Faking ill – why studying Drama is a Good Career Choice

Posted: November 7, 2011 in comedy
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Many people believe that in order to “make it” in the corporate rat race you have to possess certain essential skills that without which you cannot hope to survive: skills such as mathematics, computer literacy and good language skills. Other skills get sidelined as unnecessary, superfluous and extraneous (the extra adjectives are redundant I just wanted to show how gooder my language skills is). How often are we told that it is a waste to study subjects like Art or Music at school? How is that going to help us become a corporate banker? Probably the first subject on the chopping block is that of Drama.

However, having never studied Drama, because my school never offered it (and if it had, it was the type of school where studying such a subject would have resulted in getting the living snot kicked out of you) I can tell you that it is a skill I wish I possessed.

For there are times at work when the skills of the dramatically inclined are in great demand, for feigning interest for 8 hours a day, for pretending to find the boss’s jokes funny and not least of all making convincing “phoning in sick” calls.

We all know the feeling when we just need a day off, but don’t have the leave and all it will take to avoid the stress and boredom of another soul destroying day in the office is one simple phone call to the boss to say you’re not well. All of a sudden the skills of the dramatist become far more important than numeracy skills, a Microsoft Excel certification or snappy Powerpoint presentation abilities. This is pure, raw acting for survival.

It requires just the right amount of volume control, making your audience believe that every breath let alone every word is a struggle requiring every ounce of your concentration. The word to cough/splutter ratio is also important. Too few coughs and you don’t sound all that sick, but too many and you sound as if you’re faking it – this is acting on a knife’s edge.

There are a few easy ways out that the non actors amongst us have developed to try get around our obvious shortcomings and to avoid too much interrogation by our bosses: conditions such as “gastro”, “food poisoning” or the all too common, yet all medically undocumented, “24 hour flu”.

We feel like these ailments are too personal or disgusting for reproach, like the gender neutral equivalent to the “get out of jail (work) card” of “women’s problems”. A veritable “don’t ask, don’t tell” situation, if ever I’ve seen one. Men have been stuck without a gender specific truancy alibi because unfortunately “Men’s problems” such as “depressed about the soccer result” or “hung over” didn’t appear to be dire enough and so because most men, having been deprived of the opportunity to study drama, have resorted to these easy outs rather than applying themselves to more enterprising ailments.

However the overuse of these alibis has caused them to become synonymous with bunking and the shirking of work rather than the concern for health of one’s fellow employees (which is why we take sick days is it not?)

So I suppose the point is, let you children study drama and maybe attend a few adult classes yourself if you really want to get ahead in life. Failing, which just study really hard and become a doctor so you can write your own doctor’s notes.

Or at the very least become close friends with a doctor who could write you sick notes in times of need or a few undated ones – the blank cheque of time off. Just make sure he’s a medical doctor and not a psychiatrist. There is something a little disconcerting when you boss receives a sick note from your psychiatrist saying “Gareth is unwell and not suitable for work”


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