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Ever "pull a Ferris"? Here's how

For someone who loves the 80s as much as I do, I haven't incorporated much of the culture of the golden decade into my lingo these days. Except for one thing: Pulling a Ferris. Definition: To skip out on an obligation -- usually work or school -- by claiming to be sick. Anytime someone calls in sick, I playfully accuse them of pulling a Ferris. I have no idea if they know what I'm talking about. I don't care either.


And indeed I'm stuck home today, Ferris-like. Except that I'm legitimately sick. Strep throat. And I have a needle mark in my butt from the penicillin shot and a $40 receipt from the clinic to prove it. Plus, when you listen to this week's podcast (about one-hit wonders in 1981), you'll notice I sound tired, frustrated and downright cranky. That's the strep talking.

But why ruin a good story with facts, figures and fannies.

In the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off, our hero goes with the ole "sweaty palms" technique, along with a side order of moaning and wailing, to avoid a day at school. Good stuff. That might keep you home from high school, but not the office.

So here are some recommended "Pulling a Ferris" strategies for the rest of us. These aren't mine per se -- let's just say I've collected my favorite ones from my nearly 20-year career of hanging around fellow slackers:

-- Mental day off: Just want to skip a day from work and do nothing special? I recommend using the "exploding diarrhea" excuse. No one at work will want you using the same restroom. Plus that's a symptom that comes and goes (literally) and you'll be back on your feet in 24 hours.

-- Day at the ballpark: Trickier because you could be spotted, either by fellow Ferris-pullers or on TV. Plus, an outdoor venue brings the possibility of sunburn. For this excursion, I recommend trying this: "My doctor called and ordered a sudden series of tests on me. I'll be spending half the day at the clinic giving blood and stool samples." Nobody will want to know anything more. Plus, you're not contagious or necessarily sick. If spotted, you're just blowing off steam after a morning spent with painful needles.

-- The extended weekend: The ultimate getaway challenge. You want to turn that two-day weekend into a three- or four-day minivacation. For this, you need the advanced planning. Start a few days before the weekend, claiming unusual fatigue or trying a little fake heavy coughing. Then loudly express worries that your whole weekend is in peril if you don't start feeling better. Maybe even leave work an hour or two early one day to see if you can "catch the doctor" on the way home. Then -- and this is the hard part -- set your alarm clock for very early that Monday morning -- 3 or 4 a.m. Call the boss's voice mail and leave a wheezing, hacking message saying you've been sick all weekend and won't make it in today. Hang up awkwardly, as if you almost passed out just from the energy expended, and go back to bed.

Remember, Ferris-worshippers, life moves pretty fast. If you don't skip work once in a while, you might miss it.

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 2:18pm]


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