I hurt my lower back last Thursday. How? Well, it’s not relevant at this point in the post, but I’ll share the information at the end — for those who read that far.

The pain wasn’t too bad on Friday. I was able to sit at my desk chair in my den and work remotely, as I and so many other office workers have been doing for more than three years. But the pain was enough to keep me from attending an office get-together in a bar in downtown Montreal on Friday night — though I had serious reservations about attending, anyway, given that I and my partner haven’t caught COVID-19 yet. We haven’t caught colds or the flu in the past three years, either.

Score three for remote working.

By Saturday morning, another work day for me, my lower back was hurting big time. I had trouble getting out of bed. The pain was so bad that I couldn’t dress the lower part of my body, so I slipped on a light dress, took some Advils (which didn’t help) and leaned against a heating pad on my desk chair — and was able to do my whole shift.

If I were one of those people forced to return to office settings, I would have had no choice but to call in sick for both those shifts, and some poor soul/colleague would have been asked to give up their Saturday day off to replace me — because I was the only scheduled editor on duty that day.

Indeed, I doubt I would be going to the office this week, either. (I work Tues-Sat.) My lower back is still hurting, though heating pad therapy is helping quite a bit. Not so the expensive back pain medication — Robaxacet — my partner purchased for me, so I guess there is no magic bullet.

Back in the days when we all worked at the office and no one even considered remote work, a colleague was once carried out on a stretcher because his back gave out. He was off for about two weeks, and I got stuck with his work as well as my own. So, I know what an inconvenience it can be for colleagues when one person is off sick.

I haven’t missed a workday because of illness since before the pandemic began. I’ve had to take a couple of days off because of colonoscopies and all the messy preparation that involves. I had hoped I could work, anyway, but a manager convinced me to take two days off. I was able to schedule a followup colonoscopy on a day off, so no inconvenience for my colleagues that time.

Why am I mentioning all this? No, I am not patting myself on the back. There’s a bigger picture here. Working remotely has allowed many office workers to work when they are feeling under the weather. If they had had to be in the office, they would have been calling in sick — at great inconvenience and expense for their employers.

It is something that is overlooked in the push and pull between office managers who want their subordinates to return and workers who see no need to. In truth, there is no need other than that of appeasing insecure office managers who don’t really do much and feel that strutting around the workplace like office overlords will make them appear to be busy.

But who benefits most when an ill employee works from home rather than calls in sick? Well, the CEO, for one. Most if not all CEOs get a performance bonus every year, whether their companies have performed well or not. By working on Saturday, I saved my company from having to pay someone overtime to fill in for me. That helped the company’s bottom line, which in turn trickles all the way to the top, where the CEO and other top execs earn the most and get annual bonuses. So, you are welcome, Andrew . . .

I was going to talk a lot more about the benefits of remote work for companies’ bottom lines and  executive bonuses, but I’m already near the 700-word mark here. So, I’ll tell you more another time.

But you made it this far because you wanted to know how I came to be suffering with lower back pain, yes?

Well, it involves my set of drums. After laying off them for a couple of months, I went nuts on them for an hour or so, then lifted 10-pound weights afterward.

Sigh . . .

The moral of the story: drum more often, keep my back muscles in shape. Ditto for the weights.

And fuck the aging process!

— Jillian