Is There Anything Worse than Being Sick at the Office?

As I'm sure many of you already know, flu season is here. And apparently, it's one of the worst seasons in recent memory. We're talking vaccine shortages and a staggering number of cases being reported.

Lucky for me, I managed to avoid getting the flu. Not so lucky for me, I've got a cold from hell that's left me feeling like I caught the bubonic plague.

As I've spent the last few days trying to keep this beast at bay, I got to thinking. Is there anything worse than being the sick guy at the office? When you're putting in finance hours, you'll eventually play that role, so today's post is about how to cope with spending 14 hour days in your cube hacking away at a model while you've got a hacking cough.

Pulling 80+ hour weeks, week-in and week-out, will do a number of things to your body. Some people gain weight, some people lose weight. Some people simply lose their minds. One thing is for certain, your immune system takes an absolute beating.

Even if you manage to keep a decent diet by avoiding Seamless temptation and hit the gym regularly, you'll likely succumb to something at one point during a stint in finance. It certainly doesn't help that germs get around a cubicle bullpen with such incredible ease.

In my experience, I've seen Analysts and Associates deal with sickness in a variety of ways. Some good, some bad, and some non-sensical. Let's have a look at a few ways that junior finance professionals deal with being the sick guy at the office:

Calling in Sick - Believe it or not, people occasionally call in sick. Let me be clear, you should absolutely not do this unless you seriously cannot get into work. In my three years as an Analyst in investment banking, I called in sick twice. Once because I woke up with the flu and literally could not get out of bed. The other because of food poisoning. I'm not saying this as though it's a badge of honor. It's not. But, I've seen people call in sick when they absolutely could have been in the office and I've seen them do it far too frequently for a banking gig, and it was a black mark on their record. Unless you're a total wreck, I'd avoid calling in sick too often unless you want your fellow Analysts / Associates to resent you and your bonus to potentially take a hit.

Pumping Yourself Full of Vitamins - You ever see those packets of Emercen-c? Or how about Airborne? I used to work with a guy who swore by them and would use them like an absolute addict at the first sign of a cough. I always found it a bit bizarre, especially considering neither product claims to treat, prevent, or cure any sort of sickness. But, I suppose there's something to be said for the placebo effect, right?

Loading up on Hot Tea - This is my go-to technique. When I'm the sick guy in the office, you can guarantee that I'll have a hot cup of tea on me 24/7. Does it work? I like to think so. At the very least, it doesn't hurt.

Absolutely Nothing at All - Some people simply do nothing...no matter what. It's one thing to tough it out when you've got a bad head cold, it's another thing to let serious problems linger. I heard a story through the grape vine of a first year Analyst who, somehow, caught the West Nile Virus and didn't miss a day of work until the symptoms started getting noticeably severe. Don't do this. As much as face time is a part of life in finance, people will understand if you take a day off to deal with your obscure mosquito-transmitted disease.

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How do you deal with being the sick guy at the office? Anyone else dealing with a nasty cold or flu this winter? Let me know in the comments.

Comments (25)

Jan 24, 2013

Pro-Tip:
Do not get Mono as an analyst.

Jan 24, 2013

I used to play hookey with the ole "sorry my AIDS is flaring up today" trick

Jan 24, 2013

yes, yes there is.... being hungover at the office

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Jan 24, 2013

I take the basic multi-vit + vit c daily but the minute I feel any sort of cold coming on I start pumping Airborne, Emergen-C and Cold-EEZE into my system. Seems to work as I'm rarely ever really sick. I've also taken Thera-Flu before which seemed to work and the warming mixture was nice. Nyquil is a beautiful thing as well

FrankD'anconia:

yes, yes there is.... being hungover at the office

Can't think of anything that is worse then this.

Jan 24, 2013
Bobb:

I take the basic multi-vit + vit c daily but the minute I feel any sort of cold coming on I start pumping Airborne, Emergen-C and Cold-EEZE into my system. Seems to work as I'm rarely ever really sick. I've also taken Thera-Flu before which seemed to work and the warming mixture was nice. Nyquil is a beautiful thing as well

FrankD'anconia:

yes, yes there is.... being hungover at the office

Can't think of anything that is worse then this.

Nyquil is great, though you wake up feeling so drowsy.

I think being really sick at work is worse than the hangover because your officemates will resent you for fear of getting sick themselves.

