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People who never call in sick: Love them or hate them?

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They're dependable. They're hard-working. They're also, well, unusual.

They're the people who never miss a day of work.

In an article in The Wall Street Journal, Sue Shellenbarger examined the world of uber-dedicated employees, those who soldier through cold and flu season, and seem impervious to family emergencies and personal catastrophes. Most of her interview subjects hadn't missed a day of work in more than two decades. One man, a 72 year-old service technician for a truck-leasing company, hadn't missed a day since before 1966.

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Ms. Shellenbarger found they all have one thing in common: They love their jobs. Oh, and also, some of them hate the idea of breaking their perfect attendance streak.

Antonio de Sousa, a doorman at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Tampa, Fla., told Ms. Shellenbarger he once ran five miles (about eight kilometres) to make it to work on time when his car broke down off the side of a highway. His two children were miraculously born on his day off, after which he was back again on his regularly scheduled shift. He's kept a perfect attendance record for 26 years.

Elena Griffing, 85, who has worked various jobs at a hospital in Oakland, Calif., hasn't taken a sick day since 1948. She started out as a lab receptionist and now helps patients and guests find lost items. A few years ago, she got into a traffic accident when her car skidded into a ravine, but she nevertheless made it to work. When her boss persuaded her to go home, she accepted the time off as one of her vacation days. "I have a record to uphold here," Ms. Griffing told the newspaper.

Although fewer employers these days reward perfect attendance, some do offer substantial perks. Ed Batka, 59, an employee at Merle Norman Cosmetics in Los Angeles, said people often tease him about his perfect attendance record of 25 years. His response is: "You won't be laughing when I'm up there at the attendance awards, getting my gift." Last year, that gift was a free trip to Hawaii, Ms. Shellenbarger reports.

It's hard not to admire folks like Mr. de Sousa, Ms. Griffing and Mr. Batka for their dedication. But at the same time, their ability to work through anything can make the rest of us mortals feel unjustifiably wimpy for taking the occasional sick day. Some may also find the can-do-at-all-cost attitude can get just a wee bit grating.

What's the longest you've gone without taking an unscheduled day off?

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About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More

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