Thursday, December 11, 2014

Requiring a Doctor's Note for Illness

This evening I read this article about a Canadian doctor who "wrote a fantastic response to employers who require doctor's notes for sick days." In essence, this doctor argues that by requiring employees to visit the doctor to acquire a medical note validating the employee's illness, an "unnecessary burden is placed on the healthcare system and exposes seriously ill viruses that could cause detrimental consequences to their [the patients'] health." The doctor goes on to say that if this practice continues, the company that requires this action will be billed directly by the doctor's office.

For about three months, I worked as a preschool teacher in an eastern Pennsylvania daycare that required all employees who took a sick day to bring in a doctor's note, otherwise we were in breach of contract and would face consequences, the specifics of which I no longer remember. Yes, we had to sign a contract upon being hired. The contract noted that, among other things, if we broke our contract (by leaving before three months, or by not bringing in a doctor's note after calling out sick, etc.) we had to pay the daycare $500. After the three months were up, one would sign another contract, the length or specifics of which I remain ignorant; after those three months, I worked there for a little while longer before teaching for two semesters at Lehigh Carbon Community College (which I liked a lot better and paid a lot more).

Bringing in a doctor's note when sick seems ludicrous, considering that much of the time, one's sickness does not require a visit to the doctor. Most of the time, for things like the flu, one might be sick enough to legitimately warrant time off from work, but going to a doctor won't solve anything. (Furthermore, I hadn't health insurance at the time, so there was the added bonus of paying even more out of pocket.)

As a side note: This was the same place that insisted I bring in a copy of my high school diploma, which, you know, who keeps theirs? I might have mine somewhere at my parents', but in the meantime I had obtained both a two-year and four-year degree; I could certainly show them the diploma from my undergraduate institution, which was still somewhat recent. "We need to see your high school diploma!" "Well, I have no idea where it is. I can show you my college diploma, though." "We need your high school diploma." And back and forth a bit until I said, if I graduated from college with a Bachelor's degree, I probably have a high school diploma, wouldn't you agree? "...Oh, yeah."

I worked at this daycare beginning in the fall, and into December, when it's not unreasonable for snow to fall. One morning, I set out in really dangerous, icy, snowy conditions. I grew up in eastern Pennsylvania, and lived there for more then 20 years, so I'm not afraid of driving in snow, but the I-78 was all backed up, the road was slippery, it really was dangerous, and I simply didn't feel safe. I turned around and came home, called work, and told them I wasn't coming in, "Well, you know that might cause problems." "Hey, that's okay, do what needs to be done. I don't feel safe driving in that." Nothing ever did happen, possibly because the contract had already been fulfilled, but at this point I don't remember.

Daycare workers are absolutely underpaid; I was earning between $8 and $9 an hour because I had a four-year degree; this was higher than most of the other employees. It's physically demanding work, and between that and the low pay there tends to be a lot of turnover, so I understand the lengths to which this daycare and other employers might have felt it necessary to go to in order to retain staff, but requiring a doctor's note seems unwarranted, and does not exactly fill employees with the sense of being trusted or valued. It's a lousy cycle.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

NaBloPoMo: First Christmas Concert of the Season

Last night, Ed, his dad, and I went to a Christmas concert at Temple Square. It was the first Christmas concert of the season, and fitting, since this weekend is the first weekend of Advent (and therefore the start of the Catholic liturgical year). 

Before the concert began - because we had arrived in plenty of time - we took a few minutes to walk around Temple Square to admire all the Christmas lights, which had only been turned on the day before. It was a fairly warm night for late November - no heavy coats needed. Unlike previous years, I didn't go mad taking pictures, but I did take two. The lights are really arranged quite well; everything is beautifully decorated.

the program from the concert
Two choirs performed - Because We Sing! and We Also Sing! The concert lasted about an hour, with both choirs performing separately and together.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

NaBloPoMo: The Passenger Pigeon (Fold the Flock)

A few months ago, the Smithsonian ran an article on Passenger Pigeons. An origami pigeon was included, such that one could fold a Passenger Pigeon to commemorate their extinction. This morning Ed kindly folded the pigeon for me (I'm terrible at origami).

