Read an Excerpt
The Sick Day Handbook
Strategies and Techniques for Faking It
By Ellie Bishop
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2006 Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC
All rights reserved.
THE BASICS Get Fake Sick Or What to Catch and How to Talk About It
If any of this is going to work, there's some stage setting that has to go on well in advance of you even trying to phone in sick when you're not. I didn't say this was going to be easy. If you're interested in weaving a credible coat of lies, you have to put in the hard work before you drop the big lie. Otherwise, nothing you say will be believable; everyone will see you for the giant, hideous fraud that you are, and you'll get fired.
The number one rule of lying is to remember your lie and everything that came before it. If you are a pathological liar, this is easy because when you lie, you actually believe that what you're saying is true. But if you're like most of us, you drop a few little lies here and there and forget, and when push comes to shove, you spout the truth. KNOCK IT OFF. You must be faithful to your lies, even under duress.
The number one rule of lying is to remember your lie and everything that came before it.
If your boss calls you on your lies and has the nerve to say, "You're lying!" or, worse, "You're a liar (gasp)!" you must be prepared to back up your lies with more lies that reconfirm them while also appearing emotionally injured by said accuser. You need anecdotal evidence. Create stories that center around your lies. Remember things such as time of day or temperature or how the sun was positioned in the sky or whether or not it was raining. If there was music with your lie, even better. Never contradict your lies. Other people remember your lies, particularly if they led you to not be at work. You should have a little respect and remember them too.
Now, on to setting the stage for your deceit ... this needs to start as soon as you begin employment at your office and is best done by falsifying some information about your health.
If you've already worked some place for say, 755 million years and are what we would call "the office dinosaur," chances are you've done some of this leg work. If you haven't, don't fret, Dino—some of this work can be done right now. Plus, you've been there the longest. You own the office. You don't owe anyone anything.
As soon as you have read this chapter, put down the book and begin. Quit making excuses. Pick an illness. Get to work on your big Technicolor coat of deceit and get on with your happy life.
Illnesses that make calling in sick easier (plus some information to accompany your story–medications named where necessary)
If claiming migraines, you must know which kind you have. There are two main kinds—cluster and classic. Cluster is when the migraine is on one side of your head. Classic presents all over your whole big giant FAKE head. Also, if you suffer migraines, you must be on prescription medication. Here are some medications that one who experiences migraines would take: Esgic, Imitrex, Darvocet.
These rock because they can cause any number of problems, including:
Stomach illness because all of your allergy snot drained down the back of your throat into your poor fragile stomach causing you to barf.
Making your throat so sore, you are forced to down tea with honey all day long.
Your lips swelling up into huge balloons that you couldn't possibly bring into work.
A word to the wise: Don't overdo it and be allergic to everything. Pick a season or food group. If you pick the former, be able to specify your triggers (pollen, mold, elderweed, etc. What's elderweed? WHO THE HELL KNOWS!). Rubbing your eyes for five minutes in the bathroom after you've slathered your fingertips in onions will help intensify your seasonal allergy symptoms. If you pick food allergies, pick ones that commonly go together. For instance, a shellfish allergy commonly goes with an allergy to strawberries. Why do I say this? Because my stepfather is allergic to both, so I assume everyone else is as well. However, someone is not likely to be allergic to "all vegetables" or some such nonsense as that. Don't be one of those allergic freaks who only eats rice. No one will buy it and they'll out you for the drama queen you are.
Some common seasonal allergy medications (just watch TV for an hour to find out more if this list won't suffice) include: Claritin, Flonase, Alavert, Allegra. If you're a big allergy snotbox, add a "D" to the end of these drugs and it means "with decongestant." If you suffer food allergies or allergies to bees or anything that is deadly and causes your throat to swell up, you own an EpiPen. You should carry it with you everywhere.
This requires purchasing some inhalers that you will need to strategically place about your office space and whip out during very public moments, such as company-wide meetings. Inhalers can be purchased over the counter. If you have a friend with asthma and he can let you have one of his more official-looking ones, all the better. Some notes on asthma: attacks often strike at around 3 or 4 A.M. when the body is at its fullest rest. There are medical reasons for this that I'm sure you can read about somewhere but not here. Every asthma attack kills brain cells. Allergies can make asthma worse. City air can make asthma worse. Some medication names for asthma sufferers include: Singulair, a nebulizer (more a device than a medicine), albuterol inhaler (the most common inhaler).
