I know, I know...I have to get around to the China post. I'll get to it when I get to it.
I've got a cold this week and it made me remember something I wanted to write about.
During one of my first days working in Singapore, my secretary walked into my office one morning and handed me a piece of paper.
"What's this?" I asked.
"Mr. Luo's doctor's note," she said.
"His doctors note. He was out sick yesterday."
I couldn't believe what I just heard. "Seriously?"
"Of course...he was out sick yesterday. This is his doctor's note that confirms he was sick."
You've got to be kidding me. This guy is an adult professional and he's bringing me a doctor's note like he's a 2nd grader asking for a hall pass so he can go to the potty. I couldn't believe it.
It turn's out, this is standard practice in Singapore. I asked around the other expats in the office and even talked to other Americans I know working at other companies. It seems, Singaporeans aren't bothered by this practice at all. Can you imagine being a 40 year old professional engineer and needing to bring in a doctor's note because you took a day off at home with the flu?
I hardly ever take sick days. At most, I've taken two or three days over the last 5 years; one of those was when I threw my back out. If I'm sick enough to not be able to go to work, I'm not getting out of bed. Unless I think I need antibiotics (i.e. not just a cold) or a happen to have a broken bone, I'm going to stay in bed, get some sleep and go to work tomorrow.
I can maybe understand the note if you've needed to be out of work for a large number of days. Maybe you've got swine flu or spinal meningitis or brain cancer and you need more than a day or two off. If you're that sick, the trip to the doctor is warranted. But for one day? Really?
"Doctor, I have the sniffles. Can I stay home from school, um, I mean, work today?"
The thing that drives me nuts is that when these folks come back in to work with their little pieces of paper, they don't seem all that sick. A morning at the doctor's office in exchange for an afternoon of golf? Sounds like a good deal to me.