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Pulling a Ferris -- corporate style



Ferris_relax_2 It's cold, flu and allergy season here in Tampa Bay. By that, I mean it's spring training for Major League Baseball and co-workers are disappearing faster than in "Night of the Comet."


Of course, '80s fans know that to call in sick the right way requires a slick technique often referred to as ... Pulling A Ferris.

(God bless Matthew Broderick for his multiple contributions to popular culture. Aside from giving the English-speaking world a dozen good strategies for staying home sick, he also inspired me to once fool the U.S. and Russian defense forces to declare global thermonuclear war. Ah, memories.)

So here are some recommended "Pulling a Ferris" strategies for grown-ups. 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? Sweaty palms won't cut it, Mr. Bueller. I recommend using the exploding diarrhea excuse (trademark pending). 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. And who can blame you for shagging foul balls once the needle torture is over. (Don't forget to wear a Band-Aid or two on the arms for added sympathy.)

THE EXTENDED WEEKEND: For this, you need the advanced planning. Start a few days before the weekend, claiming unusual fatigue or trying a little fake heavy coughing. 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.

COMMON MISTAKES: Never have a spouse, friend or partner handle the phone call to the office. (Sorry, Cameron.) They're never convincing liars. Also, avoid the urge to involve a co-worker in your scheme. If Times pop music critic Sean Daly and I both call in sick the same day, the authorities will be scouring all the wing and beer joints in town looking for us.

Remember, 80s-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 2:31pm]


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