So there I was, on a Saturday morning, standing watch as one of my employees vomited into the garbage can by her desk. I wish I could say this was a strange occurrence in my people management career, but sadly it wasn’t.
No one told me when I became a “boss” that I would occasionally have to play nursemaid to sick employees. Or in this case, a hung over employee. Dealing with ill staff is just part of the territory.
In every job I’ve held, I knew how to find the sick rooms, the first aid kit and the taxi slips for sending people home. I knew because I needed to use all of them.
In this case, a colourful employee who I’ll call Julie had spent a hard night of partying on Friday. Our call centre opened at 6am, so she might have still been drunk when she arrived to work. With her it was hard to tell the difference.
A few hours into the day I heard retching from my desk and got up to investigate. I located the source of the vomit and supervised Julie in her endeavours. There isn’t much you can do until the retching stops. The funny part was in between her heaves, Julie would look at me and loudly yell, “I swear I’m not hung over!” Her protests might have been more believable if the garbage can hadn’t smelled like gin.
When Julie was done, she was conscientious enough to take her own garbage can to the bathroom to clean it out, saving me the hassle. This event turned out much better than it could have. I didn’t have any cleaning to do. We weren’t always so lucky.
My unfortunate partner, Jason, worked a different morning that involved an employee projectile vomiting all over her desk and the carpet. She was in no shape to clean up after herself and there was no janitorial staff around at 5am. That left Jason with clean-up duty. I think I got the better end of the sick deal.
I guess the moral of this tale is that managing people is not for the squeamish. Two job requirements for any supervisor: the ability to handle the unexpected and an iron stomach.