Man With Hodgkin's Disease Way Over Sick-Day Limit

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Issue 3638

Woman Feels Guilty After Switching Brands

RUTLAND, VT– Area resident Teresa Grant was plagued by feelings of guilt Monday after buying a box of Snuggle fabric softener, ending years of unswerving brand loyalty to Downy. "I remember my mother using Downy when I was a toddler," a distraught Grant said. "It's just that I got a trial size of Snuggle in the mail and, well, I kind of preferred the smell." Grant added that, while taking the Snuggle box from the supermarket shelf, she strove not to make eye contact with the baby on the Downy bottle.

Filmmakers Call Vincent Canby's Life Overlong, Poorly Paced

NEW YORK– The life of Vincent Canby, the longtime New York Times senior film critic who died last week at 76, is being called "an overlong, poorly paced mess" by filmmakers. "Mr. Canby's life builds glacially, taking an excruciating 21,549,600 minutes to reach the part in which he finally begins writing for the Times," said director Roland Joffe, whose 1986 film The Mission was panned by Canby as "a singularly lumpy sort of movie." "The life then completely falls apart in its final third, with Canby retiring in the most anticlimactic manner possible before an inevitable death scene as awash in bathos as any you're likely to see."

Congressman Picked Last For Committee On Youth Fitness

WASHINGTON, DC– U.S. Rep. David Bonior (D-MI), an awkward, unpopular legislator from Michigan's 10th District, was picked last for the new House Committee On Youth Fitness Monday. "I didn't even want to be on that dumb committee," said Bonior after being made the final pick by Rep. J.C. Watts Jr. (R-OK), the committee's athletic, well-liked chairman. "I'm only doing it because I have to be on one more committee to get full credit for this term." Bonior reportedly stood at the front of the House floor during the selection process, trying to be noticed.

U.S. Leads World In Mexican-Food Availability

UNITED NATIONS– According to a U.N. report released Monday, for the 16th straight year, the U.S. ranks first in the world in Mexican-food availability. "The U.S. boasts an unrivaled abundance of Mexican food, producing 23 billion pounds of tacos, enchiladas, and burritos in 1999," the report read. "No other nation on Earth can claim such plenty with regard to beans-and-rice-based Mexican fare." Japan ranked second, with the top five rounded out by Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.

Sharon Stone To Star In Major Backstage Drama

HOLLYWOOD, CA– Daily Variety reported Monday that Sharon Stone will star in a major backstage drama on the set of the upcoming Barry Levinson film This Charming Man. "Look for Ms. Stone to electrify onlookers throughout the Paramount Pictures lot with her gripping performance as a star outraged that some wardrobe-department nobody keeps knocking on her trailer when she's trying to get into character," Daily Variety's Peter Bart wrote in his Back Lot column. The Stone scene is expected to generate major buzz in Paramount studio head Sherry Lansing's office.

Around The World In One Paragraph

Yesterday in my bed-chamber, Nurse Pin-head opened the glass-doors to my private balcony to release the fetid cloud of odors, miasmas, and sour regrets which had built up over the past several weeks. But as soon as this poisonous atmosphere was expelled, my bed-chamber became contaminated with the cacophony of the out-side world. I could hear the milk-maids' buckets clatter, the cows lowing in the dell, and the indentured servant boy's tortured cries as he was being flogged. But punctuating this din was a sort of inane chattering, occasionally interrupted by a shrill cackle.
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Terrifying Uniformed Bachelorette Party Storms Local Bar

TACOMA, WA—Bursting into the establishment seemingly out of nowhere and overtaking it within a matter of moments, a terrifying uniformed bachelorette party stormed local pub Casey’s Saloon Friday night, onlookers reported.

Man With Hodgkin's Disease Way Over Sick-Day Limit

PULASKI, TN–Atco Tool & Design machinist Richie Loftus, diagnosed four months ago with Hodgkin's Disease, has already exceeded his allotted number of sick days for the year, his employers warned Monday.

Loftus rests at home after radiation therapy, putting him even further over the sick-day limit.

"It's unfortunate, what's happening with Richie, but company policy clearly states that employees are permitted 15 sick days per year," Atco Tool & Design office manager Mike Phelan said. "Richie's already missed a month and a half of work since June. You just can't run a business that way."

Loftus, 32, admitted that his constant fever, crippling fatigue, and malignant splenomegaly has affected his job performance.

"I've definitely missed my share of days," said Loftus, diagnosed with Stage III Hodgkin's lymphoma on June 20 after a steady decline in health prompted a biopsy. "I've tried to keep my chemotherapy sessions down to just one a week so I don't have to drop down to part-time at Atco and lose my health coverage, but it's been tough."

Though Loftus used a majority of his sick days after the diagnosis, Phelan noted that he had not been a paragon of regular attendance beforehand.

"By the time Richie went in for his tests in late June, he had already missed a heck of a lot of work," said Phelan, leafing through Loftus' personal file. "In fact, the week before the disease even started, he was out for three days because of headaches, nausea, and vomiting."

"And even when he was here," Phelan continued, "he wasn't anywhere near as productive as we'd have liked, always needing to lay down in the break room. So we're not exactly talking about the most reliable employee to begin with."

Loftus said he has tried to make adjustments in his approach to the job, but it has been difficult.

"I've tried to find a way to get around this whole illness thing," said Loftus, resting on his living-room couch after a morning of radiation therapy. "Unfortunately, I don't have the kind of job where I can work from home, even if I had the energy and lucidity to do so. And even when I can make it into the shop, it's tough to work the machines, because these club fingers I've developed are just as ridden with subdural hemophilia as the rest of me. I feel terrible about being such a drain on AT&D."

Nearly broke, Loftus recently asked Atco Tool & Design management if he could take some of the 22 paid personal days and 31 vacation days he has accumulated during his six years with the company, and use them as sick days. The request was denied.

"They said I couldn't do that, because that would open up a whole can of worms, with employees messing around and mixing up the different types of paid leave," Loftus said. "They did say, though, that I should feel free to use my vacation days and take a nice trip to Hawaii or somewhere–so long as I don't get any treatment while I'm there."

Added Loftus: "Hawaii probably wouldn't be much fun, anyway, what with this explosive diarrhea."

Loftus' expensive treatment is 80 percent covered by his employee health plan, a benefit that is costing Atco Tool & Design a significant amount of money.

"Richie's type of extended-illness coverage costs this company an extra $22 per employee per month. That adds up. Not only that, but he goes through Cisplatin, Cytarabine, and Dexamethasone like they were going out of style," said Atco Tool & Design general manager Mel Huffinger. "And those drugs are not cheap, that's for sure. Richie would have to work here another 45 years without a single major illness for us to break even on him. And we all know that ain't gonna happen."

"I feel for Richie, obviously, but I don't think anyone would hold him up as a model employee," Phelan said. "He's a decent guy, and I hope he gets through this and becomes a healthy, productive worker again as soon as he can. But right now, he's hardly giving us incentive to hire Hodgkin's Disease sufferers in the future."

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