By Seni Tienabeso
TAMPA, Fla. - If you are reading this right now at work with a tissue by your side, sniffling, achy but with just enough energy to trudge along, here's some inspiration. Either that or you may find St. Petersburg resident Antonio de Sousa, 53, mildly annoying.
Every day for 26 years and six months de Sousa, 53, has put on his uniform - shorts, a tee-shirt and his smile and shown up for work every single day.
"I didn't realize I wasn't sick that long," says de Sousa. " I was shocked when I started thinking about it. But I love what I do."
De Sousa is a doorman for the Hyatt Regency in downtown Tampa. Whether rain or sleet - well it doesn't really sleet in Tampa so we will skip that and the snow part - or whatever the condition outside, no matter how he feels, he has never taken any of the sick days his job gives annually.
"I'm a very reliable person. Even if I'm sick, I just drink coffee and take medicine that night. I think it's because of the people I work around and people generally just cheer me up."
De Sousa says he has been healthy for as long as he can remember. Before moving to Tampa he lived in France and met his wife while she was doing missionary work there. When he married her, he came to the US to visit his ailing mother in-law and he never left. In France he never called out sick. He started a new streak with Hyatt that has spanned three decades.
"Even when I had my first job in France I didn't call in sick. I missed a day once because it snowed, but it wasn't my fault. I had to give my brother and sister a ride to work through the snow. I showed up to work about 90 minutes late, but my bosses were not there," he jokes.
He is the type of employee every boss wishes they had, and the type of co-worker everybody finds difficult to emulate.
His co-workers say he waves and smiles at everybody. They marvel at how he kept the streak going for so long.
"I don't know how he does it. Sure he may not get sick," says a colleague who didn't want to be identified. "But what about those days every so often when you just don't have it in you. He is always happy."
De Sousa admits the warm Florida weather has helped him continue his streak but he is not judgmental of others, including his two children who he say did stay home from school on occasion.
"Everybody is different. I wash my hands if I can every 30 minutes," he says. "I don't wait to get sick. I take one day at a time and everybody should too."
The average American calls in sick around three days a year, so don't feel so bad. If you are at work, and feeling a little down but you made it in anyway, congrats. Your streak is just beginning.