This Vacation Blows
Everyone knows the drill by now. You work from home in your sweats, you have a dozen Zoom calls a day, and you avoid the outside world like the plague (because, duh). But of course, there’s our essential workers, too. Those who are out in the world every day, providing much-needed services ,who just have to straight up live with the very real possibility that they will get sick. And they’ve been given the titles of “heroes”, but what does it really mean? What does it mean to call essential workers “troopers” and “brave” but then yell at the Applebee’s hostess for saying you can’t sit inside? Or when you admire nurses and doctors for tirelessly battling this pandemic, but can’t be bothered to wear a mask when you go buy champagne for your fuckin’ mimosas?
At the very beginning of the pandemic, I worked at a bakery. I knew that with all the new changes to eateries and stores, unemployment was sure to follow in the wake of the virus (of course, I never expected the absolutely enormous percentage that ended up occurring, because damn). So I told my boss that if she needed to cut back on scheduling people, to cut me out first. I didn’t need the money. And that’s exactly what she did. I didn’t work for a month. I can’t imagine if I actually had needed that check.
The whole “heroes” thing is a whole ‘nother topic that I tend to get really heated about (hazard pay, anyone?), but it’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’m here to talk about my friend, who is an essential worker, and share a little bit of their story with working during a pandemic.
My friend has worked at the same company for two and a half years. They work ten-hour shifts, Monday-Thursday, and when the pandemic started they worked twelve hour shifts, Monday-Friday, from March until October. And never, not once, did they ever take a day off or be late to work in all the time they’ve worked there.
A couple months ago, my friend’s father got COVID, and they were exposed to it. So of course, they told their boss that they could be infected and needed to take time off to quarantine. And their boss responded with questions such as “are you symptomatic?” and “how close did you get to your dad?”, and eventually said “well, ultimately, I don’t think you have anything to worry about.”
My friend is given 40 hours of vacation time a year. So, when their boss wouldn’t give them they time off, they spent it all on quarantining. And, yeah, you’re supposed to quarantine for two weeks, not one, but they did their best. They did everything in their power to be responsible when their boss so obviously isn’t.
The cherry on top? Their boss is their father’s uncle. And he didn’t give a shit that his nephew had COVID, or that his relative/employee was exposed, and he definitely didn’t give a fuck that his employee could’ve given COVID to all the other employees.
I just want to reiterate that my friend used their VACATION DAYS solely to protect their coworkers from possibly getting sick. It wasn’t a trip to Hawaii, it was staying at home, alone, waiting to see if they got sick. That’s not a fucking vacation. It’s a necessary precaution in a pandemic, and it shouldn’t be treated as if the employee is choosing to take off work just for shits and giggles. It is an attempt to save lives, protect others, and flatten the curve.
What I’m trying to say is, if you’re an employer, please give your workers sick leave. Please stop telling them to come in even if they’re sick. I know from experience that employers have a bad habit of minimizing employees’ ailments every chance they get, just so they can have an extra fucking bagger or shelf stocker around. We are in the third wave of a pandemic that is killing hundreds of thousands of people. Please please please let your employees stay home if they are sick or have been exposed to COVID.
And have a great day.