What with all this noise about swine flu, it seems that every time someone sneezes at the moment is an excuse for someone to back off, waving their hands in an exaggerated way, making pig noises. Hilarious. Gets funnier every time you see it, too.
Anyway, I was talking to Alex the other week about pain thresholds, and how we* despise people who claim to have a really really high pain threshold and look at you like you're a wimp when you cry because you fell over (for instance). You know the sort of people I mean. They boast about never taking tablets, and how they make it into work despite the crushing pain in their head/back/stomach/whatever. Whereas when I get sick and have a day off, this makes me a pathetic work-shy waste of space. What never seems to occur to these people is that maybe I am, in fact, more sick than them. That maybe their headache is not that bad, and that if they had a headache that was as bad as my headache, they'd be curled up under a desk, eyes shut, wimpering for an epidural. I'm not saying this is the case, I'm just saying we have no way of knowing. When I got my wisdom tooth out, it fecking hurt, and I DO NOT want to listen to people who breezed through it without anasthetic - maybe you are braver and stronger and a more worthy person than me, or MAYBE my teeth have deeper roots. WE CANNOT TELL.
Likewise, people who, when I say 'I've been feeling fairly down lately' (meaning: I have spent approximately 80% of my time sobbing into my pillow and the remaining 20% trying to talk myself out of a complex plan which terminates with a leap off the nearest tall building) say 'Oh, I'm so depressed too, I have so much work to do and I don't think I'll get it done for the weekend'. 'No', I want to say, 'You are not depressed, you are merely regreting your self-inflicted disorganisation'.
Which brings us to another thing I wanted to mention: colds and flu. More specifically, the difference between the two, and, on a topical note, swine flu**. Here's the thing: flu is not just a heavy cold. Trust me. It is a different thing entirely. The fact that they have some symptoms in common does not make them the same thing. For the mathematically inclined, sniffing does not imply flu.
If you come into work with the flu, and I take a week off with the flu, it does not mean you are a better person than me. It means you didn't have flu and I did. If you take part in a triathlon with your flu, and I stay in bed impering for several days with mine, it does not mean you are a hardier soul than I am. It means you didn't have flu and I did. Just because you could go scuba-diving when you had your flu, and I took to bed with a box of lemsips, a forest of tissues and a deep wish to never see daylight again, does not make you a better person.
Please stop pretending it does.
* Technically, I can't remember whether Alex actually went so far as to despise such people. I know I do, though.
** Incidentally, I am due to catch flu this year. I had flu in 1989 and I had flu in 1999, so it's about due.