But hey, I’m not trying to burst your bubble. So what if you aren’t the smartest person? Does intelligence really even matter all that much? Not really, in the grand scheme of life. Especially if you are a fan of reality TV, like me, because I swear some of those dumb shows make you LESS intelligent. But there is one important area where intelligence matters: when you are trying to play games or fool someone, especially when it comes to your employer.
I mention this because I’ve been informed of or have noticed a few prominent incidents lately where people have been faking illnesses to get out of work. Sure, this happens all the time, no shocker there, but what’s particularly amusing about these incidents is that these people are going to great lengths to fool others into thinking they are actually sick when they really aren’t.
In my first case, the person was overheard two days ago saying how she woke up with the worst sore throat in the world. Nobody gives this lady sympathy, because she is always calling off sick, and she has exhausted all of her Paid Time Off for the year already, so the comment was pretty much ignored. Then, sure enough yesterday morning, she called off sick. No surprise there. And no surprise in the fact that when she came in the door of the office this morning, she was coughing like a stray cat with a two pound hairball stuck in her throat.
It’s hard to act sick. I used to do this at home when I was a kid, particularly on Sunday mornings when I didn't want to go to Sunday School. I’d tell my mom I was sick and couldn’t go, and then I’d cough and act all lethargic all day. Or at least try to. By 10 AM, when my mom hadn’t heard a cough out of me for an hour because I’d simply forgotten about my ruse, she knew better. And thus was the case with this lady today. A half hour or even an hour would go by and she wouldn’t cough. Oh sure, for the first half hour of the workday she did, especially as people walked by her work area. But then it stopped—until the company’s president or her supervisor would walk past, and then the coughing spells would begin again. After lunch-time, she went through another coughing spell, which could have been misconstrued as real, but then it was discovered that someone was meeting in the conference room down the hall from her office, and so she HAD to act convincing. No more coughing for the rest of the day though. Surprise, surprise. And she does this EVERY TIME SHE CALLS OFF.
Lady, you’re not as clever as you think. People who are sick, especially with a cold as you claim to have, cough ALL DAY. Or are you just sick of people? Maybe it’s the people that you work with who are making you cough? I think you are just sick of your job.
My next case has to do with another lady who has had a recent rash of calling off work (or simply not showing up). She’s going through some personal issues, and that can happen with anyone from time to time, but this lady’s call-offs have been borderline extreme. Like 10 to 15 times in the past 3 months. She sounds depressed, comes to work without makeup, thinks everyone is against her, etc. Yesterday, for the third time in a month, she just didn’t show up for work. At around 11 AM, she had a doctor’s note sent over saying she was sick, and she claimed she contracted the same illness that a couple of the other staffer’s had. It was so bad that her supervisor had to call the doctor to confirm. Then today she didn’t show up, saying she was coughing up phlegm all night and going to the hospital, despite the doctor having cleared her for work the previous day.
The funny thing about this lady is that, while sick, she has actually checked in at places on Facebook on days that she’s missed work. Not doctor’s offices, but restaurants and apparel and jewelry stores. Because, after all, we ALL go shopping while we’re sick, as if retail therapy is better than rest and medicine. Seriously, lady? Checking in at the mall on Facebook is worse than being covered with red ink after robbing a bank! You may not be friends with your coworkers on Facebook (although this lady IS, yeah, you read that right), but you don’t think people will be looking at your daily social media activities while absent from work, especially with your track record? You may think you are pulling a fast one and getting doctors to sign off on your "sickness" (one time my doctor asked me if I needed a note to take time off after severely spraining my ankle—I politely declined, as I could certainly SIT AT MY DESK with a sprained ankle). But lady, if you’re going to post your whereabouts on Facebook, you might as well just hand in your two-week notice. Don’t you think that HR has a file on you? Don’t you think that your absence has an impact on all of your coworkers who have to cover for you? For all you know, people may be collecting screen shots of your Facebook posts. Really, if you don’t want to work, just quit. There are thousands of others out there who would be thrilled to have your job.
Finally I’ve noticed a growing trend of people working from home to make up for lost time due to illnesses. They’ll remote into their computers in the evening, logging hours and “making up the time.” It seems to be a growing trend happening at companies all over. And this just cracks me up more than anything, and here’s why: any good computer guy worth even half of his degree or certification could tell you that your network activity, particularly the sessions and files you have open, are easily viewed and or logged on the server. It’s not Big Brother (at least not yet), because these are simple tools that allow network admins to troubleshoot issues and create user rights and access permissions and things. But my point is that when you call off sick and are trying to make up time, or even if you are just trying to get in “extra hours” to make yourself seem busy to your supervisor, it’s probably a smart idea to actually WORK. Merely signing in won’t do it, especially if you sign in and leave your computer for an hour while you are watching Grey’s Anatomy. I admire the fact that you are trying to "seem" busy, but you're not as clever as you think.
I dealt with a guy once several years ago that worked from home more often than not. He had productivity issues even on the days he actually worked in the office, so naturally his supervisor asked me to keep an eye on him. And sure enough, when he’d “work from home”, he’d sign in at 8:30 AM, then not touch his computer for three and a half hours, sign out to lunch, sign back in an hour later (I could picture him with like a timer on his phone or home computer or whatever to alert him when to sign in and out). I swear I caught him doing this twice a week, fake working, before he was eventually let go (for a whole slew of reasons, not just that--although shouldn't that be grounds enough?!?). But really, buddy, you aren’t as clever as you think.
And as a side note from a veteran IT guy’s viewpoint, it’s pretty much impossible to do something on a computer nowadays without having someone else know what you are doing. Firewalls and web filters capture all of your web surfing. And if it’s not some IT guy at your office, your Internet Service Provider sure as heck knows what you are doing. Clearing your history and cookies in your browser isn’t going to cut it. You know, I once worked for a company where, every other day or so, my coworker and I would come in and find that the history was cleared on the main production computer. We suspected the owner of using it to look up questionable (objectionable?) web sites, but boy were we ALL surprised when the office manager asked us to come in and work on a Saturday, and as we were punching in on the clock in the break room, we heard all this commotion over in the computer room and rushed over to see who was in there. When we opened the door, the owner was in there, he was MAD, and he repeatedly asked us why we were there. We told him the office manager had asked us to come in to do some work (it was the busiest part of the year), but the owner was on the phone arguing with her for a good ten minutes before storming off. We knew what he was doing in there, as he didn’t have time to clear his adult-website-filled history. AND we found his wallet and belt on the floor under the desk. How gross is that?!? Of course, he NEVER mentioned this encounter to us again. I don’t blame him—I would have walked away or even quit had he brought it up again. And I ended up leaving that place only a month or two later. Ewww.
But anyway, I really think a lot of people give themselves way too much credit for scheming out little ruses and things. Really, I can’t say this enough: YOU ARE PROBABLY NOT AS CLEVER AS YOU THINK YOU ARE. And it doesn’t take even a person smarter than you to flesh out your schemes. Sometimes you make yourself completely obvious in what you do. So bottom line, don't even try it. You just make yourself look foolish.