The attached was part of the origami sheet:
Huge flocks of Passenger Pigeons once flew across our skies. Millions of birds would pass overhead, blocking the sun and darkening our skies for days. Because there were so many, no one dreamed they could ever be gone. But as the population of the United States grew, and the demand for food increased, they were nearly all killed by hunters. 
On March 24, 1900, a boy in Pike County, Ohio, shot the last recorded wild Passenger Pigeon. 
Fourteen years later, in 1914, the last captive Passenger Pigeon, Martha, died in her cage at the Cincinnati Zoo. 
The story of the Passenger Pigeon extinction reminds us that sometimes the natural world is more fragile than we think. To help remember the Passenger Pigeon, we are folding origami pigeons to recreate the great flocks. Please fold a Passenger Pigeon and help to Fold the Flock.

Friday, November 28, 2014

NaBloPoMo: What Constitutes Fulfillment

Because I know folks who are perplexed by people who do not have children, and questions why (as in, "Why don't you have children?"): These questions imply that there are, in fact, reasons why people do not have children. "Because we don't" does not compute; "no particular reason {that we k now of" also causes confusion. Without having gone the route of being extensively tested for this sort of thing, we simply don't know why. I have my suspicions, and one two good thoughts as to why, but I'm unwilling to put myself through the emotional misery to determine a biological reason.

Ultimately, though, one's purpose in life does not solely need to be tied to having children; I would argue that one has more than one purpose in life.

"You might need kids to have a purpose. I do not.

Here’s the biggest thing that kills me about people who insist that deep down I want kids – they often say something like “but kids are the biggest blessing!” or “you won’t be truly fulfilled unless you have children,” or “you’re missing out on the best part of life.” These statements may be true for other people. They are not true for me, as the above paragraphs should have clued everyone in to.

My purpose is not tied to having babies. My purpose is in helping people who are already here, not in creating more of them."

The fact is that I go back and forth when it comes to my desire to have children. I sometimes wish that I could have the experience of being pregnant...once. I'd like to know what it's like. I'd appreciate the experience of raising a child, I think, but like marriage, this is not necessarily a strong, overwhelming urge. (I figured if I got married, great, but if not, that was really okay, too. I met someone who I wanted to marry, and in short order we did in fact get married, but it wasn't something I especially wanted to do until I met Ed.)

I also do wonder if I'll get to be older and wish I had exhausted all my mental, emotional, and financial resources - even during moments when I think that would be foolish, since that would imply that I'm incapable of fulfilling my own needs and providing and taking care of myself, which is necessary to be able to take care of the other people in my life whom I care about.

"At least I’ve thought about it – perhaps because I’m often asked to justify my position or explain why. To end that conversation I now sometimes say I couldn’t have children.

It’s not an outright lie. As it turns out, much as I had thought, the desire to have kids just wasn’t strong enough in me. It was there a bit; like a radio signal that came and went. I’d look at friends’ kids and I’d feel a pang but then it would go away like the beginning of a threatening headache that melts without medication."

It comes down to personal fulfillment. I live in a culture in which women are, I feel, pressured and otherwise expected to have as many children as soon as possible, with the singular definition of purpose and fulfillment. If the fulfillment is to care for others, though, there are many ways to do that (I happen to be in a career that exemplifies that). 

"But raising your kids or someone else’s isn’t crucial to fulfillment. 

'Women without children are perfectly capable of being happy,' Gilbert writes. 'What they’re often missing isn’t kids, but a society and a culture that values and respects them.' 

This is as true a thing as I’ve ever read on the subject. Fulfillment, after all, is a feeling of a job well done, a sense of peace at having met a goal."

Thursday, November 27, 2014

NaBloPoMo: Thanksgiving Grub

Today's menu:
My first pecan pie came out pretty well, although I think I
should have baked it a little less.
The buttermilk pie is surprisingly good; it's a Southern pie,
custard-y and not terribly sweet.
traditional pumpkin pie
And of course the brined, dry rubbed turkey, complete with
stuffing (because stuffing is very important).