The dilemma of work

In my post-Worldcon funk, I had to deal with an interesting ethical dilemma.

Last night, my daughter complained that she was getting “bug bites” and feeling frustrated with her new school schedule (plus the difficulty of returning to school after summer and surgery). My wife and I went for a walk, and when we returned, we found our daughter in something of a panic, with all manner of skin irritations.

Now we do have 3 cats, and one of them spends a lot of time outside, but I didn’t think we had suffered a massive flea infestation. Spiders? Mites? Bad-tempered pixies?

So we moved her to the study and began cleaning her room, washing all the bedding and stuffed animals and getting ready to spray the floor. But then we realized a simpler answer might be at hand: drug reaction. For the past week, my daughter had been taking a prophylactic dose of antibiotics to deal with what appeared to be a minor infection following her jaw surgery.

A quick internet search confirmed that this particular drug had certain less common side effects, including hives and (rarely) irritability. Ah ha. We called an advice nurse, who hooked us up to a doctor, who then prescribed some countermeasures.

This morning, the teen was in better shape, but needed to rest, so my wife began re-arranging her schedule so she could keep an eye on things. I went off to work.

And felt miserable. I work remotely 2 days a week, but this wasn’t one of those days. I had no project deadlines. So I sat there, worrying about my child and our loss of income (my wife is self employed). Finally, I told my manager I was heading home to do remote work for the rest of the day.

The dilemma: my work at home schedule is an experiment, and I’d already pushed the issue during my daughter’s surgery and recovery time (since I couldn’t take enough vacation time to cover everything). Doing it again so soon after my Worldcon vacation might bring unwanted attention to me, and that’s never a good idea at a traditional Japanese firm. Conformity and consistency are safe. Doing your own thing (even if you meet your goals) is dangerous.¬†

While I have a responsibility to contribute income (and health insurance) to the household, I also have to be a parent. The choice was difficult. And clear.

You have to work, but how you work is up to you.

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