Cathy Hamilton: Call in Gray Day
December 18, 2008
Craig — I’m not sure how many people actually called in gay to work last Wednesday to protest anti-homosexual ballot initiatives in California and other states. The timing of “Call in Gay Day” wasn’t exactly ideal. With a massive layoff announced every hour on CNN, I’d think twice about calling in sick with malaria right now.
But I love the concept.
In fact, I thought the idea was so brilliant, I’m declaring next Wednesday national “Call in Gray Day.”
I’ve even scripted my morning phone call in advance:
“Hello, boss? Sorry, but I’m not going to make it in today. No, I’m not sick. And my car’s working fine, thanks, although the steering wheel is starting to make that annoying sound again. Nope, nobody died. Jury duty? Not since the purse-snatching flasher trial back in June. You’d think they’d give me a break after that one. What’s my reason then? Well, sir, I’m taking a day off to celebrate my grayness. No, you heard right. I’m gray. Gosh, it feels so good to finally say it out loud. What? With all due respect, sir, it is most definitely not a choice. It’s in my genes. Excuse me? Of course, I’ve heard of a little thing called Clairol. I could choose not to be gray, for a while. But it wouldn’t take. You see, I’m a proud gray woman, and I’m taking the day off. See you tomorrow.”
Talk about a revolution. When word of this gets out, it’s sure to catch on like wildfire.
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Imagine it. Millions of white-haired workers strike for a day, leaving their younger counterparts behind to scratch their heads and wonder why there’s no zucchini bread in the break room. Countless carafes of decaffeinated coffee go untouched. Office thermostats return to a bracing 68 degrees, causing scores of employees to miss their afternoon naps. Brag books filled with grandbaby photos sit idly on desks, not a trace of Shalimar hanging in the air.
Across the country, tea rooms and cafeterias fill up with gray panthers while their Gen X and Y co-workers realize that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to make it through the day without a “Dancing with the Stars” update.
“I wonder what’s happening with Harriet’s cat,” a distraught 20-something computer programmer in Silicon Valley mumbles, as he slurps tepid coffee without his daily bran muffin. “Mr. Jeepers just hasn’t been himself after his kidney operation. He’s been moping around that house like a real sad sack. I hope he’s OK.”
“Virginia’s next-door neighbor’s cousin had gall bladder surgery last week,” adds the graphic designer in the next cubicle. “She thought the hospital might release him this morning if his BMs were regular. How the heck are we supposed to find out now?”
“I don’t know,” the programmer replies, gravely, “but we gotta find some soluble fiber soon, man. I’m getting plugged up.”
“I need a hug,” the designer sighs.
In workplaces from sea to shining sea, airplane plants sit neglected and unwatered, fresh flowers all but missing from the corporate landscape. Weeks-old burritos are allowed to spoil one more day in the employee refrigerator. Multitudes of inexperienced workers are deprived of unsolicited but well-meant advice like, “Diet Coke will kill you, you know,” and “Don’t give the milk away for free, honey, make him buy the cow.”
It will be the end of civilization, as we know it, at least for one day. And maybe, just maybe, it will show this youth-crazed nation the real value of its gray population.
And so, my salt-and-pepper-haired brothers and sisters, let us crawl out of bed on Wednesday morning, choke down our 81 milligrams of baby aspirin, brew up some Folgers decaf, raise our bran muffins to the sky, and recite the battle cry: “We’re here! We’re dear! Get used to it!”
Then, go to the phone and call in gray.
Do it for gray pride. Do it to send a message to the world that gray is OK. Or, do it because, like me, you could really use a day off to get your Christmas shopping done. Those stores are just so noisy and crowded on the weekends.