Yes, today I am playing the role of the children’s picture book character the Sniffalo, the cold-ridden and less well-known cousin to Julia Donaldson’s more popular Gruffalo. Colds and flus suck, but summer versions come with the added twist of making you have to drink boiling hot LemSip on a bloody roasting day when actually you want to be guzzling something with lots of ice cubes in it. And there’s just something weird about having to go to the pharmacist and ask for LemSip when it’s so hot you’re wearing shorts and your darkest shades. I suspect this also means I will have the unbounded joy of our wonderful ‘welcome back’ talk our new boss does (apparently been on the company rule book for ages, just no-one ever bothered with it before).
This is where if you are off ill, even for a single day, the manager takes you in for a quick chat where he asks why you were off (gee, for the same reason as I told you when I called in sick!), what medication you took, if any (and what I wonder, business is it of his? He’s not a doctor). And then they like to casually mention how many sick days you may have used over the last year or two. All supposedly to make you feel the company is looking out for you and is concerned about your well-being but actually I suspect strongly it is designed to make you feel guilty for being ill and not at work so next time you are ill you will struggle out of your sick bed and come in rather than put up with another of these sodding welcome back talks. Nice bit of nasty psychology – the company gets to look like its being caring but actually they are having a go at you. Of course, such little talks never take into account all the times you were feeling ill and struggled into work for an entire weekend shift because you knew you were in charge and had to lock up and being off would be a nightmare with some other senior forced to work longer to cover you. But of course, you get no thanks for that kind of thing, just grumblings at being ill and a never-spoken but rather implied feeling that you are some sort of malingerer. It’s a great place to work, Waterstone’s.