Playing hooky takes care, planning

By Helena Rodriguez: Local columnist

When it comes to playing hooky from work or school, the names of pros come to mind: Laverne & Shirley and Farris Bueller.

Granted these are fictional characters who went through more trouble than it was worth to treat themselves to a day off. I think we can all get away with playing hooky once in a great big while. I started thinking about the art of playing hooky the other day after reading an article on MSN.com titled “15 Excuses for Calling in Sick.”

While I don’t encourage playing hooky often, as in more than once a year, I’d be willing to bet that research would reveal numerous benefits to playing hooky on that really bad day when you just don’t want to get out of bed, that day when you’re not physically sick but your mind needs to recharge.

To successfully pull it off though, playing hooky requires grace (not too much coughing), good timing and a little planning.

Before I offer some tips, which I’m sure my editor does not condone, let me share some unusual or lame excuses bosses in this MSN.com story received from workers who couldn’t go to work. (I don’t recommend them):

1. I was abducted by aliens.

2. I’m too drunk to work.

3. I had to help deliver a baby on the way to work.

4. God didn’t wake me (this person didn’t believe in alarm clocks).

5. I cut my fingernails too short. They’re bleeding and I have to go to the doctor.

6. I forgot I was getting married today.

7. My house lock jammed and I’m locked in.

Now as I offer my tips, bear in mind I’m not trying to get anyone fired. It just so happens that I don’t have a real job right now, although I plan to some day, a job which I will take very seriously and in which I vow to choose my hooky days carefully.

I must interject here though that during my previous life as a newspaper reporter, I often had to have hooky days because nine times out of 10, I ended up working on those days when I really was sick, I mean deathly sick, because I had to write stories on deadline.

I’d be at work with walking pneumonia or I’d take a laptop home and be trying to write a story while all doped up on Tylenol.

I had to put effort into my so-called “sick days,” which were really hooky days, making sure they fell during a slow news week and not on payday (before the days of direct deposit).

And so with years of perfecting the art of playing hooky, here are some tips:

1. Just do it! The world will go on without you for a day! (A former colleague of mine thought the world would stop if he wasn’t there to write his TV and music reviews).

2. Make sure it’s worth it. (If you can, don’t call in sick on a day that will cause more problems for yourself and others).

3. Don’t call in sick on a Monday, Friday or the day before a holiday (Self-awarded three-day weekends and holidays arouse suspicion).

4. Don’t call in sick on the day of your scheduled job evaluation.

5. Don’t call in sick during a busy time of year. (For journalists this is usually fair time; for income-tax preparers, April 15; for florists, Valentine’s Day; and for teachers, don’t call in sick on the first day of school).

6. Wednesday (a.k.a. Hump Day, the middle of the week) is the most popular day to call in sick, according to MSN.Com.

7. It helps to throw hints the day before your planned hooky, I mean sick day. Walk around with your hand to your head and say, “I think I’m starting to come down with something,” or “I hope I’m not getting that flu thing that’s going around. I sure would hate (wink/wink) to have to miss work tomorrow.”

8. Don’t use your hooky day to run errands, especially in small towns like Clovis and Portales. Wal-Mart is out.

9. Make sure you’re well-stocked on good books, movies, projects to do.
10. Make sure your refrigerator is also well-stocked.

11. Call your boss before or at the time you’re supposed to report for duty. Don’t call in an hour or two later. They’ll think you’re hung over. This is especially important if you really are hung over. Set the alarm.

Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers. She can be reached at: helena_rodriguez@link.freedom.com