How do I get off work for an interview?
October 9, 2008 7:17 AM   Subscribe

I being flown out for an interview on Friday the 17th. My current boss doesn't know I've been looking for another job. I need to ask for the time off without telling the truth, but there are a few complications.

First off, I have to tell my boss in advance. I work at a field office that has to be manned during working hours. I am often the only employee there. My boss can't always send a replacement out at a moment's notice, but with a few days' notice, it is a minor inconvenience. (I was sick on Monday, but I had to drag myself to go in since my boss didn't want to man the field office himself.)

Including me, there are four employees. It is a close-knit environment, so my lie has to stand up. Also, I don't have privacy, so saying I need a personal day won't cut it unless I can give details.

I don't want to use a dead relative since that will garner me too much sympathy, especially from the bleeding-heart co-worker.

I have to be very careful with any medical excuse since one of my co-workers is a former nurse. Again, I won't have privacy here, and will have to discuss any ailment in convincingly accurate detail.

I have already requested this Monday the 13th off because my sister is visiting for a long weekend. I still haven't confirmed that I'll get that day off, but I am taking family pictures, and I don't get to see my sister very often. Taking two days off in a week without a strong reason won't cut it.

I can't be honest with my boss about looking for another job. If I am, I will likely be "let go" or he will treat me in a completely different way. Nor can I enlist a conspirator- my co-workers are either long time friends with my boss or related, and will immediately tell him.

Tell me, what do I say? (I will answer followup questions through Jessamyn if needed.)
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (29 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm in the same relative boat. Calling in sick or the ever helpful "doctors appointment" should be useful to you.
posted by Ponderance at 7:23 AM on October 9, 2008

Read your question a bit closer than my skim. My above mentioned advice was fairly useless. Okay. So. I would angle for an extra day as family is in town, never get to see them.

Tough one.
posted by Ponderance at 7:25 AM on October 9, 2008

I think I'd be inclined to switch: give up the Monday off and go for the Friday only. Then you can say with all honesty that you hardly ever see your sister and let the office think that her schedule changed. You've already got a day off and a working excuse: use them for Friday and try to skeeve off early on Monday (you're not feeling well) to spend time with your sister.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:37 AM on October 9, 2008

Er, I don't see why your coworkers need to know any details. You have the right to ask for a day off without providing any reason. If someone asks for details, just repeat the same thing over several times, without changing anything:

"I have a doctor's appointment. It's not serious but I can't avoid it."

"I have a doctor's appointment. It's my routine, annual checkup. Nothing serious"

"My wife/SO/GF has an appointment and she needs me to be with her."

"My kid has an appointment and I need to be there."

"I'm going out of town with my wife/GF/SO, and need a 3-day weekend."

There are loads of things you can say that so not seem suspicious and are perfectly normal. If anyone asks for details, brush them off. It's none of their business anyway.
posted by camworld at 7:38 AM on October 9, 2008 [4 favorites]

I have to be very careful with any medical excuse since one of my co-workers is a former nurse. Again, I won't have privacy here, and will have to discuss any ailment in convincingly accurate detail.

This seems like the best idea. Doctor's appointment for something. Just research something you feel will merit the fewest followup questions, perhaps dick or poo related?
posted by By The Grace of God at 7:39 AM on October 9, 2008

Fuck "I don't have privacy." Get some. If you're planning on leaving sometime soon anyway, then it shouldn't make much of a difference for you to simply say, "Family emergency," and refuse to elaborate. They may not like it, but they won't fire you.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 7:46 AM on October 9, 2008

You're having some new appliances installed / some work done on the plumbing / a much-needed and urgent repair on your heating system and need to be home all day to supervise the strangers who will be in your house.
posted by anastasiav at 7:49 AM on October 9, 2008

Some sort of dental semi-emergency? Or eyes? Perhaps a scratched cornea. A scratched cornea could heal on its own in a few (1-3?) days, but could make you unable to work due to Vicadin and light sensitivity. Good luck. It certainly sounds like you need a new job.
posted by paulg at 7:50 AM on October 9, 2008

A vacation day?