Jan 25, 2013
FrankD'anconia:

yes, yes there is.... being hungover at the office

don't forget about being hungover during client meetings. Happened to me twice, client decided to pop in unannounced for a little chat that turned into a full on deal improvement negotiation.

Jan 25, 2013
ST Monkey:
FrankD'anconia:

yes, yes there is.... being hungover at the office

don't forget about being hungover during client meetings. Happened to me twice, client decided to pop in unannounced for a little chat that turned into a full on deal improvement negotiation.

For one day, horrific hangovers are worse but colds/flu last longer so they take the cake on the longevity of your misery. Client meetings hungover are awful - I remember being in Chicago and my hotel room had some kind of vitamin powder mix for water (hate myself for not writing it down) that you can stir up if you're hungover. I tried it, threw up and felt great and made it through a morning meeting that started around 730, so I guess it worked?

Jan 24, 2013

got a flu shot back in october but haven't been sick with anything in like 9 years. strong ole immune system. its probably going to shit though sitting at this computer all day now.

Jan 24, 2013

Being average-level-sick (with a cold or flu) feels so much worse than hangovers, even severe ones, IMO. That hot-balloon-expanding-in-my-head feeling keeps me from thinking straight and saps all motivation and energy.

Jan 24, 2013

I am definitely emergenc guy...I take it like a coke addict. I think it really helps if you take it on the first symptoms of a cold. When take it my colds usually don't get that intense and don't last as long

Jan 24, 2013
denwhat:

I am definitely emergenc guy...I take it like a coke addict. I think it really helps if you take it on the first symptoms of a cold. When take it my colds usually don't get that intense and don't last as long

You snort it?

Jan 24, 2013

Vitamin C works. Luckily, its water soluble and you simply can't OD on it. That and some Zinc is good. That's pretty much what Emergen-c and airborne are made out of but with flavoring. Some people prefer the pills others don't. I've never called in personally, but most people at my job don't anyway. If you're sure its a flu, go get some tamiflu at one of those take care clinics. No soda, just water to flush your system.
If you can't stop coughing, pop lozenges like candy. Usually works, that and muting a conference call.
If all else fails, go home sick, watch Contagion, and panic.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contagion_(film)

PE is the new black.

Jan 24, 2013

getting shot in the face, point blank. that sucks more than getting sick.

Money Never Sleeps? More like Money Never SUCKS amirite?!?!?!?

    • 1
Jan 24, 2013

antibiotics; the hack will be gone in 2 days max.

Jan 24, 2013
TheKing:

I heard a story through the grape vine of a first year Analyst who, somehow, caught the West Nile Virus and didn't miss a day of work until the symptoms started getting noticeably severe.

This made me laugh pretty hard.

I've read studies about how loading up on vitamins and vitamin C as you're getting sick doesn't really help. There was one study about vitamin C, and the results went something like this...the average human being has a cold for 11 days per year. If you take Vitamin C every day for the entire preceding YEAR, you will only have a cold for 9 days on average per year. 2 days is definitely beneficial, but the study seemed to suggest that the (small) benefits of taking Vitamin C to fend off colds are only effective if you take the vitamin for an extended period of time prior to becoming sick. I don't think taking them AS you're becoming sick helps much.

I think the best thing to do is drink a lot of water, wash your hands often, and don't touch your face to help you get better as soon as possible. As far as relief, I just load up on cough drops, benadryl, and, if needed, a Netti pot

Jan 24, 2013

people get sent home at my shop. trading floor is too tight and shit spreads like the plague

Jan 25, 2013
whatwhatwhat:

people get sent home at my shop. trading floor is too tight and shit spreads like the plague

Yup, same here, I showed up sick a few weeks ago and MD comes in all "what the hell are you trying to do?? Get out of here and go to the doctor." Turns out I wasn't contagious, but they didn't need to know that :)

Seriously, being sick at work fucking blows, but I'd rather that than being hungover and feeling like death, to the point where I'm just not drinking Sunday through Thursday, it's just not worth it.

Jan 24, 2013

Who the hell gets flu vaccines... And you call yourselves alpha males. Medicine is for women.

Jan 24, 2013

op,
how bout getting axed? metaphorically or literally

How big is yours?

Jan 25, 2013

if you legitimately want off from work, just get pink eye....2 days off, and you get to play video games all day..a doctor wont let you near work if you have pink eye

I eat success for breakfast...with skim milk

Jan 25, 2013
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Jan 25, 2013
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