Posted by: Jeremiah Graves | November 19, 2011

Things at Which I Suck: Playing Hooky

I’ve never been real good at skipping out on things.

I missed one day of school in kindergarten. It just so happened that my lone sick day was during Fire Safety week and it was the day that everyone got to go down to the firehouse, get their own plastic fireman hat, ride on the fire trucks and get their photo in the paper.

I vowed to never miss another day of school again, because it was clear to me—even as a five-year-old—that all of the best shit happens when you’re sitting at home puking your guts out with a 24-hour bug.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to hold true to my “never miss another day of school” vow, but I was pretty darn close. I’d say that after kindergarten, I averaged, at most, two missed days per year.

Things got a little wonky when I got chicken pox in third grade and somewhere along the way I got coerced into skipping out on an afternoon worth of classes against my will.

Seriously, it was pretty much a hostage situation.

We were out selling advertisements for the yearbook as part of a class and I was the passenger. My buddy just decided we weren’t going back to school and drove off to the mall. Short of trying to tuck and roll out of the moving car and run the 20 miles back to the school, there wasn’t really anything I could do about it, so I got a soft pretzel and bought some CDs.

I got a little better at skipping out on things in college, at least freshman year anyway.

Granted, I’m like 92% sure that they actually kick you out of college if you don’t skip a bunch of classes freshman year.

It would seem that skipping classes goes along with eating buffalo wings at 2am, binge drinking, gaining tons of weight, making-out with strangers and vomiting on the poor sap in the bottom bunk as part of the “authentic college experience.”

Unfortunately, despite my exhaustive efforts, I can’t seem to verify this theory on any major university’s official website.

Pictured: Every freshman ever.

That first semester, I was great at skipping classes. I skipped classes because I was tired, because I just didn’t feel like going, because Grace was sick and I was taking care of her, because I wanted to hit up a Twins game and for countless other reasons.

At the end of my first semester, I ended up sleeping through a final in my Introduction to Theatre class (Author’s Note: shut-up).

Luckily, I had earned something like 125% in the class thanks to my willingness to do a bunch of mini-stage performances for extra credit. As a result, missing the final only brought my final grade down to a C instead of causing me to fail the course. I thought that was a pretty swell situation and was fully-committed to the idea that skipping classes had no negative impact in anyway.

I mean come on, what harm was a C in Intro to Theatre going to do, right?!

While I was at home after that semester I got a letter from the university telling me that if I didn’t get my shit together they were going to yoink my in-state tuition (read: the only reason I could afford to go to college out-of-state) away from me. It turns out that the university had decided to raise the minimum GPA required to maintain the in-state tuition “scholarship” (read: coupon…it’s not a scholarship, it’s a freakin’ coupon).

I’m like 99.9% sure that was the last class I ever missed. I turned into a perfect attendance angel and kept my grades up, rocking a 4.0 GPA the rest of the way.

Fortunately for me (professionally) and unfortunately for me (personally), that trait followed me into my adult life.

I’ve worked at MIT for a little over five years now.

In those five years I’ve taken off time for Christmas trips home, fantasy baseball trips home, friends’ weddings and the occasional quick vacation with Grace. And that’s about it.

I’ve taken a grand total of three sick days in that same five-year stretch.

My lung kinda-sorta collapsed in August of 2007. As a result, I missed two days of work because I was, you know, in the hospital.

The third sick day, is one that I remember all-too well: January 2, 2008. I was on my way back from spending Christmas in Iowa with the family and I got stuck in O’Hare Airport on New Years Day. I filled the time by getting food poisoning. When I rolled into Boston at 1am, I originally intended to get back to my apartment, pass out and then go into work at 9am. Instead, I got back to my apartment, passed out and woke up at 6am in a very—ahem—unpleasant state. As a result, I took my third sick day and spent it vomiting and preparing to die. Good times.

That’s it. Those are my three sick days in five years. I haven’t used once since, needless to say, I’m due.

I’m always saying that I’m going to call-in sick or take a “mental health day.” When it comes down to it, however, I never actually do it.

Heck, last week I told like half a dozen people that I was going to play hooky on Thursday. It was the perfect storm. I had nothing on my schedule all day except for a one-hour desk shift at 4pm. It was the ideal day to play hooky.

So what did I do? Well, I managed to stay home…for like three hours before I ended up coming into work anyway.

Here’s a quick look at the time I have available according to my last paycheck:

That’s right folks, we’re looking at a total of roughly 612.5 hours (rounded down) worth of paid leave that I have available.

I could legitimately stop showing up to work for the next 17 and a half weeks and there’s not a thing anyone could do about it. I’d be on the payroll the entire time, heck, I think I’d actually accrue more vacation and sick time whilst away.

To put that into perspective, if I chose today to be the last day that  I show up to work until I’ve burned up all of my leave time, I wouldn’t come back to work until roughly 1pm on March 22, 2012…which is good, because I have a meeting that afternoon.

I think I need to get better at playing hooky so that I can use up some of that time. It might even help to diffuse some of my work-related rage if I just stay the hell home once in a while.

Perhaps a week spent suffering from “SARS” or “the Whooping Cough” or “Rickets” or something would do me some good.

Anyone have a favorite go-to “illness” they use when they’re “sick?” Let’s hear it in the comments…I can use all the suggestions you’ve got.



  1. chlamydia of the elbow?

    However you may have some explaining to do to Grace 😛

    Can’t you just say I’m sick and not coming in. I just tell my work that I’m sick and they don’t ask another question.


    • Intriguing.

      I suppose, there is the whole thing where I could just send an email that says “I’m out today, Suck it!”

      That would probably be more than sufficient.


  2. Dude… can I have some of your sick time??

    I faked a migraine once a few years ago, but the hookey gods didn’t like that and struck me down with a real migraine. I learned my lesson.


    • Well that sounds all-kinds of awful. You can have as much of my sick time as you’d like. I’ll trade it for beer and/or baked goods.


  3. I recall emailing you after you asked for coverage with legitimate concern over a soreish throat. Last fall, I believe.


    • Interesting. Clearly I made a memorable day out of it?! :-/


  4. […] I pretty much never get sick and I am notoriously bad at playing hooky. […]


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