Or, need to visit a relative who was recently committed to and released from a mental hospital. That way, you can not have all the details but it is hard to say no.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:50 AM on October 9, 2008

Learn to say, "It's personal." What you do with your time off is no one's business but your own.
posted by shallowcenter at 7:56 AM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Also, I don't have privacy, so saying I need a personal day won't cut it unless I can give details.

I'm kind of confused by this. Everyone has privacy. Are you working for family or something that makes this harder than normal?

All you have to do is say 'I need a personal day on Friday.'

And answer any questions with an eye roll or mournful 'I don't want to get into it.'
posted by A Terrible Llama at 8:12 AM on October 9, 2008

I agree with all the comments saying to just exert your privacy, and declare your reason without need for answering assholish questions for details.

But if you don't want to do this, or can't, then I'd do the following: lay the groundwork at the appropriate time for a home-related need. Like, on Tuesday of next week, say, "This morning, I noticed a wet spot on my drywall, weird..." or something like that. You can even make a fake call to a willing accomplice who's willing to just hold the phone while you make the appropriate conversation to seem as if you're getting someone to come out and look at it off-hours Tuesday evening. Then the next day, say that the person found a pipe leaking behind the wall that must get fixed ASAP. Say that they were able to put a temporary patch in place until they could come back Friday and fix it for good.
posted by delfuego at 8:18 AM on October 9, 2008

Tell him you need a day off for personal reasons. If he asks, tell him "it's personal, I'd rather not talk about it."

Anyone who kept pushing me for more information than that would get my resignation on the spot.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:22 AM on October 9, 2008

Tell them that there's an issue with your man or woman parts and that you need to see a doctor ASAP. That should get you some much-needed privacy.
posted by sid at 8:24 AM on October 9, 2008

i think saying "it's personal" or go get privacy is not an option and that's why it was mentioned as such in the original post. it's not so much that they outlawed privacy at his job, so much as he has a relationship with his co-workers/boss where they would feel comfortable asking for the additional details. it's more likely that co-workers will be offended, speculate, cave into paranoia, etc. if OP says, "it's personal" which could negatively effect his relationship with his co-workers.

i hear you, OP. i have been in the situation in the past. if i needed time off, i really had to have a reason, and chances are my co-workers knew about everything going on in my life, by virtue of us being a close, small unit. i have shied away from this in any position since.

in this situation, i agree with the person upthread who said to imply that your sister's plans have changed. either they have changed her dates to where you only need friday off (instead of columbus monday) or BOTH! in any case, perhaps on friday, she needs a ride to airport, or has a specific thing to do on friday that mandates your presence.

in the meantime, give the OP a break. he is writing about his unique situation.
posted by alice ayres at 8:28 AM on October 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

I totally agree with what jrodsgirl is saying, and I've worked at places where everyone is very close.

But at the same time, even if your boss is your best friend from gradeschool, I think it's reasonable to be able to say, "It's personal and I'd just rather not get into it" once or twice in your life, ya know?

Personally, I wouldn't lie if it could be avoided. Because 1) I don't like lying and having to worry about keeping your lies straight, and 2) if you take the new job, your old boss is going to figure out you were lying. It sounds like you're pretty close to your co-workers now, so it would suck to leave behind hurt feelings.
posted by meta_eli at 8:41 AM on October 9, 2008

How old are you? If over 40 (I think that's the age) say you have a colonoscopy scheduled, no one will want to ask anymore questions.

You could claim jury duty, but they would probably want to see receipts.

This is rather elaborate, but you could also over a span of several days concoct a story how your pipes have burst and after a series of god awful plumbers fail to solve it, the head guy can only come on Friday so you need the day off. Obviously you'd have to give some thought to this story to really pull it off. You might be able to give the story more credence by claiming that you really need to get this fixed before your sister comes.

One word of warning, I would have a good explanation for your would be employer too. I have been asked in interviews where I told my current boss I was.
posted by whoaali at 8:47 AM on October 9, 2008

Even if you arent over 40, you can have a colonoscopy. There is a askme about what to expect that you can read, preparing you for nurse questions.

