I’ve worked in the nurse staffing industry for the better part of the last decade. Throughout my career, whether it’s from a direct report or from a nurse on assignment, I’ve heard some DOOZIES for call outs.
I put nothing past people for excuses not to go to work.
Usually it’s some variation of this:
“My car’s roof fell off and then it snowed so I have to wait for it to melt until I can drive to work.”
“I have to go help my aunt’s babysitter’s dog at the immigration office.”
“I had a dream that my kid fell off his bike and got really hurt and my dreams come true a lot so I should stay home and keep an eye on him…”
One of my favorites is my friend had an employee call out sick because her cat died, and then asked if she could use bereavement days for the time off. I shit you not, this really happened.
You know what, whatever we all get sick. We all need a day off here and there. I get it. I really do. For the most part, I roll my eyes at the stupid ass lies and excuses I’ve heard and get on with my day. But if there’s one excuse that really gets my gall, it’s when someone calls out with food poisoning. The other day, I got a sick call- SPECIFICALLY stating it was food poisoning. Not just that she was sick, or not feeling well, or had the flu or a cold- but FOOD POISONING.
I immediately wanted to fire her.
Have you ever HAD food poisoning? I’m not talking about a wittle tummy ache or something that didn’t sit well with you. If you have to stop and think about it, then YOU HAVEN’T BEEN POISONED BY FOOD.
I had food poisoning once and it was probably the worst physical night of my life. I had dinner over my friend Amy’s house at least 5 years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday. We had pasta with ground turkey in the marinara sauce. I’m not saying it’s Amy’s fault I got sick. But I’m not NOT saying that either. Look, nobody else who ate her dinner that night got sick. But I will tell you, I’ve never let her cook ground poultry for me again.
A little while after dinner, my stomach started to hurt. I sat down and tried to wait it out. It wasn’t getting better so I decided I should head home. The drive home was hell. I was practically in the breakdown lane driving 40 MPH with my head hanging out the window. I miraculously made it home in one piece. Feeling horrible, I ran into the house past my cousin who I was living with and her boyfriend, and bolted for the bathroom. My body then violently turned against me for the next several hours.
To say it was revolting is an understatement. The only times I could pick myself off the bathroom floor, I was utilizing the trash can and the toilet simultaneously. I had tears running down my face and not the normal Tracy tears because I cry over everything but the kind that just squeeze out because your body is heaving. Awful.
A little while later, as I was resting my head inside the toilet, taking a break from vomiting, with a bath towel wrapped around my bottom half, Katie came in to check on me. Her boyfriend Todd was standing behind her. “Trace, are you okay? Do you need anything??” She asked.
I shook my head, which was still dangling inside the toilet, too tired to lift it up.
“Okay, well please, please let me know if you need anything…..” She paused for a minute. “Tracy, why do you have a towel on? What happened to you?”
I was too exhausted and beaten by my own body to even consider formulating a lie.
“I. I was throwing up so hard….I. I shit my pants!” I cried. “I did, I shit my pants. They’re right there, in the trash,” I waved to the trash barrel, head still buried as I prayed to the Porcelain Princess.
Silence for a few seconds. And then I heard Todd’s voice from the hall.
“It’s okay, Tracy. Don’t feel bad. I shit my pants all the time!”
Even in my frazzled, weak and wanting to die state, this didn’t sound right. I slowly picked my head out of the toilet and looked at him.
“That’s. Dude, that’s really weird. I mean, I crapped my pants because I’m sick. I don’t think it’s normal to be doing it ‘all the time’…. But seriously thanks for trying to make me feel better.”
“Weirdo,” I mumbled once my head was back in the toilet. W.T.F?!?!?
Anyway, so here’s the thing. If you’ve ever had food poisoning, you’ve probably been nodding your head this whole time. You probably remember what thing you ate that made you that sick too. You may have even shit your pants and man – let me tell you, I’m not judging you.
But to use food poisoning’s name in vain to someone who’s had it…..that’s just wrong. Whenever someone calls out sick saying they have food poisoning, I want to yell,
“Are you SURE it’s FOOD POISONING?!? Are you SURE?! Are you peeing out your butt? Would you rather be dead or alive right now? Alive? Okay then you don’t have food poisoning.”
Because if you had food poisoning, you wouldn’t be able to call or text me that you had food poisoning. You’d have your head in the toilet, your pants in the trash, and you’d ask your cousin and pooping pants boyfriend to call your boss for you because it hurt to move.
So next time you need to call out sick, choose your excuse wisely. I personally would rather you just call and tell me, “Screw it! I just want to go to the beach today and I’m using a sick day!” then claim to have food poisoning. Frankly, it’s offensive to someone who really has.
Oh and Todd, if you’re reading this….I hope you don’t still shit your pants all the time, buddy!