It is tempting. You have already taken your vacation and still do not feel like you have enough R&R. Or, it is the first day of real fall weather – with a cool breeze and crayola blue skies and you can’t bear the thought of spending your day confined in an office. The kids may have something spectacular planned at school – or performing in a play or baseball game that you would just rather not miss. Or maybe it is something else – that inner longing for being a responsible-less human, when you could live and do as you pleased that causes you to play hooky from work. The magical swirl of guilt and freedom reminds you of being a teen sneaking out of your parent’s house at night to meet a new boyfriend or girlfriend. Random excitement and exhilaration! And then, just like a teenager – you spend the entirety of your day screening phone calls and limiting computer usage to make sure that you don’t get caught. Suddenly, as you are out rummaging for clothes – you see your boss and she sees you. Then what?
Playing hooky from work is something that everybody does. (Or at least should do) Obviously, in today’s economic climate, you have to take precautions before you just call in sick for work. It is not advised to do it on a day when you know that the big boss will be in town, or when the entire office is collaborating on some huge project. However, if you go about things the right way – it can be a vital recharging tool that will have you appreciating your life a little bit more. Sometimes, it is easy to get caught up in the to-do lists of life and it can be easy to forget how nice it is to just be. Yet – Like all things when you are an adult, you have to be careful.
Today’s technologic market has gotten plenty of people in trouble while playing hooky from work. Video and camper phones, skype, email and of course, things like Twitter and Facebook – can make your entire life an open-faced sandwich to the world. If you call your boss and report that you are sick then post on twitter or Facebook about the fish you caught – you are bound to get in trouble. While you might not get fired, what you can do is ruin your professional reputation and have the uppers in your office thinking twice about your personal integrity. Career suicide is never a good move. If you are playing hooky for work, and you did so under a false pretense like a death in the family or a strange illness – you should do whatever it takes to maintain a low profile. Zipping out and about, socializing online and coming back to work with an amazing tan are not great ways to play hooky from your day job.
This of course brings up the question of why in the world so many responsible, boss fearing adults feel so compelled to lie just to get a day off work. In many business environments today, time off is called just that…time off. You can take it when you need it, when you schedule it and use it for both sick and vacation time. And if you earned it – then why not be able to use it as you wish. Yet – in a random poll for Business Week as high as 96% of all people admit to lying to the boss to get a day off from work. From a boss’s standpoint, it would be easier to just be honest and plan your day off so that you are not leaving the office high and dry without your assistance. And in many ways, playing hooky from work responsibly would have fewer negative consequences. But, it would definitely not be as exciting as sneaky and creeping around the house all day.
The other thing to consider is how much of your playing hooky, you want to divulge to your family members. If your teens see that mom and dad are lying to the boss so that they can go out and play golf all day – they will feel less guilty about playing hooky from school. (Sometimes it stinks being a parent). Additionally, if you have a level of authority at your job then you are responsible for being a good example to your employees. Thinking how you would feel if they called in sick and weren’t, can take the fun out of playing hooky to begin with. In the balance of things, we all have a certain level of responsibility to live up to. Still, while most people know the risks, realize that they might get in trouble or even fired – the bulk of society plays hooky from time to time under false pretenses. If you are careful and stay out of the public paper trail, then it doesn’t matter how guilty your co-workers think you are. If they can’t prove you were out diving or playing golf – then who cares, right?
So playing hooky from work will probably continue. And for good reason. Every once in a while, there isn’t a person in this world who doesn’t need a surprise break from the big bad routine of life. There isn’t a person who works that just doesn’t need a day to regroup, or that is suffering from a hangover so hard that facing the fluorescents in the office just isn’t an option. However, whether you have paid time off, sick days or vacation days – you should do your best to plan them so that you cannot risk losing professional integrity in the eyes of those that employ you. Some days and sometimes, playing hooky from work is the only option you have to regroup – but making it a habit and doing it with ignorance could easily land you on the unemployment line.