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Friday, November 23, 2012


I retired in 2008.  I often joke that I love retirement, but I do miss calling in sick.  This is not actually true.

I hated calling in sick.  Even when I was really sick I hated calling in sick.  When I called in sick I felt as if I was cheating my employer.  Oh I did call in sick even when I was not in fact sick; I was not a “hall monitor” in school,* but I hated to do it.

The worst part of calling in sick was when the boss answered.  I always hoped for his secretary…never happened…bosses know the ring…they know from the time of the ring…five minutes before start time, someone is calling in sick.  The boss never gave any sympathy when I called in sick.

“Hello Frank.”


“Ah it’s cough, cough Joe.  Ah, I’m, ah not feeling well, cough, got a fever and my chest is all clogged up.”


“I don’t think I should come in today.”

“Do you think you will able to come in tomorrow?”

“Ah, hack, cough, probably…I’ll try.”

“You do that…see you tomorrow.”

Damn I hated that call.  If I was at my death bed my boss would make me feel guilty.

I probably only called in sick two or three times a year, and one or two of those were legit.

Some people took full advantage of the sick day rules.  We were allowed five instances of sickness per year.  If you were out for three days you needed a doctor’s note before you could return to work.

We had some people that believed they were entitled to five instances of absence due to illness and if they were going to miss one day they might as well take two as that was still only one instance.  Some people with connections even took three or four days and came back with a doctor’s note.

These people always pissed me off.  I pretty much knew they were faking it. They would always be sick on a Monday or a Friday, or both.  Not only were they milking the system, but when they returned to work they expected everyone to smother them with sympathy.  Often they would call in sick on a day that we knew would be really busy and everyone else would have to work extra hard or late to make up for their absence.

And then the next day we had to ask:

“Oh, how are you feeling?”

“Oh yes, of course you couldn’t make it in, hope you’re feeling better.”

“Oh good thing you stayed home, you might have given that to us all.”

Well at least those with records of high absenteeism got poor reviews and were not chosen for promotions….NOT!!  Make that NO-to the fucking-NOT!!

I guess the executives figured anyone who did not know how to scam a system to its fullest extent could not be expected to lead.

I probably should have called in like this:

“Dude, its Joe.  Look I got a chance to play 18 today and I still have three more illness instances this year so…hey and I’m probably going to be bushed after golf so don’t expect me tomorrow.  I can get a doctor’s note for Wednesday if you’ll need it.”

“Oh that’s ok, I’m sure you could get a note…I’ll expect you on Thursday.  Come in my office at 9:00 I think you might be management material.

“Hmmm…9:00 might be tough, you know we have five minutes leeway before you can mark us as late…I’ll drop by at 9:05.”

“Damn…you’re good!  Don’t bother even seeing me, you’ve got the promotion.”

I never learned how to play the system.  Just thinking about it makes me sick.

Maybe I should call in…oh yeah.


*In the US, school “hall monitors” were “Goody Two-shoes.”**

**In the US, “goody two-shoes” were “brown nosers.”***

***In the US, “brown nosers” were “ass kissers.”****

****Oh come on…everyone knows what an “ass kisser” is!


  1. oh man, I was a lot like you. Hated calling in sick. Besides that, the lady we had to call in to, s.c.a.r.y. Hi Ruby, I won't be in today. I'm sick. Her reply, "well, do what you have to do". WTF, do what you have to do? Hated that.

  2. Being self empmloyed, there was no one for me to call in sick to. I just knew that whatever work I didn't get done today would catchup with me when I got back. Kinda took the fun out of being sick, if you know what I mean.

    On the other hand, when I everything lined up like I wanted, I could just not show for a day and didn't have to tell anyone squat. That was kinda nice. :)


  3. Yeah, when I was younger, I would take the occasional 'mental health' day, but only one, or at MOST two a year.

    My company gave us something like 20 sick days a year (I think it was designed to give us a month of being sick, before we got bounced over into the 'disability' system), but I found out what that really meant when I got my wisdom teeth out.

    It was a nightmare experience; I was originally scheduled to get al four of 'em out in one two-hour appointment. But when I was three hours into the process, and only had one side done, my dentist scheduled me another appointment a month later. And I was seriously knocked over for three days, both times. And at that, I still looked like Chucky Chipmunk for two days after I came back to work.

    So of course, my boss comes to me a month after that, with the mandatory letter from the personnel office, berating me for excessive sick days. I just looked at him, and said, "You know I had my wisdom teeth out, right?"

    "Well, the system gets triggered automatically whenever somebody uses more than five sick days in a year."

    "So - why do you give us 20 of 'em? I mean, sometimes, people really get sick. . ."

    "Yeah, sorry about that. . ."

    So, for the pleasure of getting my wisdom teeth out, I also got a turd in my personnel file. . . (*sigh*)

    Back in the day, when long-distance phone calls actually sounded like you were a long distance away, we used to joke about being Up North (say, on Opening Day of hunting season), and calling in, "(*crackle, pop*) Uh. . . hi, Joe. . . (*hiss, crackle*) I'm really not feeling too good today. . . (*snap, pop*). . ."

    Not, you know, that any of us ever actually did that. . .

  4. Hilarious posting! Years ago I managed a 7-11 I always thought I heard it all, until the next employee called off. Def enjoyed reading your posting! Hope you and your family had a great Turkey Day!

  5. You made me think of Phyllis Diller--she said her husband, Fang, used to call in DEAD!!

  6. Lol! No one likes calling in sick. At our work they made it so you can't text in or email that you won't be in, you have to call and talk to your supervisor. I think they believe that if you are willing to put up with the guilt trip, you deserve the day off.

  7. I hate people that do that! You know why cause I'm no good at that game either.

  8. "I guess the executives figured anyone who did not know how to scam a system to its fullest extent could not be expected to lead." Haha! SO true.

    I don't feel one bit guilty about my occasional mental health days. I work like a dog, have never been paid overtime ever in my career, and often have to work when I really am sick. And last year it took me until August to be able to take any vacation at all - and the "vacation" consisted of giving birth.

    Because you know, when you get promoted to middle management, they give you more vacation days as a joke that you don't get until you realize you can never use them. So yeah. Not one bit guilty at all.

  9. A little bitter maybe...but not guilty!

  10. A fun read. I've been self-employed most of my life so my boss was pretty easy on me when I was sick.

  11. Thanks for visiting my blog (A Bench with a View) and your kind comment.

    I have to say in the last six years since I've been employed by someone instead of being self employed, I haven't called in sick any time. I'm sure that has to do a lot with the fact that my kids are grown so the germs aren't coming in like when they were younger and the fact that I work at home (though on a time clock) so I'm not as exposed to the germ pool so to speak in an office setting. I do know when I was employed years ago in office settings I really tried to reduce calling in sick only if necessary and that's usually because I couldn't get away from the bathroom too much so I figured it was safer to stay home than venture to work.

    I do imagine it can be an abusive thing if one wants to have the advantage of a 3 day weekend or enjoying an outside activity on a sunny day.

    hoping the day was a nice one!