Today, probably as a result of karmic retribution for my standard terrible behavior, I woke up sick. Normally, this is enough to turn me into a whining baby where I demand soup and just generally act like I have Malaria instead of the common cold. However, this week is especially bad timing because due to some poor scheduling between my two jobs, I have a 56-hour workweek with a 19-hour workday on Thursday. I have a well-tested formula to decide whether or not to call in sick that I will be using, and if any of you are in my same predicament, feel free to use it as well.
You should use a sick day if…
You have any illness that required you to go to the hospital/ER.
If you went to the ER, even for something that turned out to be not that serious, that means that you had to spend 4-8 hours in that nightmare of a building, and you deserve to take a sick day. No boss on earth is going to call you out on faking if you have a hospital wristband and/or paperwork, so use this gimme to your advantage.
You look/sound contagious.
If you are hacking up a lung like you were ripping heaters all night (which you may have been) or your nose has turned into the world’s most disgusting faucet, stay the fuck home. No one wants you to “power through it” by bringing your banned-by-the-Geneva-Convention, biological-warfare-looking ass into work. Your boss would rather lose one cog in the machine than the whole transmission if you get your department sick.
It’s a Friday.
Whether you had the misfortune of catching a virus right before your weekend or if your Thursday happy hour went off the rails the night before, no one really cares if you’re out on Friday. Your boss may or may not even be in the office, and company-wide productivity is at its lowest point of the week. Plus, you can talk about how sick you were all weekend and garner some sympathy come Monday.
You’re still drunk from the night before.
Let me be clear, you should absolutely power through a hangover if you can and save your sick days for when you’re actually sick. However, if you lost your balance twice in the shower and only remembered to shave half your face while getting ready, you should stay home and sleep this one off. The only thing worse than your boss thinking you’re taking a sick day because you’re hungover is them actually smelling alcohol on you while at work. One may get you passed over for a promotion; the other will get you fired.
It’s a toss-up if…
You have a crippling hangover.
Again, if you think you can power through it, you should. You’ll thank yourself when you make it to 3 p.m. and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, if you know for a fact you’ll only hurt your reputation/may throw up during a client meeting, stay in bed with Pedialite and Chipotle until you return to life.
You have a cold.
This all depends on how your body reacts to the virus/what your company’s culture is about working sick. My colds last almost a full week and are usually paired with a sinus infection (I broke my nose running from the cops in college and my sinuses never healed right), so I usually opt to stay home and whine for a few days. However, if you’re one of those people whose colds consist of some adorable sneezes and maybe a slightly red nose, I hate you and you should go to work. If coming into work with a cold is seen in a positive light, absolutely ham it up and take an easy day of half-assing it while your boss praises you for your “strong work ethic.”
However, if your boss hates people coming in sick because they have the immune system of a preemie baby, don’t set foot in the office. The last thing you want is to work while feeling like shit and not even get brownie points for it.
Don’t take a sick day if…
It’s a Monday, or the day following a big drinking day.
This includes the Tuesday after a long weekend, the day after your birthday, or any day after your city wins a sports championship. Even if you legitimately have a 104 degree fever on the day after Super Bowl Sunday, no one will believe you if you take a sick day. It’s better to come in for a few hours and get sent home because your boss is concerned you’ll actually die in your cube than take a sick day and have everyone assume you’re just a hungover bitch. I’ve had managers tell me I was “getting a lot of Monday illnesses” in a passive-aggressive tone, and it made me realize how much of a stigma is attached to those sick days.
You’re just tired/have a sore throat/are contemplating the meaningless of life in the morning.
Look, I get it. We’ve all been there. Your iPhone alarm goes off after what feels like 30 seconds of sleep and you start weighing the pros and cons of taking a sick day. Yes, it may damage your reputation with your company and put you off track for a promotion or a raise. Hell, depending on how many you’ve taken it may even lose you your job. But at 6:09 a.m. (you snoozed once), even all those cons seem to be overweighed by “literally just one more hour of fucking sleep.” It’s never worth it. If you force your broken body out of bed and into the shower, by the time you step out you’ll know you should go in to work.
You went out with your boss last night.
You may think that because you and your boss are tight enough to go hard on a weeknight that you’ll be fine to take a “personal hangover day,” but you’d be dead wrong. If your boss is at work, you definitely need to be at work. Being able to tie one on together and make it through a workday afterwards is a bond that no amount of office politics can replicate. You don’t even have to be a good employee, your boss knows you we’re hammering tequila shots at six hours before so they don’t expect that. They just want you to look presentable and have the backbone to make it in to work. Don’t fail that test. .
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