Look, some days you're feeling fine, but just don't want to go to work. Maybe you can get away with coughing into the phone and doing the croaking "sick voice" for your boss, but sometimes that's not going to cut it. Fortunately, it is times like those when the true slacking geniuses show what they're made of.
Next to calling in fake sick, claiming a family member died is the most effective excuse in the getting out of work business. Who will dare question it? I had a prof in university who told me about a kid who had a grandparent die on exam day three years in a row. But a guy named Scott Bennett from Pennsylvania decided he needed to go one step further in getting out of work at his factory job. He didn't kill his mom (that's two steps further), but he did claim she died. And then he published her goddamned obituary in the local paper.
It was a foolproof plan! Only, the thing about the local paper is that people read it locally. So if you say your mom died, there's a good chance the neighbors will read it. Or your dad. Or even your mom. That's how Bennett's plan fell apart. Family members called the local paper to assure them that Mrs. Bennett was still doing her thing, and then Mrs. Bennett herself went down to the paper on an "I'm still alive" victory tour.
Authorities charged Bennett with disorderly conduct. It turns out that faking someone else's death is frowned upon, if for no other reason than it makes the paper look like a bunch of suckers and probably really ruins the day for a lot of people who wondered if they'd just spent the morning with a zombie. Bennett was also fired from his job, because they apparently couldn't think of a way to harness this kind of bold initiative. Come on, guys! People who do shit like this run the world.
My experience with jury duty is limited to watching Jury Duty, the exceptional Pauly Shore film in which he duties all up in a jury. I think it also starred Tia Carrere -- a thing I could Google incredibly easily, but I will not do it. Anyway, jury duty in real life is a serious matter, and one every workplace is required to make time for. Mona Lisa Tello knew this all too well.
Not content with having a badass name, 61-year-old Mona Lisa used jury duty as an excuse to get out of work at a Manhattan high school. To make the lie extra convincing, she forged a notice from the court so she could get 15 days off between September and May. The problem, aside from illegality, is that Ms. Tello did a piss poor job of it. The word "trial" was misspelled as "trail," and "manager" was spelled "manger," among other things. The phone and fax numbers on the letter were fake, the address was wrong, the dates were wrong. It was pretty much a shit show. Again, high school teacher.
When a CBS news crew confronted Tello with the accusations, she pulled out the best defense you'll ever hear: "They say forgery? It's not true. Hello. I have to shut the door." And then the door was shut. Suck it, CBS. However, Tello later admitted she'd done it, left the job, and got stuck with ten days' community service. Which, now that I think about it, is preferable to the 15 days of jury duty she'd lied about.
If faking sick is too hard for you, or you've already called in to work with everything from face syphilis to Restless Leg Tourette, then the next-best option may be some kind of a wildly unpredictable emergency that still garners some sympathy from management and has an aspect of danger to it. It's time to fake a burglary.
Florida's Dwayne Yeager wanted to skip work, but his wife was all about being an adult and paying bills, so she wouldn't let him. Dwayne hatched a scheme to show that nefarious shrew who was boss, though. He ransacked his own goddamn house, then called the cops to tell them about it. Was this more work than actually going to his job? Probably.
The cops arrived to find that, sure enough, a bedroom window was open and Yeager's house was torn to shit. A closer examination found no indication of forced entry, which is a little suspicious, maybe. Somewhat more suspicious was the neighbor who saw Yeager leave his house, then come back minutes later, open the window, and proceed to not get burgled by anyone other than himself. Shit, maybe the guy's got multiple personalities?
And then, like many a belt before him, Yeager buckled under questioning from the cops. He admitted the whole thing was a ruse to get out of work, so the cops obliged him by charging him with a false report and taking him to jail.
Three months after Florida teacher Ashley Barker started work, she emailed her boss to state she needed time off because she had kidney stones. That's fine, no one should have to piss out a rock during the workday. Later on, she had a cyst that needed shrinking, and that's cool too. You need to keep those in check. Two months later, she was supposedly at home with a brain infection while her body shut down. Shit, that escalated quickly! Fast-forward 120 emails and many sick days, and Barker was apparently on death's door, maybe not able to make it through the night.
She did, but her supposed misfortunes only progressed, with Barker missing many days over the course of a year. At some point after she was spotted by a fellow teacher at Legoland when she was supposed to be home dying, her father got roped into the lie and was said to be dying also. It was a goddamn family tragedy, everyone dying all the time!
Barker, under the same pressure to keep upping the stakes that derails blockbuster movie franchises, next accused a co-worker of threatening to murder her. She then said a couple of masked thugs ambushed her in a parking lot and threatened to end her if she ever trash-talked that other teacher again.
She had finally pushed it too far. When the cops investigated that claim, everything fell to shit. Barker admitted she'd made up all the illnesses and had just been hanging out at home the whole time. Well, there and Legoland.
You've probably heard about the odd lowlife who's faked cancer in your day. It happens with surprising regularity. So a story about a TSA agent faking cancer might not sound super surprising at first. It's the TSA, for god's sake. No one likes that job. But Marc Bess was no ordinary cancer-faker. This guy was a goddamn marathon cancer-faker. He faked it for five years.
In 2009, Bess handed in a letter at work saying that he had been diagnosed with lymphoma and was undergoing treatment. He would need to get out of work regularly, as his treatments required weekly radiation therapy. Weekly meaning every Friday. Long weekend, boys!
Until 2014, Bess continued to hand in letters from fake doctors that he was printing himself at home. Shit hit the fan in July of that year, when Bess foolishly handed in a note without realizing that the doctor he'd claimed signed it had, in fact, died a couple of months earlier. It's hard to keep up with the health of your doctor if you never actually see him.
During Bess' epic five-year fraud, he racked up 2,240 hours of sick leave. If he's working a 40-hour work week, that means he literally took an entire year off and still got paid for it. And if you're wondering how he got paid, wonder no more! The TSA lets employees gift their sick days to other employees. So Bess' co-workers actually pooled their resources to give him all that paid time off at their own expense, to the tune of about $60,000. And what did Bess do with it? Let's assume he was sitting in his boxers, eating Fritos.
Naturally, Bess was fired as soon as he was found out, but he also faced some criminal prosecution. Bess pleaded guilty to fraud, and got eight months in jail for his trouble, as well as having to pay back $62,000 in restitution. Was getting every Friday off for five years worth all that? Yeah, probably.
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How did these hyper-specific tropes spread so quickly?
The Hollywood rumor mill has been playing games with celebrity deaths for at least a century.