Sick Day

bullshit-sick-dayWith American Thanksgiving in the rear view, I was curious to know if the number of Canadians who booked off sick this past Thursday was affected by the holiday.  Canucks love American football, Macey’s Day parades, and who’s kidding who, an impromptu day off during the work week is something to be thankful for.

I found nothing of consequence for Thanksgiving Day, but interestingly enough, Black Friday, the day after Turkey Day (legal looting day as I call it), showed a significant spike.


It’s estimated that 1.2 million Canadians, on average, call in sick on American Black Friday – just to take advantage of the incredible shopping experience.  To give you a better sense of the enormity of that statistic, that’s roughly 2.5 % of the country’s population, which, if you compared the percentage to the United States, would have equaled a whopping 11 million fake American sniffles and well-timed coughs.

All calling in sick.

A rite of passage, an employer’s nightmare.

For some, calling in sick is simple.  Pick up the phone.  For others, the mere concept of missing work presents an ethical dilemma, a decision fraught with trepidation and dire consequences.  The feeling of guilt, the perceived backlash from co-workers, evil-eyed scrutiny from management, all become precursors to an inevitable cerebral overload, a brain blip, culminating in the inability to make a decision.

We’ve all experienced it.  Debating the pros and cons, endlessly quantifying our illness on a self-imposed sickness scale, all the while traversing a continuum of ‘discomfort versus obligation’.  An indefinite loop of ‘should I or shouldn’t I‘.

We eventually make our decision, only to pause, sit back down, and reassess our thought process.  “Am I really that sick?”  “When was my last sick day?”  Then we acquiesce, despondent in the certainty that we’re going in after all.

Until the breath of an ill-wind overturns logic.

“Screw it, I feel like shit.”

And just like that, we’re reaching for the phone, rehearsing our finest ‘at death’s door’ speech.  The deed is done.

Relief, regret, or guilt.  Which is it?

Sound familiar?


Employees calling in sick fall into one of three categories.  I’ve taken the liberty of naming them accordingly.

Category 1

Holier than thou.

These are the co-workers who’ve never missed a day in 19 years.  Not one.  Either blessed with impeccable health, or perhaps impenetrable physiological fortitude, these Sick-Day Nazis will remind anyone who cares to listen, of their exemplary service record.  They disapprove of sick-time slackers, often with a glint of disdain, regardless of legitimate or extenuating circumstances.  Pneumonia, influenza, migraines, just excuses.

Nothing, on heaven or earth, will keep them from work.  Unfortunately, calling in sick from a member of this group likely means a stage 4 diagnosis, or worse.

Category 2:

Now You See Them, Now You Don’t

Chronic abusers.  These are the ones who believed the 1970’s rhetoric that North America was moving towards a 4-day work week.  When this didn’t pan out, they took matters into their own hands.  Despite the title, foreseeing their absence is not difficult.  Patterns are predictable and transparent; the Friday before a long weekend, the day after the Super Bowl, a mid-week Springsteen concert, St. Patrick’s Day. Not rocket science.

Calling in sick for this group is a straightforward process, orchestrated, sans stress.  Speed dial.  No conflict, no guilt.  They are masters.

Category 3:

Moderate Minions.

Where the majority reside.  Middle ground.  Moderate Minions walk a fine line between commitment to the job, and an understanding and acceptance of personal well-being.  A balance.  Assessment of their personal sickness/discomfort level is typically honest, and while guilt occasionally manifests, Minions are generally confident in the knowledge that their sick days are justified – most of the time.

Calling in sick for Minions varies greatly from individual to individual – high stress to no stress, and everything in between.

Despite three distinct categories, there is no arguing that situations are not black and white.  Unique issues exist and a myriad of variables come into play, influencing an individual’s decision.  Paid versus unpaid sick days, career jeopardy, pride, whether or not you get the house to yourself if you stay home, all pertinent considerations.

Bottom line is, we all get sick.  Some of us drag ourselves in, regardless of who we infect, others don’t.  Our pain/discomfort threshold varies.  Our commitment to our employer varies.  Our ‘give a shit’ factor varies.

Some people love their jobs (a concept I’m not familiar with).  Some hate their jobs.  Some could care less.  Sick day absences vary, for a reason.

henderson1972As a Canadian, our country is likely in line for a ‘National Sick Day’ World Award at some point.  Ever since the Canada-U.S.S.R. Hockey Summit Series back in 1972, when  Canada, playing the final game in Moscow, clawed back from a 2 goal deficit in the third period to win the game and series with 34 seconds left on the clock, we set the stage for any future on-mass nationwide sick day euphoria.  The entire country stopped to watch that game.  I was a kid in school at the time, huddled around a 12” black and white television with 200 others, watching the drama unfold.

And to this day, whether it’s the Olympics, the Junior Hockey World Cup, or any other final, we watch.  The country watches. And employers stay quiet.

And now, with Canadians feigning illness for the chance to max out their credit cards exactly one week before the Christmas shopping season officially begins, American Black Friday has climbed the charts as a serious sick day contender.

What’s next?


I’m thinking Cinco De Mayo.  

Canada/Mexico, sandwiching America.  It makes sense.  Let’s Panini-press the hell out of our continent.

Who’s in?

Until next time,

22 thoughts on “Sick Day

  1. Good one!
    I do take advantage of my sick days (I must!), although I also have those days when I don’t care who I infect and the whole office can get sick to make it clear to the boss that it’s fault. Hahaha! I am just waiting for that opportunity when my doctor or psychologist says I need to weeks off to recover from a near-nervous breakdown. It’s been 6 years since the last one. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Anne! In my younger years I always fretted about booking off sick, but as I begin to wind down, I have no qualms about staying home. I’ve been blessed with good health for the most part, so I cannot complain. ‘Weeks off the recover’ is the way to go. A healthy body and a healthy mind is more important than an unblemished sick time record. Always.
      Thanks Anne, as always I appreciate your comments!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Same here! I was hardly absent unless stuck in bed because I was not healthy enough to get up and I would be suspicious of those who were always sick, and didn’t like them. 😄
        Always a pleasure to read your posts. 😊


  2. I’ve always felt extremely guilty taking a day off. It’s been ingrained in me from my parents or teachers, I can’t remember, “if you’re not dying you’re well enough to go”. Thank goodness for online shopping, though!


  3. Love reading your clever writing. Your descriptions of the three categories of employees calling out sick are hilarious! I definitely belong to the “minion” group but I have met people belonging to all parties.


  4. Loved your post, Mike. I commented on G+ but removed it because some guy was offended by my opinion. I have experienced all the types of people that you mentioned. So glad I don’t have to deal with it anymore! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Every year I usually take Thanksgiving as my Holiday off then work either Christmas or New Year. I like to take advantage of the sales coz that’s when I usually try to finish my Christmas list. But this year, since I was out for a month (vacay), I decided to avoid the temptation and do Cyber Monday instead but I didn’t do that either. I was just so tired and jetlagged to bother. Now, I’m off Christmas & NY, I don’t even know what to do with it. LoL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always make sure I’m off the week of Christmas, best time of year. I just have to get into gear and start my shopping, I’m a recovering Dec 24 last minute shopaholic. Online is the way to go, as long as I can intercept the package deliveries.
      Cheers and thanks for the comment, always appreciated!

      Liked by 1 person

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