One of the major symptoms of this biggie is fatigue. Others are joint pain and swelling. These can be hard to prove so you should stay home and take methotrexate, Imuran, Cytoxan, Arava, Enbrel, Humira, Kineret.
Another big fatigue ailment. This one causes profound fatigue. You're going to have to fake some sort of outdoor excursion whereby you were bitten by a tick. It's worth it though, as another symptom is irritability. Any excuse to be mean to your coworkers ...
This is also known as eye crud—NO ONE wants someone with runny scabby eyes to come into work. Good news: Conjunctivitis can last for up to a week! Bad news: It can be caused by STDs. Anyone who does a Google search on it will be able to find that out. Good news: If you don't give a hoot about what your office mates think of you, being thought of as having an STD in your eye can make you "dirty" and it can mean that no one will bother you because they are afraid your eye-STD will work its way to their eyes.
This has a longer name: Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV for short). This can make you feel crappy while lying in bed so imagine how bad you would feel if you had to go to work? And also, you could fall down, and no employer wants you falling down on their watch (particularly if you work in an old building and have to take four flights of stairs up to your office, cough, cough).
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
This is when three of the five fingers on either or both of your hands are numb. More importantly, this condition prevents you from doing things such as typing, answering the phone, filing, packaging things, driving, etc. If these activities all seem related to your job, guess what? They are. If numbness and pain in your first two fingers and your thumb seem like symptoms that can be caused by your job (if you type or are, say, a professional piano player), you're right! Bingo. Blame your job for your pain and presto: Time off.
I fully believe CTS was invented by people who were sick of their office jobs and needed a reason to phone in sick ... brilliant that they convinced doctors to create surgeries to correct the problem. Can anyone say, "Short Term Disability?"
Also, this is possibly the only fake-able disorder that you can blame on work! The beauty of this is indescribable. Home treatments are mandatory at first. By home treatments, one would have to assume they mean staying home!
Irritable bowel syndrome
This is the MAMA of all excuses. Nobody at work wants to hear about your bowel troubles and if you find someone who does, you should immediately stop associating with them as they are probably sick-day fakers as well, and two sick-day fakers do not one honest man or woman make. Symptoms of the above are either diarrhea or constipation. Take your pick. The former is a better reason for calling in sick. Call in and mention an IBS flareup. No one will ask you a thing. This is a great illness for women as some insanely high percentage of us are afflicted with it.
The symptoms of this may be even worse than irritable bowel syndrome. And they are easy to fake. They are also gross to talk about and are, generally, not fit for office conversation.
Basically this means you snore a lot and so horrendously that you do not get a full night's sleep and on occasion, you nearly die by choking. A night of bad sleep apnea definitely warrants a day off. Coincidentally, if you are married to someone with sleep apnea, you are also known as a poor tortured soul who never gets sleep and who is on the brink of strangling your bedfellow with the down comforter. You can possibly also get away with a constant string of complaints about your snoring, nearly choking bedmate that would, ultimately, warrant a "sick day."
WHO ARE THE People in Your Neighborhood? People and Instances That Make Calling In Sick Easier
If you have any of the following in your life, I'm very sorry. But listen, quit moping about it and use the situation to your advantage. If you don't have any of them in your life, you can invent them, well, most of them. If you plan to create imaginary people, you need to know that you cannot get close to anyone in your office or else they will ask to come to your house to meet the people in your life and if those people are figments of your twisted, bitter imagination, obviously, they won't be there.
Elderly or sick someone or other for whom you have power of attorney or sole responsibility
This person requires frequent visits to various medical professionals. Also, the people in your office will view you as a bit of a martyr because you are young, healthy, and offering up your time to someone who can't help themselves. Do a bit of research on geriatric care to find out what sorts of appointments this person needs. Have a name. A distinct relationship. Details of said person's home and life. A word to the wise: Don't fabricate an elderly person for whom you care. This can get too messy. If you happen to have a great-great-uncle in the area for whom you occasionally cook meals or drive to various appointments, this is great. Run with it. Exaggerate. If you really do take full-time care of an elderly or infirmed individual ... you're a saint. We need people like you. You definitely deserve as much time off as you can possibly beg.
This is like having a child but better because dysfunctional children have to go to a plethora of doctors before receiving a diagnosis and you get to skip out on work to accompany them.
