Today is disgusting. When I woke up in my warm bed this morning I thought, "I am definitely calling in sick." But here I am. Why? Because it would violate the rules for getting away with this sort of thing.
Let's get one thing straight: everyone calls in sick to work when they're not really sick. Whether it's from laziness, hangover, weather-related malaise, or just something you'd rather be doing than sitting at a blue carpet-lined cube for eight hours pretending to work while you surf the internet, everyone has fudged an illness for a "mental health day." This is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, but it's still frowned upon by your boss, that uptight prig in HR, and that scary lady in accounting who hasn't missed a day in 23 years. That's why we've come up with a set of rules to help you get away with selecting your "sick" day. May you enjoy it in good health.
Mondays and Fridays Are Off Limits: This is why we didn't call in today. Since both days abut the weekend, you're sending red flags by making the call to freedom on either day. Friday it seems like you're trying to get out of town early to go away, and on Monday it looks you partied too hard over the weekend and need an extra day to recover. You already have a reputation for being a booze hound thanks to your disgraceful behavior at the office Christmas party, so calling in on a Monday is just going to make you look like a full-fledged alcoholic.
Don't Ever Say You Have Food Poisoning: "Food poisoning" is to office call-outs as "exhaustion" is to celebrity break downs. Everyone says they feel bad for you, but they don't buy it for a second. The downfall of food poisoning is that it really is the perfect excuse because it is random, short-lived, and everyone who eats Chinese food gets it eventually. That's why the "some undercooked chicken" line has been used to death. Instead, go for strep throat. It comes on just as quickly and it's contagious so you can use the "I'm going to the doctor today, but i don't want to get anyone else sick" approach. Of course, when you get back to work, it was just a cold. And, yes, ladies, if you have a male supervisor the "time of the month" trick still works.
Wait for the Second Nice Day: When we finally reach spring, there is going to be that first day when it's 65 degrees, the sun is shining, and everyone wants to put on their shorts and take a day off. Don't you dare! Calling in on this day is as obvious as Ted Danson's toupee. A bunch of suckers are going to do it anyway, and then you can give them the stink eye and feel superior at the office. Don't worry, there will be another 65-degree day, and once everyone has gotten it out of their system you'll be able to work on your tan without an ounce of guilt—or crowds at the park.
Use a Big Meeting as Cover: Well, not a career-changing meeting that you're running, of course, but a big meeting that you should attend but don't really want to. That way when you have "kidney stones" (yeah, you're going to have to pull out the big guns for this to work) no one is going to think you're faking, because if you're going to miss the meeting, then you must really be ill.
Don't Waste It on Snow Days: When the weather is really nasty, the first response is to behave like an eight-year-old, declare a snow day, and spend all day watching The Price Is Right and sledding in the back yard. This is a waste. Instead, use another grammar school trick and take a "90-minute delay." Call with some drama about how your road isn't plowed yet and take your time getting in. Once you're there, you'll look like a real trouper for braving the elements to get to work. Then, at the office, everyone is going to be so thrown off by the snow that no real work is going to get done anyway. Kick off your galoshes, and put your feet up. Yeah, you had to go in, but you didn't have to do shit.
When the Boss Is Away: This gambit could go either way. When your boss is on vacation is really the ideal time to take a day off. He's not there to catch you, and little work is getting done. However, there is little work getting done, so why take the day off? Also, if something drastic does happen and you're not there, then this could really blow up in your face. Rather than actually calling in sick, make this a "work from home" day. Yeah, we all know that "work from home" really means loosely monitoring your Blackberry for a catastrophe while inviting over dates from Craigslist, but no one is going to blame you while the fat cat is away.
Never, Ever Use a Sick Day When You're Actually Sick: Your sick days are five windows of unexpected freedom from the dim dungeon that is your professional career. They should be used for couch lounging, pool swimming, bike riding, and general merriment making, not actually holed up with the fever and the sniffles. Sure, if you get the Swine Flu or something truly debilitating, you're going to have to stay at home, but otherwise just work through it. You're already miserable, you might as well double up and be miserable at work. Save your sick days for when you can enjoy them!