(Top photo: Henri Bergius, via)
Apparently today is "National Sickie Day" in the UK. Reason being: the first Monday of February tends to be the most popular day of the year to call in sick, with an estimated 350,000 people expected to skip work today. There are a few reasons for this, and most involve booze; either you just got paid for the first time since Christmas so spent half of it on alcohol, or you realized Dry January was over and decided to unwind all the good you did for your liver over the past month.
Either way, you'll have had to come up with an excuse as to why you're not currently at your desk. Here are some of the worst excuses we've used over the years.
ONLY LIE IF YOU WORK FOR A PRICK
I could never feel guilty about this because my manager was a manipulative little swine who refused to see a world beyond the confines of the shop he had control over. It was my second year of university and I had exams to do. When the exam timetable came out, he deliberately put me on my exact dates. Of course he did. I confronted him and he held his hands up, saying, "We can't all work around your extracurricular activities" – i.e. my degree – and refused to budge.
That week I contracted a mysterious illness that came on slowly with headaches and a hacking cough, and ended with me falling up stock room stairs and wearing no make-up, because men tend to think no make-up means you're deathly ill. On the day before my first exam I didn't come in, to make it only slightly more believable. I told my boss I was being sick from both ends to trump whatever he could possibly say, and carried on not coming in until that week of exams was done. I then had to tell him I'd been too sick to do my exams, which kickstarted a whole new web of lies that I had to tussle my way out of. Bottom line: don't lie unless you work for a prick.
RELENTLESS LATE MORNINGS
In my last job – which was really cushy and in a nice part of town with loads of nice food, surrounded by colleagues I liked and who liked me back – I couldn't resist taking the absolute fucking piss at all times of day with every part of my life. I was meant to start work at 10AM every day, but I managed to whittle that down to 11AM by sheer force of willful laziness. On one occasion I was two-and-a-half hours late for work because it was raining heavily and I didn't want to walk to the station. As you can imagine, it wasn't soon after this that I was terminated as an employee. As I was getting fired all I could do was nod my head and go, "Yeah, fair fucks – I wouldn't keep me on if I was you." I'm a real fucking idiot sometimes.
I have pretty much never pulled a work sickie, but at school I'd take at least two days off a week because it was shit. In sixth form, though, I still wanted my EMA, which you would lose if you were off, unless you had an ongoing condition or a note from your parents. I decided I was really going to suffer from my long-dormant childhood asthma for those two years. Just relentless asthma for 40 percent of the week. I'm better now, thanks.
EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR
I've never pulled a sickie because I have this weird pathological Catholic guilt-esque thing about work, and the attendance thereof, which means that even when I am legitimately ill – a thing I try extremely hard to avoid, with great sour honks of First Defence and a strict Berocca regimen as soon as I feel a throat tickle, and with fruit juice and water and regularly hand sanitizing my hands, and by not touching my nose or mouth idly and trying not to travel on steamy, germ-ridden buses and trains – even when I am off work, ill, I feel incredibly bad and awful about it, and I cannot adequately settle down and enjoy being ill, be embraced by it. Because there is something soul-soothing about absolutely wallowing in your pathetic-ness, isn't there, and doing tiny little coughs into your hand and making your housemate make you tea, and lying prone on the sofa with loads of cushions and pillows and a big duvet, your legs all warm, and watching, like, three films in one day on Netflix – maybe four.
But I cannot enjoy that, because of the aforementioned guilt. Which is absolute bullshit, quite frankly, and a peek at the hubris and ego that engulfs me at any one time. What – I believe the world will stop turning if I don't go into work for one day? Okay, I'm re-submitting my answer: the best excuse for pulling a sickie I have ever given is this paragraph of text, and I will be taking my sickie tomorrow, and I hope my line manager – who has to edit this! – enjoys being one down tomorrow, because I'm not coming in. See you on Wednesday, Jamie.
DON'T SKIP YOUR DELIVERY JOB
I used to regularly skip shifts as a Domino's delivery driver, which in retrospect was a huge mistake because it's easily the best job I've ever had. Imagine, aged 17, being paid £6 an hour (and £1 every delivery!) to drive around with your friends, listen to terrible drum 'n' bass and sometimes eat the cold BBQ-base-tuna pizza someone had ordered as a joke. For free!
Anyway, some excuses ranked in no particular order:
- I had norovirus roughly 14 times in one year (lie).
- I got a penny stuck behind the horn bit of my steering wheel and the horn wouldn't stop beeping (lie).
- I'd broken my ankle and couldn't drive (lie, and bizarrely nobody challenged me when I came in the next week with both ankles in perfect working order).
- I regularly had to wait for a plumber because my mum was at work (mostly lies).
Not proud of any of those, except for the horn one because it is an objectively well-formed piece of deception.
DESTROY ALL JOBS SMASH THE ECONOMY
Working long hours is almost as bad for you as smoking: people who work long hours have a 40 percent increased risk of coronary heart disease. Work makes you ill and every day spent hunched over a desk getting screen glare is a day of sickness.
In that context, "pulling a sickie" is less a mischievous excuse to lounge about than it is a necessary defense against the violent, stressful boredom that is being at work. That being the case, coming up with a reason not to go should become a whole lot easier. And really, we all know that spending hours coming up with a novel and convincing illness is really a method of convincing yourself not to feel guilty.
ANTI SICK DAY
I don't know if I've even taken a legitimate sick day ever, never mind pulled a sickie. But once, on a flight to Buenos Aries when I was 18, I remember getting sicker and sicker. I had a stopover in Rio, and by that point I was just a shivering, feverish mess, sprawled on the floor of the airport. I somehow managed to get on the connecting flight, and just as we landed I was handed a form with a list of symptoms and tick-boxes. This was the height of the swine flu scare and people were being quarantined at airports, not being allowed out for weeks. I looked at the form – fever, shakes, snot, headache – and had every single thing listed, but I was damned if I was going to spend two weeks with other sick fucks in quarantine. So I just ticked "no symptoms" and strolled through into Buenos Aries, where I spent the next week in bed.
FAIR FUCKS TBH
When I was a teenager I worked in a bakery. Not in a lush French way, selling baguettes and croissants and coffee. I worked "upstairs" in a grotty little chain shop making sandwiches. I started at 7AM on a Saturday, which meant that I had mostly not been to bed and still smelled like cranberry Archers' Aqua. I'd stand at a worktop, spreading tubs and tubs of margarine onto white sliced with my clammy little hands. I'd work through packets of pre-sliced cheese and ham; mix up vats of tuna mayo. The eggs came around an hour into my shift.
Obviously, the eggs in mass produced sandwiches are not fresh. They come in a bucket, inside of which is a big blue sac. You untie the sac and there are the eggs – gliding along, placid, serene, in fluid that smells exactly like 100 eggs floating in preservative. This Saturday was a bad hangover. I could smell the egg juice. I barely knew what I was doing when I literally threw myself to the floor in a fake collapse that left my colleague screaming for the manager. They sent me home in a cab and gave me the whole weekend off.