Chucking a Sickie Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Chucking a Sickie

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In a world as diverse as ours it can be a comfort to know that there is at least one thing we all have in common. No matter how hard-working, how conscientious or how dedicated we are, there will come a day when, for whatever reason, we just can't face going to work. You could argue that you have worked so hard recently or have been under such stress that you simply need a rest, but expressing this thought in the open will get you nowhere. Alternatively you could go to the extreme of actually catching a disease or illness and being off work legitimately, but that's just silly. So what you do is you chuck a sickie1.

What Do You Do?

You phone your place of work and tell them that you're 'not coming in today because...' and you give a plausible, health-related reason why your bed is a better place for you to be at that time. How hard can that be? Simple but for one thing, they will not believe you. Herein lies the beauty of this ancient game. They don't believe you, but can't say so without accusing you of lying. You must use your skill and creativity to ensure that you are not caught out in the deception.


Do your homework. It is well worth knowing in advance exactly who you might have to deal with when you call and if necessary adjust either the time of your phone call or the number you dial. Failure to do this will almost certainly result in the phone being answered by the person you least want to speak to. Have your excuse prepared, including the answers to any questions you are likely to be asked. Don't fall for the oldest counter-sickie trick in the book, 'will you be in tomorrow?'. You just don't know for how long you're going to feel a bit 'sick' and two days can be more realistic than a sudden illness followed by an equally sudden recovery after all.

One technique that has been used to good effect is the 'pre-sickie', which, as its name implies, involves spending a little time laying the foundations for your coming sickie by developing a few symptoms a day or so in advance. The trick here is subtlety, less is quite often more. A few tissues scattered about the desk, paired with perhaps the smell of a hot lemon cold remedy will be more successful than spending the whole day telling everyone how bad you feel and will probably win you more sympathy too. An advanced version of this ploy involves faking injury rather than illness but although this can be successful it is much more difficult to be convincing and therefore should only be attempted by skilled actors. Do not overuse any variation of this technique!

Things to Remember When Phoning in Sick

  • First and foremost, they do not believe you!

  • Keep it simple.

  • If you must use elaborate stories. Keep notes! How many times can your auntie die?

  • It's better to phone in yourself than to get someone else to do it for you. You may otherwise return to work the next day to discover that you've just got over something very embarrassing.

Useful Tips

  • Be very wary of employing the 'multiple day severe cold' variety of sickie as this virtually guarantees that you will in fact catch a severe cold within days of your return to work.

  • Over-use of the pre-sickie or any other technique will seriously affect its chances of success.

  • Only an amateur gets caught shopping while chucking a sickie.

1To chuck, or pull a sickie is to take sick-leave for less than your employer might consider 'good reason'.

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