my mother says). Or, it could just be that my defenses are down because I’m not getting as many delicious fresh fruits and vegetables as I do in the spring, summer and fall. And it could be my lack of fresh air and sunshine.

Whatever it is, when I get sick, I have the luxury of having a few sick days I can use for those times when it hurts to get out of bed. I wonder how my dad handles it when he’s sick and still has to go out in the cold orchards and prune the trees. Or on rainy days when he’s out filling a cherry order. Growers don’t have the luxury of staying home in bed with a good book and gallons of hot tea. They don’t have the option of calling in. Who would they even call into? Mother Nature? When it’s time to farm, it’s time to farm – no questions asked.

I guess that’s one more reason I hold the growers in this country in such high regard. Not only do you all bring us our food supply, you do it under conditions most Americans wouldn’t – or couldn’t – work under. I don’t know many people who would sign up for a job that involves dirt, chemicals, nasty weather and the red tape hassles that it requires to be a farmer.

It takes a special type of person to do this job. It takes dedication. It takes honor. It takes pride. And it takes a work ethic that most Americans wouldn’t understand.

I’m thankful I had a little of that work(aholic) ethic instilled in me at a young age. Even on my sick day I’m working – writing this column – unable to nap until it’s finished. I’m even feeling a little guilty about not being in the office. But, that’s why technology is so great. I can write at home and e-mail it to myself at work. And I’m sure my co-workers appreciate my germs (achoo!) staying at home, in bed, with me.


Originally posted Saturday, Apr. 7, 2007

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