Abusive or negligent landlord
By this I mean a landlord who illegally enters your apartment and forces you to phone the police, or one who is so incompetent and who owns a building in such disrepair that you are forced to take sick time to deal with the constant stream of repair people coming through.
Ill or elderly pet (only works if your boss has a pet)
Cupcake has a kidney infection? Instant sick day. You can't be expected to take vacation or personal days for things related to anyone's health.
Childbearing woman to whom you are in any way related (only works once a year)
Oops! Mary had her baby. Gotta run.
Unreliable mode of transportation
Note: this won't work if you take public transport—I don't advise saying the train "crashed" or "broke down" on your commute as you might have to prove it. But if your car is constantly in the shop ... fabulous. Mark it on your sick time.
Be creative. A pest problem in your house? BINGO! My cousin lives in an old house that has a bat problem. She suspects some of the bats have rabies. Rabies freaks people out. You can pretty much take as many days as you need to undergo rabies testing. Mention bats, whisper rabies. You are good to go. Mind you, she philosophizes that the bats in her house have rabies because they sometimes fly around during the daytime and what bat in his right mind goes for a little fly during broad daylight? Exactly. Feel free to draw scientific conclusions without actual evidence or expertise. This is the mark of a decent liar. Have confidence in whatever you are saying and I guarantee you, others will too!
However, a second job you're forced to get because you get paid so little? Not so good. Maybe it's an excuse to leave early but it's never an excuse to miss a whole day.
Feel free to draw scientific conclusions without actual evidence or expertise. This is the mark of a decent liar. Have confidence in whatever you are saying and I guarantee you, others will too!
Think about every angle of your personally created excuse and think about every possible argument someone could bring against it. Closing on your new house? You're going to have to take some personal time. No one feels badly for you because you bought a house. They're jealous. Leaving early to pick the paint color for your drawing room? Cry me a river. Come up with something that will make people feel slightly sorry for you. Don't come up with something that people will hate you for. Also, and this goes without saying, don't be pulling fake sick days every other week. Running off to a doctor's appointment every third Thursday? We're on to you. You're a slacker and your whole office knows it. Document your behavior. Take stock of your actions and try to see them from your colleagues' perspectives. If you suspect you're suspicious, you are!
Mental HEALTH (or Lack Thereof) Days
For these sorts of days you need to start laying the groundwork a week or more in advance. You can't use the illness with which you are afflicted for this call in. You need to create some major drama over the course of several days.
Preparation techniques for a mental health day:
Practice a very blank stare while sitting in meetings. Act scattered. Swear at the copier. Make it look like you're working hard but mutter under your breath every hour or so, "I'm losing it. I'm really losing it...."
Tease your hair in odd places, such as directly above your right ear. This helps you to appear mildly crazy. This is best achieved with a special teasing comb, available for purchase at CVS, Walgreens, and similar retailers.
Sigh loudly and often
On the day preceding the mental health day, wear your shirt inside out and leave one shoe untied. If you're an eccentric sort (and inclined to wear your clothing inside out or appear disheveled on a regular basis), you might have to take this a bit further by wearing two different shoes. If someone comments, don't laugh and say, "My goodness. How could I have done that?" Instead, look mildly confused as if you are not even aware you're supposed to wear a) clothing in a particular way or b) matching shoes. Then say, "Maybe I AM losing it," with the emphasis on "AM" so they recall how you've been muttering all week long that you could be losing it.
At lunchtime, take your teasing comb to the bathroom and tease another spot on your head. This will really make people wonder.
Keep up this behavior until you hear people whispering in small groups when you walk by. This is simply prepping them for your day off and making it believable.
If you're believable enough, your boss will suggest you take a day away without you even having to call in. Your boss will actually GIVE you a free day in the hopes of avoiding a major and very public nervous breakdown that threatens to affect company-wide productivity.
You can consider this week of dramatic prepping a favor to your colleagues and yourself. Everyone will congratulate you for taking time for yourself. They'll think you deserve it. You might not even have to mark your time sheet. If you're believable enough, your boss will suggest you take a day away without you even having to call in. Your boss will actually GIVE you a free day in the hopes of avoiding a major and very public nervous breakdown that threatens to affect company-wide productivity.
Excerpted from The Sick Day Handbook by Ellie Bishop. Copyright © 2006 Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
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