It's quite simple: "I've had digestive issues more lately. These kinds of things run in my family. They just want to check it out". No one likes to talk about BM's with anyone, so I imagine they will drop it after one question.

Just remember that they can't see you can't eat anything the day prior, as per your doctor's orders. Just broth, jello and gatorade (not red). And you have to start your "prep" at 2PM for a morning appointment. You'd need to leave in the mid-afternoon to be with your bathroom.
posted by beachhead2 at 9:07 AM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Question about colonoscopy.
posted by beachhead2 at 9:08 AM on October 9, 2008

I tell my boss I have an appointment. Nothing more, nothing less.
posted by deezil at 9:12 AM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

If I was in your situation I'd ask for a day off without being specific about the reasons (e.g. "I need to take a personal day on Friday, I've got an appointment for something personal") then if anyone asks for more information I would deflect their question with an obvious joke.

For example: "My penis is so big it hurts my partner, I'm talking to my doctor about penis reduction surgery" or "I would make a weekend appointment but friday is the only day my favourite prostitute is free" or "I'm going to rob your house and I want to do it while you're in work" or "I've got to go to court because last weekend I shot a man in reno just to watch him die" etc - you get the picture.

Or you could just come up with a mundane lie, like "I'm having a look at a cheap second-hand car but I have to travel quite a long way to pick it up" then next week say "The car had gone by the time I got there, I think it was a scam to get customers to visit their showroom".
posted by Mike1024 at 9:39 AM on October 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

I tell my boss I have an appointment. Nothing more, nothing less.

I used this when I had to travel out of town to finalize my divorce. It was "an appointment I just couldn't reschedule." She didn't ask for any details since I treated it as something I'd rather not do, but had to.

In your case, just act like you need to do something odious that is SO BORING that you can't imagine wanting to talk about it. "I just need the day off to get this stupid thing over with." Anybody who really REALLY bugs you about it, I would take Mike1024's advice to just turn it into a big joke.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:55 AM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

What would you do if your sister/girlfriend (if you're a straight boy or gay girl)/girl friend/young female cousin whose parents would literally throw her out of the house if they found out she was pregnant was scheduled to have an abortion on Friday and wanted you to be there so she wouldn't have to be alone? Do that.
posted by nooneyouknow at 11:08 AM on October 9, 2008

Are you single? Tell them you have a date. If they press for details, say that you don't know the person that well. Come Monday, you can say that it didn't go that well, and you'd rather not talk about it.

But really, despite it being a small group and all, get in the habit of having privacy.
posted by qvtqht at 11:19 AM on October 9, 2008

"Family emergency" is best. You can always say that it is really personal and you can't explain further right now.

Of course, no matter what excuse you give, if you come back with a new job everyone knows you're a big fat liar. Is that ok?
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:25 AM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Telling a lie as an excuse is the easiest way to get caught. Say "it's personal and I don't want to talk about it" and leave it at that.
posted by turaho at 12:51 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Who takes an entire day off for a doctor's appointment?

"Look, it's really personal and I don't want to talk about it okay?"
posted by rokusan at 2:43 PM on October 9, 2008

I vote for the "I have to wait for the repair guy all day to fix the appliance" excuse. It's tedious, it takes all day, it's not something the nurse can vet as sounding plausible, you probably don't have to show photographs of it.

Answering the previous poster: I've taken an entire day off for a doctor's appointment, when I had to go out of town for it. (The local doesn't cover everything.) Or if I had to get a lot of fillings done.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:33 PM on October 9, 2008

What about about being disingenuous instead of outright lying? Can you handle that? Just say "appointment" and act like it's a horribly embarrassing personal nightmare thing with probes and laying naked on a cold table.

Act martyred and ashamed if anyone wants details.

That's not truthful, but you can tell yourself it's not a lie.

Or maybe you can just plan to do that as a backup, if you can do what turaho says.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 8:34 PM on October 9, 2008

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