Lisa's Mum replies: Sickness and the Office Douchebag

Lisa's Mum was thrilled with the helpful suggestions that came in from readers in response to the letter she received last week. As you may remember, the irrepressable Jerry Castle sent Mum a letter asking how he should deal with an Office Douchebag who insists on coughing and sneezing all over the office, threatening his preparation for the 2012 Commuter Olympics. The comments that came through following the post contained wisdom that would have made Confucious proud. Suggestions for avoiding sickness in the office included eating tuna, drinking craft beer, and turning Japanese. Lisa's Mum enjoyed all these suggestions, although despite being a lady of small stature she was unable to effect a complete Japanese transformation.

Lisa's Mum's complete response to Jerry is below. Remember, if you have a question for Lisa's Mum, send it to her in the comments section below, or send an email to her at

Dear Jerry

 The Office Douchebag is a strange beast. Oftentimes I've noticed that ODs are possessed with such a generous and sharing spirit that they will share their germs freely, along with their e-galleries of wedding pictures and their opinions on office politics. You cannot fault their giving nature. ODs are typically endowed with a rather inflated sense of their own importance in the office environment. You can see this best when someone drops a big fat hint that the OD should go home and stop sneezing all over everyone: 'Oh [OD's name], you don't sound healthy. Maybe you should go home and rest.' To which the OD will respond with some kind of false matyrdom, 'Oh no, I can't. I've got too much work to do. I'll be ok.'

The reality, as you and I both know, is that should the OD go home, the world will indeed keep turning, and probably no one will even notice. But if they were to go home, they would probably sneeze all over their kids and their partner, and then they would REALLY get it.

In an ideal world, all work environments would operate in the same way as a European Protour team. At the first sign of a sneeze, the offending athlete is whisked into quarantine, where they remain for the duration of the sneeze and the following 14 days. I have even heard that Lance Armstrong, in his heyday, would order the quarantine of any domestique who demonstrated a sharp intake of breath (often the first warning of an impending sneeze). As a result, most of Lance's domestiques were quarantined within the first 5 minutes of their time trial warmup, which is why only Lance performed well in the Tour de France prologues.

Sadly, thanks to democracy we can no longer lock up people who sneeze over other people. All we can do is eat lots of tuna, drink craft beer and perhaps turn Japanese. When an OD gets you sick before an important race, you should, in the spirit of generosity with which you were infected, freely share your thoughts on the subject to the offending OD. And go and get some Sudafeds and thank your lucky stars that ASADA does not test athletes at the Commuter Olympics.

Love and kisses

Lisa's Mum