Have you played hooky from work? Maybe you called in sick when you were really healthy and wanted to spend a day away from the job. I’m not talking about people who come down with a case of the “brown bottle flu”; that’s a serious problem that needs consultation with a professional counselor. I’m thinking of those times when you’re feeling burned out or stressed about work and just need a breather.
One of the few times I ever skipped work seemed legitimate to me. I had worked three full weeks without a weekend nor a day off. The company had failed to hire any part time announcers to fill in on weekends or sick days. My shift, the graveyard shift, was the one most reliant upon part timers. Plus, I had requested a day off to recharge. The general manager said he would arrange for that to happen when a new part timer was hired and trained.
This was unacceptable. I honestly needed a break, but a legitimate one was nowhere in sight. It was either play hooky or quit the job. So, I called the program director, my immediate supervisor, and said I needed to claim a sick day. He wasn’t happy about it but assured me that he would reassign shifts for the day.
There was a delicious Tom Sawyer quality about that day. I didn’t even go to the gym or catch up on the chores that I usually do on days off. I slept an extra hour, then ordered a large pizza to be delivered. Favorite music was on the stereo, and a good book was near the easy chair. The day was spent exactly how I wanted to spend it. I felt no guilt because the day was really earned.
I returned to work the next day feeling fresh, energized, and happy. There was a storybook ending, too. The general manager prioritized the hiring of a new part time announcer. A new employee was found and I set about to train him. When the new part timer was ready to solo on the air, I was given a week off that did not count against earned vacation time.
This was a calculated gamble that actually paid off. I wish I hadn’t had to be dishonest about a sick day, but it seemed like I had been backed into a corner and was being taken advantage of. The day off felt like retribution. It was a small step in reclaiming some personal control over my life.
Staying home from work if you feel well is risky. I don’t recommend doing so carelessly. If a person must tell a lie in order to get a break from an oppressive work environment, one’s integrity will take a hit. Playing hooky carries with it a serious risk of getting in trouble with your company’s management and there’s the chance of losing your job.
Ideally, a person should be able to request a day away from the job then only pretend to play hooky. So, if you’re tempted to call in sick, be careful and use your best judgment.