The Esquire Guide To Pulling A Sickie

GTA 5 is here. It's time to start feeling woozy...

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It's here. Your copy. GTA 5. The biggest game of the year. A world of fun, waiting to be unleashed.

Only one problem: you have a job (how else did you find the forty quid), and annoyingly, it takes up several precious hours of the day you could be spending sat with your wide screen.

Worry not. We have the solution. The time-honoured art of the sickie. Only to be utilised in extreme circumstances, the sickie is your free pass to 24 hours of me-time: providing you get it right. Get it wrong and you're selling that game for food.  

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Which is why you should follow our 5 point plan.

Step one: pick your target day. No, not tomorrow. We're doing this properly. Plan three days in advance. Make sure your target day is free of any meetings, hit any deadlines you have nice and early and prepare an extra report or piece of work in advance to send on your sick day for brownie points. These are the hard miles. Do them.

Getting ill doesn’t happen over night without warning, so nor should pretending to be ill. Remember: this is a long game you’re playing. Leading up to your sickie, implant the idea of your impending ill health in your colleagues’ heads by doing the following:

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Commence some light sniffing and gentle coughing. Once or twice, push your chair back, sigh gently and put your head in your hands for a couple of seconds, then return to work.

You’re now moving 50% more slowly than normal, wearing a face of stoic misery. Every hour or so, close your eyes and shake your head as if baffled by an inner sensation.

This is it. Make or break time. The validity of your sickie hinges on this day. Continue the above, but step it up. Deliberately – and noticeably – disengage from any office banter. Be sure to schedule in 10 minutes with your boss so they can witness first hand how awful you look and sound.

Remember: it is absolutely vital that you are never the first to mention anything being wrong. Someone else commenting is a sign you’re on the right tracks. But if they do, always answer with an unconvincing ‘I’m fine’.

Like the first hours of a kidnapping, the early hours of a sickie are the most vital. Your best method is email. Follow this fool-proof guide to giving your boss the bad news:

No one wants to bother a man on his sick bed, but if the worst happens and someone from the office does call, do the following:

  • Don’t answer straight away. You’re groggy.
  • Call back within an hour. You don’t need the anxiety of dragging it out.
  • Practice the right level of ‘sick voice’. This is vital. Extremely easy to overcook, your sick voice should be glum, but professional. Remember: you’re not dying, you’re just too unwell to leave the house, so don’t answer with a whooping cough or speak like you’re being choked to death by a snake.

So your day of fun has begun. Well done: it’s the culmination of a lot of hard work and some seriously impressive acting. Now don’t screw it up by doing something stupid, like:

  • Logging onto Facebook / Twitter / Instagram. In fact, forget about the internet full stop.
  • Beware Playstation Network. This is traceable too. You’re aiming for zero digital footprint.
  • Popping out to the shops. Get your snacks in the night before. Even your corner shop has CCTV these days. Think: what would Bourne do?
  • Getting greedy. Two days is just about acceptable. Three days and even the bloke in the post room will know you’re taking the piss.
  • Bounding back into work. Remember: you’re a man in recovery.
  • Bragging about far you’ve got into the game later. Chances are you’ll overhear some chump talking about how he completed the second mission. You already own half the map. Resist the temptation to put him in his place.

If you manage all of the above: congratulations, you can kick back and enjoy your sickie. Savour that first rampage: you’ve earned it.

For more on GTA 5, including 'My Sick Love Affair With GTA' and an interactive map of Los Santos, download the Esquire Weekly iPad edition.

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