As I mentioned earlier today, I’m probably dying. Having the flu is like being drunk without any of the fun or reliable breathing.
I’m feeling better today than yesterday (thanks for asking), when I blew off work via a text message that read, “Not coming in tomorrow. Sorry.” Actually, I don’t remember if I included the “sorry” part, because I wasn’t, but “sorry” seems like a nice thing that I hope I said. I have a pretty sweet job for calling in sick. Here’s how it works: I get sick, I tell somebody (doesn’t really matter who), and I go back to bed.
That’s not all that different than how I rolled in Biglaw. Of course, I didn’t last very long in Biglaw. In Biglaw, people act like overcoming illness to work on documents makes them Michael Jordan in the flu game. I always thought it was stupid, and borderline malpractice, to attempt to work on sensitive client matters when you’ve got enough Duane Reade in you that it’s illegal for you to drive a car, but I’m also the guy who used to remote into work because it was “too cold” and took a “personal day” whenever Madden dropped.
Let my mistakes be your guide. Here are five times when I called in sick and I didn’t get dirty looks from all the partners when I returned. So I can only assume that these are the five situations where it’s “okay” to be sick.
I’ve put it together in the form of a listicle because I can’t be bothered to put in transitional phrases like an adult. For those who might be interested in using this list as a guide for scoring a day off, I’ve ordered this from the most believable ways to call in sick to the least…
Notice how this is a child? Don't act like a child.
True story: when I was a lawyer, sometimes I’d leave work and fantasize about jumping in front of a slow moving bus or cab and getting injured. Not enough to be in a life-threatening situation, just serious enough to be put in some ward of the hospital where my doctors wouldn’t allow me to do any more work. I knew just having a “note” from the doctor or being “sick” wasn’t enough. If you could see, you could review documents. So I needed an injury where somebody would prevent my employer from making me do any more work.
And an injury that was serious enough to allow me to quit would have kept my parents off my back. That’s the real business. If I had gotten, say, my left arm chopped off (I’m right handed), I figured I could credibly explain to my family that I had “a moment of clarity” and didn’t want to “waste my life in an office” anymore. Then I wouldn’t look like a “quitter” to my friends and family, and I’d look almost heroic for efforts to overcome my new disability. It would have worked!
I never did it, obviously. Eventually, I realized that quitting my job and dealing with the disappointment of my family and the unfounded perception that I “couldn’t cut it” from my friends was way more intelligent than cutting off my arm. And I think history has proven me right. For instance, I have two arms, which is awesome.
But I thought about it — you think about all kinds of crazy things when you feel overwhelmed with work. It seems like a Brazilian university student took her thoughts a step further. To avoid completing her dissertation, she faked getting kidnapped….
Not to be all on Catherine Rampell’s jock today, but the other thing I read in the Economix while I was catching up on the internet seemed far more interesting than imagining Shearman & Sterling partners bitch about how flat profits per partner left them with only $1.56 million, on average, to play around with in 2011.
On the one hand, it’s an obvious point: a study about the most “sleep-deprived” professions found lawyers to average only 7 hours of sleep a night. Only “home health aides” received less sleep.
It doesn’t come as a galloping shock to anybody that lawyers average less sleep than almost anybody else. What did surprise me was the figure. What the hell kind of lazy lawyer is getting seven entire hours of sleep every day?
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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