Calling in sick is so much harder than it should be.

It’s because we’re conditioned to feel guilty about not showing up to work. In fact, studies show that 78% of the time, your co-workers are at least “somewhat suspicious” of you when you’re out sick.  83% of your co-workers believe you’re not being a team player when you use a sick day.

Footnote: *72% of all statistics are made-up on the spot with no real facts.

The truth is, we’ve all “played hooky” at least once in our lives, and that comes with the kind of guilt that sticks with you forever. It’s an underrated guilt that gets very little attention because it stays hidden, completely dormant, except for the days when you ask yourself, “should I stay, or should I go?”

Even on mornings when you’ve barely slept because your cough was like a loud snooze button that violently shook your whole body every 7-9 minutes, you try to convince yourself that you’ll feel better after a shower, some Dayquil, and a cup of coffee. After absorbing that trifecta, on a scale of 1 to 10, you might feel like you’re a 7, which is good enough because you couldn’t possibly skip work unless you were at a 9.

So, you shame yourself into being a team player… But, at what cost?

What about your co-workers and what about all those innocent people on Metro North or on the subway? How can you be sure you’re not contagious?

As real estate agents, we fully acknowledge that staying home on days when we’re not feeling well is an easier choice because we don’t have the type of job where we have to punch a clock. We’re contract employees, self-employed for all intents and purposes, but we’re part of a team, so we have a sense of duty to each other.

We plan things days and weeks in advance; meetings with clients or business associates in which we’d perform better in tandem; or scheduled team meetings that keep all our members on the same page. So, “staying home lazy” isn’t an option, and going to work and fighting through a cold comes very naturally. Still, we always like to play the devil’s advocate, so maybe we should call that instinct into question. Ultimately, that “tough-guy” mentality could result in a net-negative for the greater good.


Our team has so many initiatives in store for 2020, so we set aside two full days outside the office to solidify all of our plans. We met twice in mid-December at Marie’s house with Cortnie, our Marketing Director, and Matt, who runs the team’s mortgage finance desk. We circled the dates on the calendar at least a month in advance. The highly prioritized sessions didn’t at all feel like a chore because everyone was really excited to share their visions and ideas.

But Matt shared even more… A terrible flu bug that slapped some of us right in the face!

He confessed to us that he was getting over a cold. It was his 7th or 8th day-in-a-row being sick, and he reasoned that nobody stays sick for too much longer than that. Surely, he thought he was trending in the right direction.

Matt said he still considered himself the new guy on the team, and he didn’t want to be the one to throw a wrench into our 2020 planning sessions. So, he showed up with his symptoms well-masked by a particularly powerful over-the-counter cold medication. He said he was careful not to touch anything inside Marie’s house and he was still wearing his winter gloves when he shook her husband Fausto’s hand. We did see him pet the family dogs, so we’ll have to “google” whether or not a human cold virus can get passed through a beagle and then back to a human again.

On both mornings, Matt picked up Jeff and Cortnie at the train station, and then he drove them to Marie’s, about 6 or 7 miles away. He said he used Clorox wipes to wipe down the interior, but still, that’s four car rides, totaling more than 20 miles, trapped inside the same vehicle, breathing the same sick air.

A few days after our 2nd meeting, Cortnie said she started coughing a bit. That weekend Fausto had terrible flu-like symptoms, worse than anything Matt described. He was holed-up in his room for two days except for the hour or so that Marie dragged him out of bed so he could “plane-down” a slab of wood that was slightly too big for their new kitchen island. Poor Fausto breathed all that saw dust into his already tortured lungs. A few days after that, Marie was down for the count, as sick as any of us had been. Cortnie’s ailments grew worse and Fausto’s symptoms slowly lingered. Somehow, Jeff escaped unscathed.

The Lesson:

Before the outbreak, or in spite of it, the team planning sessions were as productive as we could have imagined. We’re organized heading into the new year, we have big plans in place, and our priorities are in order. So, it begs the question… Was it all worth it?

The glass in our throats. The swollen glands. Our hacked and tender lungs. The mucus. The days on bedrest. The weekends lost.

Was it really worth it?

The answer…

That depends.

It depends on whether or not we implement and execute the plans we made during our meetings. Otherwise, the team’s short-term health crisis was all in vain.

No pressure.

2020 Here we go!