Hello, boss? I gotta code in my node . . .

Now that the cold/flu season is giving way to the pollen/allergy season, it's time to re-evaluate our use of employee sick days through a new feature: Ask Dr. Bedhead.

Not sure whether you're ill enough to call in sick? Feeling guilty because others are working while you're home under a blanket, watching soap operas and sucking on cough drops? Dr. Bedhead is here to assuage your fears, diagnose your ailments and offer you just the right excuse to give your boss.

Dear Dr. Bedhead: I suffer from severe allergies which cause repeated sneezing fits. This is embarrassing in the workplace, and my co-workers shun me. Should I call in sick when I'm having an allergy attack?

Dear Sneezy: Of course you should! You're entitled to sick days. If your boss complains about your absenteeism, try sneezing directly on his shirt. Sure, this is unsanitary, but it will quickly change his tune.

Dear Dr. Bedhead: I sometimes call in sick when, in reality, I'm suffering from a severe hangover. Should I feel guilty?

Dear Rummy: Of course not! If you're sick, you're sick, no matter the cause. A hangover is a self-inflicted wound, but it hurts nevertheless. Better that you should stay home, nursing yourself back to health with steady doses of Bloody Marys, than exposing your co-workers to your pasty skin, pounding head and steady nausea. If they see you in that condition, they could develop a superiority complex.

Dear Dr. Bedhead: I can never remember -- is it feed a cold and starve a fever, or the other way around?

Dear Hungry: Haha, you're such a simpleton. These old homilies have nothing to do with modern medicine. One of the great joys of the "sick day" is that you get to stay home all day -- eating. Preferably sweets. Nothing makes you feel better than, say, a pan of brownies on a sniffly day. You should "feed" all your ailments unless you are actively throwing up.

Dear Dr. Bedhead: When I'm ill, I just want to sleep all day. This seems to take all the fun out of a sick day. Am I missing something?

Dear Sleepy: Not at all! A good 12-hour nap is often just what the body needs to recover. Unfortunately, most jobs don’t allow such rest periods at the desk, so a sick day is required. As for what you're missing by sleeping all day, just tune in to daytime TV sometime. You'll see you're not missing anything at all.

Dear Dr. Bedhead: Sometimes, I just don't feel like working. Maybe I stayed up too late, watching old movies, or I'm in a bad mood or it's Monday. I'm running out of excuses, and I think my boss suspects that I'm faking. What should I do?

Dear Lazy: The miracle of modern medicine is that we have an endless supply of illnesses you can cite when calling in sick. But, in fact, you don't need to get specific when phoning your boss. Simply blame an ailment that's so personal that your manager is afraid to ask questions. If you're a woman, just say it's "female trouble." The boss will hang up so fast, he'll bark his knuckles on the phone. If you're male, start to explain that you have a "persistent itch." Believe me, your boss won't want to hear the rest.

Dear Dr. Bedhead: I am a very healthy person and take pride in my physical fitness. My slothful co-workers, who have bad habits, often call in sick, which means I'm required to do their work as well as my own. I think this is unfair. What do you think?

Dear Surly: I think you're a petty person who puts his own needs before those of the infirm. In fact, there's probably something wrong with you, an undiagnosed psychological instability of some kind. You should take a "mental health day" right away. Stay home under a blanket, eat some brownies, watch TV. I'll bet you'll be back to your old pleasant self in no time! Your co-workers will thank you!

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