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Thursday, March 15, 2012

March Flu

Today is a microcosm of Super Bowl Sunday. It is the start, in earnest, of the NCAA Tournament (round of 64). It has a holiday-like atmosphere in every office in America. People who have not watched a half of college basketball all year often fill out office pool tournament brackets.

There is, of course, one complication. The Big Dance starts in the middle of the day on a weekday. As a result, the first day of the tournament is often a popular day for people to call in “sick”, then head over to Bennigan’s for some green beer and college hoops action.

Today, the Hat Trick is going to look at the different strains of “March Flu”.


Who: This is the guy who got out of bed planning to work a full day, then got a whiff of the Madness and decided to blow off what was left of work to watch the games. This could be either the casual fan who filled out a bracket, then went somewhere for lunch and didn’t want to pry himself away. It could also be the hardcore fan who thought was exercising some willpower and discipline then fell off of the wagon.

How: Either way, the Buyer’s Remorse strain of March Flu works something like this. A guy goes to lunch. He eats “something that doesn’t agree with him”. Then lets the boss know he won’t be coming back because he’s been chained to the toilet for the last hour.

Outlook: The boss didn’t get to be the boss by being stupid. The person in charge knows that the Dance starts today. This tactic will go into the boss’ mental Rolodex as a negative. In fact, even if you really are sick this will be held against you. However, if your attendance is otherwise good and you aren’t leaving your coworkers holding the bag by being absent, chances are this isolated incident will just slide. Understand, however, that you aren’t fooling anyone.

This guy! 1


Who: This guy got out of bed planning on a lunch and dinner menu filled with college basketball. Still, he wants to at least pay lip service to the job. Better to at least show his face than not show up at all.

How: His plan is to show up at work, “checking in” so to speak. Once it becomes clear to him that he won’t be missed that day, he gets a “tickle in his throat”. And by “tickle in his throat”, I mean he coughs like he has a tickle in his throat and is sure to let everyone around him know that he has a tickle in his throat. The tickle progresses to a cough. The cough progresses to feeling run down and wanting to take the rest of the day off.

Outlook: This guy is probably not fooling anyone. However, if he is a skilled thespian and does not make a habit of missing work, he will get the benefit of the doubt and his departure will likely go unquestioned. What kind of jerk questions someone who says he’s sick? Still, this will earn you a “minus” in your boss’ plus/minus rating of you. The one time you go downhill from the start of the day happens to be the first day of the field of 64? Your boss was born during the day, not yesterday.

Oh yeah. That headache is getting intense. 2


Who: This is the guy who is determined to sell his absence as a legitimate coincidence. He figures that it is better to offer up a legitimate roadblock and not even set foot into the office. He can’t be compelled to stay if he never shows up, right?

How: This guy calls his boss about 45 minutes before he is supposed to be at work. He says that he had “a little accident” on the way. It is nothing too serious, but he’s feeling a little stiffness and wants to get checked out. A couple of hours later, the doctor suggests that he takes the rest of the day off.

Outlook: This is office place Darwinism at its best. The office survivor makes an appointment to see his doctor, winks at the doc while describing the “accident”, and gets a note. Perhaps Fender Bender Guy heads to the pharmacy and purchases a brace to apply to the stiff area to wear to work on Friday and possibly the following Monday. He may even have a buddy tap a car into the back of his car at 3 miles per hour, just enough to leave the tiniest ding or scuff in the bumper.

The office prey thinks no further than the end of his nose. The car is sparkling the following day. There’s no doctor’s note. And he goes around the office talking about the marathon he plans to run over the weekend. He may still get away with it for now, but the boss now has a big target on this guy’s back.

Before and after. 3


Who: This is a guy who probably often uses the expression “cut my losses”. He wants to see the NCAA Tournament Games. He knows that everyone knows he wants to see them. He is doing it anyway and doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

How: This guy picks up the phone when he gets out of bed, calls the boss, and says, “I’m sick and I’m not coming into work today.” If we lived like The Jetsons, where telephone calls work like Skype, there would be a giant middle finger on the video screen.

Outlook: Understand that you will earn a red mark, automatically for this. If your boss is a dick, it won’t matter. Nothing ventured…nothing gained.

If your boss is someone you actually don’t mind working for, choose this technique carefully. The boss will probably appreciate that you, unlike three other dudes, didn’t try to pull the wool over his/her eyes and just came out with it: “I’m not coming in.” If you are an office stud, this will be forgotten soon. If you are dead weight at work, all you are doing is giving the brass an easier task if there is a downsizing event. You’ve moved closer to the top of the list!

Via video conference

Who: This is a guy who embraces the mantra, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” When Valentine’s Day rolled around, the mental alarm clock sounded and this guy knew it was that time of year again: time to get his March Madness alibi together.

How: This guy thought ahead, way ahead. He may very well be having a get together at his house. What he is not doing is working today.

The first round games are played on Thursday and Friday. What this means is that his plan of action should commence on Monday. Monday is the day in which he tells a few people (maybe the boss…maybe not) that he feels a tickle in his throat. These darn springtime allergies are acting up again! On Tuesday, the tickle progresses to a cough. On Wednesday, it is a constant cough, a runny nose, and possibly some sneezing (he probably inhaled a few grains of pepper). Perhaps, if he is a non-smoker, he inhales a pack of Marlboro Reds the night before to stifle his breathing on Wednesday.

Outlook: This lines everything up for Strategic Flu Guy to be absent on Thursday and possibly on Friday. If he plays it properly, he can tell the boss on Wednesday that he definitely won’t be there on Thursday. Nobody is going to question him as he has been going downhill all week. Chances are this guy is probably a better worker in the first place because he is smart and actually plans ahead.

The only downside to this flu is that you can only use it once per boss. If you have the same boss next March, that boss is going to put two and two together if you start getting the flu and have to miss the Thursday that coincides with the start of March Madness in consecutive years. Still, this guy plans ahead. He may very week be the boss by next year!

This guy played his cards juuust right! 5

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