Maybe I’ll call in sick

I’m taking the day off. I’m going to call in to work and be like, “Sorry boss, I’m feeling pretty under the weather today,” and he’ll cut me off, he’ll be like, “You know Rob, if you can’t get your shift covered, well, you better bring a doctor’s note is all that I’m saying,” trying to discourage me from taking a personal day. But that’s OK, my wife’s aunt is a doctor, I could always just put a pinch of black pepper up my nose, and then I’ll call her up and be like, “Achoo! Oh my God! I’m so sick! My boss said if I can’t get a doctor’s note then I have to show up for work!”

And I know my wife’s aunt, she’ll get really worried, she’ll be like, “You know Rob, that sneeze actually sounds pretty serious. I’d like you to stop by my office in an hour,” and I’ll have already regretted calling her. Why wouldn’t I have thought this through before actually picking up the phone? I’ll try, “You know, I think I’m OK. I know my body, I just have to rest this one out, please,” and she’ll protest, “No, Rob, I’m actually very concerned.”

So, what, that’s not that terrible, is it? Getting to the doctor’s office? I’d still have most of the day to myself. Even though, yeah, I had really intended for this day to include me staying asleep, but now I’d be up, I’d have already taken a shower and brushed my teeth. I’ll think to myself, this actually isn’t that bad, I’m a lot less tired than I was before. Maybe I should just go to work.

But no, the call to my boss, I’ll have already involved my wife’s aunt. I’d have to go to the doctor. And I’ll get there much later than expected, by the time I actually make my way into the office, sneak into the bathroom to apply some more black pepper, realize that my nose must have developed a black pepper immunity since the morning, kind of panic seeing as how I’d have to sit down in the exam room, totally healthy, making up a bunch of vague sounding symptoms to which the doctor would kind of just look at me puzzled, trying her best to act sympathetic, but doing a terrible job at hiding the belief that maybe, probably, this guy is just faking it, like what kind of an adult does something like this, how did my niece wind up with this clown, but still, she’s family, and so she’ll prescribe me a bunch of antibiotics, sending me on my way, me having to remind her a bunch of times about that note, the only thing I’d really be there for, that doctor’s note, by the time all of that would be over, it would be way past lunchtime, I’d be starving.

And then traffic on the way back would be much worse than it was coming in, it’s always that way, and now, what, do I really have to go to the pharmacy and pick up a bunch of medication that I don’t need in the first place? It might not be a bad idea to have some on hand, in case I really do get sick. Like, I’m not stupid enough to self-diagnose everything. But I know what strep throat feels like. Why spend a whole day going to a doctor when I could just get started on that Z-Pac? But my cavalier attitude toward popping pills will alter my body’s microbiome, my system will develop antibodies so that, when I’m an old man, if I ever get pneumonia or whooping cough, none of the medication will work and I’ll die.

By the time I’ll have snapped out of my daydream, I’ll think, man, I should have just gone to work. This whole day off has been a total bust. And I’ll show up the next day and my boss will be standing there with his hand out for the doctor’s note. He’ll look at it and say, “Hey Rob, this doctor’s note says that you went to the doctor because you weren’t feeling well, and that she prescribed you antibiotics. That’s it.” And I’ll say, “Yeah? What else are you looking for?” And he’ll tell me, “Oh I don’t know, maybe a diagnosis, maybe confirmation that you were actually sick?”

And I’ll have no choice but to feign indignant, like, “What are you, a health care practitioner? I was sick. I went to the doctor. Now I’m feeling better.” Which is true, my boss shouldn’t really cross into my medical history, but he’s clever, he’ll be like, “All right, well let me see your antibiotics.” And I’ll realize, shit, I’m not taking those meds for real. I left them at home. I’ll call his bluff, “Fine!” and then make a big show of looking everywhere, pretending like I must have lost them, asking people if they’ve seen a pill bottle anywhere.

But my boss will get in my face, he’ll be like, “I’m writing you up.” And despite my protests, “But! Come on!” he’ll walk away, “You try anything like this again and you’re out.” Most likely I’d get really sick like a week later, for real, and instead of going through the proper channels, doctor, medicine, stuff like that, I’ll have already used my sick excuse for the year, and I’ll have to tough it out, work while I’m sick. Maybe I’ll develop an infection. Maybe I won’t make it. I probably won’t. I should probably just go to work. But I really don’t feel like going in today. Maybe I could make up a death in the family. Nobody close, just a distant cousin. One of my in-laws. A distant in-law. Someone close enough that I’d have to go to the funeral, but distant enough so that nobody at work would feel obliged to say stuff like, “Sorry for your loss Rob,” and I’d have to fake it, “Yeah … thanks …”

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