Jobs not the only one out sick

Shares of H.H. Haggerty fell dramatically in overseas trading last night, following news that one of its key employees — me — would be out sick today and possibly tomorrow unless I’m feeling a lot better by then.

Haggerty announced Monday that I would be taking this short-term leave of absence “so I can focus on my health.” I’ve appeared gaunt at several recent company events, and had taken extended medical absences twice in the recent past. In 2007, I was out for three days straight with what I claimed was “a little stomach virus, or maybe a bit of food poisoning,” and in early 2010, I stubbed my toe really bad after tripping over my cat and missed two days.

“I love Haggerty so much and hope to be back as soon as I can,” I told the third-shift supervisor who answered the phone when I called in. “I’ll use a vacation day for today but if I’m out tomorrow, I’ll probably take it without pay.”

Few details were released by Haggerty about my health, fueling speculation in stock markets that I might even be out the rest of the week. Share prices of company stock in both Asian and European markets tumbled as much as 20% with the news that a mid-level employee such as myself would be absent from the office.

“He may be the most vital assistant manager for customer service of our era,” said Michael Useem, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and director of its Center for Leadership and Change Management.

Haggerty said in a press release that Timothy D. Martin, a temp working on a 12-week contract who takes care of filing and emptying the recycling bins, would be answering my phone while I’m out and occasionally checking my email, giving me a call at home if he had any questions.

“I have great confidence that Tim will do a terrific job executing the exciting plans I had in place for Tuesday and possibly Wednesday,” I wrote in a letter released to the press. “I just have to remember to change my email password when I get back, because I’m not sure I trust that guy. He has a tattoo, and I may have seen a hole in his tongue that might represent a piercing.”

In other business news, Steve Jobs, the co-founder and chief executive at Apple, is also taking a leave of absence, a year and a half after his return from a liver transplant. The announcement raised questions about both his long-term prognosis and the future of the world’s most valuable technology company.

“Omigod, omigod, omigod!” said Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Company. “Will my iPad still work? What about my iPhone — is it going to malfunction and send streams of deadly radiation into my skull? And how about those music downloads I did last night? Am I still going to be able to listen to Britney’s new song ‘Hold It Against Me’?”

“Uh, I bought the song for my teenage daughter,” he added.

Some observers feared the Jobs absence could have an even wider impact beyond the technology market.

In Washington state, growers assured the public that both table and cooking apples would continue to be distributed to supermarkets across the country. The record company founded by the Beatles said it would still release their music under the Apple label, and might possibly dub the line “we hope Steve Jobs is feeling better” into the Sgt. Pepper classic “Getting Better”. The kids TV network Nickelodeon said broadcasts of its popular sitcom “iCarly” would be unaffected by the news, since this season’s episodes have already been filmed and most of its viewers are only eight years old and, though big fans of the iPod, could care less about the ailing Apple executive.

Even the White House chimed in with reaction to the Jobs report.

“We continue to be disappointed with figures showing the unemployment rate is still unacceptably high,” said press secretary Robert Gibbs. “Creating new jobs and getting America back to work remains the number-one priority of this administration.”

Some technology analysts suggested the Apple announcement could simply be a cover for development of yet another must-have product from the premier tech company of the twenty-first century. One industry insider, speaking confidentially to reporters, speculated the company is working on an “iLiver,” an artificial organ that could assume detoxification, protein synthesis and biochemical production duties if a user’s natural liver fails.

“I’ve seen a prototype and it’s really cool,” the source claimed. “It’s got a responsive touch screen that gives users a lot more options in their digestion functions. So it not only filters toxins from your blood, but you can put up to 10,000 songs on it. The earbuds are a little uncomfortable but the skin on your stomach eventually grows over the cord and after that it doesn’t hurt at all.”

He said current plans call for the iLiver to be unveiled at an electronics expo this summer, with sales to the public beginning in November, just in time for the Christmas gift-giving season.

“If I know Steve Jobs, he’ll want to be back for this one,” the insider said. “He’s got a flair for the dramatic at these types of events, and I can already imagine him lifting up his black turtleneck and proudly announcing ‘Today, I bring you the iLiver. As with all our products, you will be buying it whether you need it or not.'”

The ultimate synergy: Liver function plus live video streaming

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