Can you use a day off from talk about retirement cuts, pay raise flaps, legislative horse-trading and internal bureaucratic squabbles? If so, consider this:

Mildred C. Parsons of the FBI's Washington field office is just days away from setting what has to be a government record: 45 years without taking any sick leave.

Folks at the office are hoping that she can make it until the 25th of this month without so much as a sniffle. Even if she gets a cold, or breaks an arm, they expect she will be on the job as she has every working day since September 1939.

Parsons, originally from Frederick, Md., is the secretary to the special agent in charge of the field office. She has worked for 18 or 19 of them. At this stage, who's keeping track?

What they have tracked -- and you better believe the FBI keeps good records -- is that she hasn't taken any sick leave in nearly half a century. One time she broke her arm at work. But she finished her tour of duty, got patched up that evening and was back on the job, bandages and all, the next day.

Next time you hear somebody making wisecracks about bureaucratic drones, ask them how many people in their agency or company have 45 years of sick leave stored up? If they doubt the story, tell them to take it up with the director of the FBI.

Tomorrow we will probably be back on the gloom and doom patrol. But for today, nice work, Mildred Parsons!