I called in sick today.
This was something of a fib, of course; I called in because in about an hour we're headed to Ann Arbor to see the GYN and oncologist. So shoot me.
Our organization follows an arcane system of calculating time off -- in a given fiscal year, if you don't use sick days they turn into vacation days, or personal hours, in a formula that I frankly haven't understood for the seven years I've worked there. And unused time-off days don't roll over into the next fiscal year, so there's an underlying message to "Use 'em or lose 'em."
We have vacation days, but given the immediacy of our situation it would have been bizarre to put in for a sudden, "emergency" vacation day. We have a limited number of personal days, but I tend to whittle those away hour by hour for things like my own doctors' appointments and other necessary personal "bidness" that I can't manage during my lunchtime. So withdrawing from my infrequently used bank of sick days seemed the most prudent thing to do in the circumstances.
Awhile back, on public radio, I heard a great audio editorial suggesting that employers get real about their employees' need to take time off for reasons that don't fall neatly into systematized categories, and just call all time off "personal time." Put it all into one big pot that an employee can draw on whether s/he's in bed with the flu, stuck at the mechanic's for a day with vehicle problems, planning a week off for a vacation, attending to another family member's needs, or just in need of a "mental health day"? What would be so hard about this? What would be the down side? It seems to me that it would protect employee privacy, which in turn would promote honesty -- if you don't have to justify or categorize why you need time off, you don't have to lie or equivocate about it.