He Said, She Said: Soldier tired of dealing with sickly coworker Print E-mail
Thursday, 27 August 2015
By Shaun and Pamela Collins
Special to GUIDON
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

One of my coworkers is truly dedicated to their work.

He is so dedicated that he even comes to work, hacking, gagging, coughing and feverish. I told him “if you are sick, stay home.” His response was that we had too much to do and he was fine.

There’s not enough hand sanitizer in the world to keep his crud from spreading. Last winter, I know he was the reason that the flu was in our unit (and yes, we got the shot.)  When he is sneezing, he’s a walking Petri dish and he’ll claim that his allergies are not contagious. The first sergeant said he couldn’t put him on quarters but he could send him to sick call. Off to sick call, and the guy returns with a cold pack and no profile for quarters. I mentioned this to the first sergeant and commander, the first sergeant just said, “don’t breathe around him.” How do you pressure a guy to stay home when he should?

HE SAID:  I’m not sure that any amount of pressure will have the impact you want.  You would be better served to compile a list of the people who got sick after each of his ailments that he claimed to be allergies.  Then try to get him to appreciate the number of people who wound up on quarters and were unable to do their job for however long, because he was being “hard core,” thus actually harming the unit rather than his stated intent to help.  

If you can get him to understand that his dedication is admirable, but in the end is more detrimental to the unit’s readiness and mission accomplishment than it is beneficial, he can decide to adjust his perception of how he can best serve the unit … offer to help him take projects home so he can contribute without risking the health and well-being of other unit personnel; if he really cares about the unit, he will set his ego aside.  If he does this to look like a hard charger to feed his ego and impress others rather than for the unit’s greater good, he will continue to engage in this cycle of behavior and there isn’t much you can do about it unless you have the rank and authority to direct him to work from home when he is sick.

SHE SAID:  You’re always going to have people that are willing to come to work no matter how they feel.  They don’t realize they are spreading their germs, or they simply don’t care, thinking that what they have to do is more important than recovering from their contagious illness.  

Logic would dictate that, if he comes in and spreads his germs around, getting others sick, he has single-handedly managed to cripple the entire section, leaving even less people to do what needs to be done.  

I’m sure he doesn’t care, and he will continue to come in no matter what.  I can only suggest you continue to do what you’ve been doing to minimize getting sick.  

(Editor’s note: Shaun and Pamela Collins were both career Soldiers with a combined history of military service spanning over a half of a century. They have been where you are, so if you are facing a difficult situation, ask them. Send your question to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it This column and other original content from Mr. and Mrs. Collins can be found at http://militarysuccessnetwork.com. The opinions expressed are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office or the GUIDON.)
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 09 September 2015 )