Congratulations! You just took the first step toward taking back your life, one unearned paid day off at a time. Whether you need time off to rage on your birthday or you’re forced to stay home and recover after attempting to reenact “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” your boss will never understand the concept of “me time.” You may think you got away with murder when you pulled that insanely clever diarrhea excuse out of your green top hat on St. Patrick’s Day, but I’m here to tell you that your poorly planned rookie move probably cost you the raise you may have otherwise deserved. Meanwhile, I’ve consistently validated my expertise by treating myself to weeks of unearned paid days off in between promotions on a yearly basis. This is why I have taken the time to prepare five tried and true rules that I personally live by to guide you on your quest to office freedom through the combination of honesty, lies, and mostly cold-hearted deception. I could easily give you a list of excuses and tell you to pick out your favorite one, but this isn’t “The Beginners Guide To Getting Out Of Work.” This article is for closers only, so PUT. THAT COFFEE. DOWN.
Rule 1: Always Have A Plan
We all make plans on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s as simple as where to meet after work for happy hour or as complex as planning a legendary bachelor or bachelorette party. Regardless of magnitude, it’s safe to say that last-minute planning usually leads to failure. This begs the question, “Do you have an execution plan for the next time you would rather be on the receiving end of a hot carl from the girl who played ‘Precious’ than force yourself to enter the office through the literal gates of hell?”
The most efficient way to pave your path to freedom is to plan for the entire year in advance and make sure your unearned days don’t coincide with hard-earned, paid vacations. If you have a day that you’re certain you will not be gracing your coworkers with your presence, it’s imperative that you be ready–and I don’t mean simply having an idea of what you’re going to say. There was literally only one single time in college (and maybe my life) when I felt fully prepared for an exam, and I can still remember how bulletproof I felt. I like to harness that cocksure feeling and use it as the standard for knowing when I’m primed and ready to confront my boss, as well as for my aspirations in a Mexican standoff.
My favorite method for preparation is a childhood classic. Use the five Ws (who, what, when, where, and why) followed by how you plan on following through with the perfect delivery to ensure you don’t leave a single stone unturned. Always map out the days leading up to, as well as after, your “time off” as these days are often overlooked yet equally important when developing a polished strategy. You’ll also need a list of well-planned alibis for those all too familiar unplanned days when you would rather get dysentery and die than be in the office. For example, if you were too hungover to work once a month last year, I would strongly suggest comprising a list of 24 foolproof plans and narrow those down to your favorite 12. By now, you’re starting to understand this is more complex than having a great excuse–it’s a lifestyle that can offer limitless rewards through dedication to your craft.
Rule 2: Work When You’re Sick
There’s no better way to throw your boss a curveball than by showing up for work when you should really be on your deathbed. If your boss sees your willingness to work with symptoms strikingly similar to Ebola and you can muster up the energy to give an Oscar-worthy performance in front of the entire office explaining why you have to stay and finish your TPS reports, odds are, your boss won’t think twice the next time you call in sick. When you’re actually sick enough to offend anybody with your condition, you’ve hit the jackpot. It sucks ass to be anywhere when you’re down with Montezuma’s revenge, so why waste your highly contagious Barry White voice and multiple trips to the shitter by taking a real sick day just to lie in bed at home? Go into the office and blow your boss away by your inconceivable work ethic. Force your boss to force you to go home and you will become the most powerful person in the office.
Rule 3: Practice Makes Perfect
In order to truly master these concepts, like anything worth doing right, you have to practice. Take notes immediately after executing each plan and analyze your performance. Think about what you did right and what you did wrong while considering possible improvements. Don’t be afraid to write down your boss’s left-field response to the enormous tapeworm your doctor just discovered if you were caught off-guard and slower to counter than you should have. This is no different than watching game footage. A professional athlete doesn’t sit around between games, so what makes you think you can hone your skills without putting in a little time and effort? Self-assessment will only enhance your ability to perform at the highest level on game day against your boss.
Rule 4: Go Big And Go Home
Nothing can get you out of work like a real life situation. You’re most believable when you aren’t thinking about getting fired. Think about the times you’ve had to miss work or school for things that actually happened to you or someone you know, and never be afraid to go too big. I’ll never forget the first time I used my gift to get out of preschool. I remember convincing the old bag in charge that the older kids were kicking my ass during playtime so I could go home and watch “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” This is my first recollection of not giving a shit about anyone but me. There are certain times that my conscience has eaten me alive, but for some reason, falsely implicating these older preschool douchebags for picking on a younger kid was never something I let bother me. This brings me to probably the most important yet controversial aspect of my system. Don’t feel like you’re the only one who’s willing to make up an excuse that might earn you a one-way ticket straight to hell. Remember last month when the quiet girl in the cubicle next to you sent an email to everyone in the office asking for prayers for her dear aunt Betty who’s still in a coma after suffering a major stroke? That quiet girl who sits next to you is fucking good at this, and she was willing to go big in exchange for a week of getting hammered and having the time of her life in Cabo. Keep your eye on her and take notes. She’s probably quiet because she never breaks rule five.
Rule 5: Keep Your Mouth Shut
I can’t stress enough the importance of never telling a single soul about your scandalous behavior. Everybody at the office gets the same story your boss gets. The key to longevity and continued success in this game is consistency and secrecy. Even bragging to an old college buddy who lives halfway around the world about your achievements could tarnish your reputation at the office as the guy who can’t catch a break. Never put yourself in the position that forces you to leave a trail of crocodile tears.
Look, I know these rules aren’t for everybody. Hell, they may just be for me. However, I can guarantee you that following these simple, golden rules will keep you out of trouble with your boss whether you take four hours or four weeks of “me time” every year. If you’re like me and feel that you’re deserving of the latter, consider this advice an investment in irreplaceable time. It’s like getting in on sunlight before there was fucking sunlight. Soon you’ll find yourself owning a second phone, maintaining multiple email addresses, and printing your own doctor’s notes with a link to a fake doctor’s website you purchased and built on GoDaddy.com. In the words of the great George Costanza, “it’s not a lie if you believe it.”