It’s 7.30am on a Monday morning and you’ve just been woken by your alarm. The three glasses of wine you had last night have left you a bit fuzzy round the edges and you’ve a niggling pain in your left leg that wasn’t there when you went to sleep. Plus you’ve got an ever-growing collection of box sets that aren’t going to watch themselves.
There’s only one thing for it. You adopt your ‘sick voice’ and call work to say you won’t be in today.
If every health complaint was as self-evident as a broken limb or a septic boil the size of a grapefruit, validating your sickline would be a cut and dry matter.
However, there are many less obvious, but no less serious complaints, that aren’t as apparent to the naked eye.
Conditions like depression and stress don’t fall into the category of being ‘outwardly noticeable’ and as such they’re often given a wide berth. I’m not about to suggest people are jumping on the bandwagon, but all I will say is in recent years they’ve had to invest in three new bandwagons to cope with the rising number of passengers.
Two of the less popular, but by no means less effective, techniques employed when phoning in sick are bafflement and self-depreciation.
If in doubt, baffle your boss by quoting something obscure like a twisted vein, a swollen hip socket or a bruised mojo.
Better still, find out the Latin name for your condition to solidify your sickline. A bout of sciatica sounds infinitely better than a bad back.
If you choose to go down the avenue of self-depreciation then the trick is to make yourself a figure of ridicule so that your story is more likely to be believed.
For example, if you’re trying to convince your boss that you’re suffering from diarrhoea, don’t just say you’ve got diarrhoea. Support your case by assuming the role of fall guy and explaining in vivid detail how you woke in the night and accidentally redecorated your bedspread with a high-powered slurry jet.
Every coin has a flipside and while you’ve got people who find it second nature to phone in sick you’ve also got people who refuse to phone in sick even if their head is hanging off.
Even the act of declaring oneself sick is a double-edged sword.
If you claim to be sick having spent the preceding day persistently bemoaning your ill-health, then people will accuse you of forward-planning your bout of sickness.
On the other hand, if you call in sick without having given as much as a cough or a sneeze, people are quick to doubt your illness based on lack of evidence.
If anyone reading this has phoned in sick to work today with an elaborately orchestrated excuse, then shame, shame, shame on you.
On the other hand, if you’re genuinely sick, then get well soon.