The NCAA Tournament comes around every year, which is great for those of us who believe it to be the greatest postseason event in sports — the first two days of which are particularly dramatic and exciting. But the reliability of this annual phenomenon comes with a downside — your boss knows that at best you’re going to slack off more than usual during these two days and at worst you’ll be calling him or her at 7 a.m. using your best Ferris Bueller voice. (“Boss, sorry to call you so early — I have SARS, for real.”) To help you avoid making a mistake that, although probably worth it, could cost you months of income, here are some tips for enjoying March Madness despite the fact that you’re one of the 90 percent of Americans who unfortunately has a job.
Watch the games online
This might seem contrary to the entire premise, but before you schedule a fake honeymoon March 15-16 consider whether or not your workplace allows TV streaming on special occasions. You don’t want to be sitting at home burning up vacation days if you’re missing the two days of the year Lumbergh isn’t going to be standing over your desk asking for TPS reports.
CBSsports.com offers all 67 games of the NCAA Tournament for a one-time price of $3.99 — this includes streaming on your computer or iPhone, iPad and certain Android phones. Just pop the little screen into the top right corner of your monitor and try not to yell out loud if you see a 360 dunk. (www.ncaa.com/march-madness)
Don’t go to work
This scenario is often easier said than done. If you work at a place that doesn’t care when you take vacation days, first spend some time considering how valuable you actually are to the organization. If the situation doesn’t concern you (and you have no interest in spending non-work time doing some form of remedial training that might make you relevant to supervisors), then follow the proper protocol and enjoy your half-day.
If you expect your boss to be all >:-( when she finds your vacation day request on her desk, then you need to get creative. First, figure out when the most important games are scheduled — you don’t want to put your plan into action Thursday morning only to realize your precious South Dakota State Jackrabbits don’t play until 7:27 that night. (Should have just gone to work.)
Second, consult your employee handbook to figure out whether or not your boss can bust you up for skipping out. Trying to schedule a personal day, for example, during March Madness can be risky, as others might have already beaten you to it, or your boss can simply say “Naw — I’m taking the day off; you’re going to do all my stuff.” For this reason, sick days are the way to go. Most employee handbooks will state something along the lines of, “These days are not earned and may require proof of an employee’s inability to work, such as a written evaluation from an attending physician.” Seeing a physician on short notice is easy — Urgent Care only costs $50.
Let’s say your boss is hip to your attempts to get out of work because you regularly miss shifts during baseball season to attend day games and come in late every Monday during football season. It’s likely that your boss follows sports and knows you’re a slacker. Getting out of work during the NCAA Tournament is not going to be easy.
Your excuse for suddenly being unable to work is going to take some physical evidence (it’s probably safe to assume your boss is familiar with the Urgent Care trick). Many people consider slings, ankle braces and various sports injury wraps to be solid evidence of recently sustained, painful injuries that are worthy of rest at home. They are not. Upon your return, you will be kicked in the bad ankle, poked in the wrapped shoulder or asked to remove the Ace bandage that you for some reason fashioned around your forearm. Don’t risk it.
Instead, take a sheet of sandpaper and rub it lightly across the side of your forehead. It is important to do this very lightly at first, as sandpaper is extremely coarse and will scrape you up with a quickness. Don’t be overzealous — a household accident shouldn’t result in a scar for life, just a Thursday off and a Friday without paranoia. The scrape will look much worse on Friday — fresh scabs and redness — than it will on Monday, so long as you don’t venture into the realm of the fake concussion (you’ll need to sandpaper an additional part of the face and the elbow and wrist on one arm for that).
Control your computer remotely
Not up for the fake injury? No worries — there are plenty of legitimate reasons for not taking things that far. But if your employer knows that every year the NCAA Tournament costs companies nearly $200 million in lost productivity, then you’re probably looking at a no-day-off policy and perhaps worse — a badass company-wide firewall. But don’t fret — there exists a Boston-based company that knows how important it is for some people to access their PCs remotely.
Logmein.com works like this: On your home computer — PC or Mac — go to logmein.com, download the software and set up a username and password. Leave your home computer powered on and make sure the sleep settings aren’t enabled, then go to work and see if your company’s firewall is smart enough to block logmein.com (it won’t be). Simply sign in with your username and password and guess what you’ll see: your home computer’s desktop inside your work’s browser, which will enable you to open a browser remotely and sign into CBSsports.com and watch all the games. According to the company: “LogMeIn solutions have connected more than 125 million devices worldwide, most of which were used for watching basketball.”©