Men, there’s something about that period of time between Labor Day and Thanksgiving that gets kind of… repetitive. The holiday season is still a ways off, the weather is suffering from an identity crisis and the work week is really starting to drone. Your motorcycle has been covered on a parking lift in the garage all summer. Your Corvette’s suspension needs a little tuning. The Honda needs an oil change. Your Camry’s spoiler has graffiti all over it and needs a paint job because Camrys with spoilers are super sweet, you keep telling yourself. Basically, you need a reason to get out of all that life stuff they’re making you do and chill in the garage. If they can’t handle that, doesn’t matter, ‘cos they’ll have no idea where you are or what you’re doing. When you can’t find another way out, here’s how to get it done without getting caught.
- Call in sick
Level of difficulty: Easy
Risk of getting caught: Low – Medium
The old Ferris Bueller routine. Of course, this only works as a “weekend getaway” if you actually work on the weekend, but you can always choose to extend your weekend into Friday or Monday. It’s easy to pull this one off; most of us have done it at one point or another. A simple email or phone call is all it takes. Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t even need to “sound sick,” and you should never provide excessive detail. Don’t make up a long story you have to stick to, remember and defend later.
I woke up with a sore throat and have a doctor appointment this afternoon. I won’t be able to make it in today but expect to be back Monday. Thanks.
The less you say, the better. If you don’t have any sick days to use, this probably isn’t the best option, but those sick days are yours, so you might as well use ‘em! (Just hope you don’t need those days in case you actually get sick.)
The beauty of the call-in, especially if it’s a weekday, is that most distractions are avoided: friends and family all assume you’re at work, and the kids are at school, so no one is there to bother you. Still, we’re calling this a medium-risk operation because your story may depend on a few factors. If you live alone or manage to get everyone out of the house, it should be no sweat. If you’re married, hopefully the wife understands and lets you have the day without offering a list of life chores she feels you might as well accomplish if you’re going to be home, anyway.
If you need to hide this little thing from everyone, spouse included, you run a few extra risks. For one, your wife loves you (hopefully) and might come home at lunch to check up on you. She might even take off early. It’s not like you’re cheating (hopefully), but it won’t look good if she hears Toby Keith blasting halfway down the block and finds her supposedly sick hubby happily covered in grease and oil. Low places, indeed.
For an easy operation, however, the sick day is a classic for a reason. It’s easy to pull off and probably won’t carry many risks. Whatever you do, just don’t over-explain yourself at the start. Think how you are when you’re truly sick: you don’t say much, life sucks and you hate everything. Channel the rage, men. Channel the rage.
- Arrange a sleepover or playhouse-type for the kids
Level of difficulty: Easy
Risk of getting caught: Low
It might be that your partner is totally cool with whatever you do in your free time. That’s why you married her, right? But those kids! They’re needy, loud, unpredictable and gosh, we just love ‘em! We’d do anything for them, of course. So why not get them out of the house while also being the cool dad? That’s two dad wins right there. This one’s easy to set up, but it may take some planning. Getting a parent you trust to host a sleepover isn’t really a big deal, and you’ll have an extended period of peace to get things done in the garage. Life is on hold when the kids are away. Holding your brand new, zinc-plated steel coil over spanner wrench, that is.
As an alternative to the sleepover, look to the playhouse for escape! If there’s another parent who can supervise the rug rats as they run around Chuck-E-Cheese, for instance, they’ll get to sip watered-down light beer and nibble on the yellow-stained cardboard they pass off for cheese pizza until those repetitive, goofball songs blasting out of an old set of dying speakers jammed inside four or five horrifying human-sized animatronic dolls actually start to sound like something that resembles real music. If you need to close this deal badly, offer to pay for the whole thing and offer to supervise the next favor. Of course, it might be that your kids are old enough to handle themselves without adult supervision. A simple drive out and back, and you’re golden!
This one’s low-risk because you’re not really sneaking out of anything. However, we could increase that risk to medium if it’s actually your turn to chaperone. If this is the case, we recommend hitting the sick button. Use whatever’s realistic for you: if you’re prone to migraines, fake migraines. Sore throats, green tummies, locked bathrooms, etc. are all good options to sell the falsehood. Just know how much time you have to work with and don’t get caught under the car, or you’re in the doghouse for a long, long time.
- All-day spa treatment & massage for the wife
Level of difficulty: Low
Risk of getting caught: None
The only downsides to getting the wife out of the house this way are (1) it costs a bit of money, and (2) you have to align your garage time precisely with when she goes. At the same time, you can always use your gift to her as leverage for getting time alone in the garage. You can’t get “caught” when you’re not lying, so there’s no risk involved here. We don’t recommend framing to your beloved that you need her out of the house so you can get some time to yourself, obviously. Just enjoy the husband points and play it off like it’s all a loving token of your appreciation. There are certainly worse things than this, gentlemen.
- Just fall off the grid
Level of difficulty: Medium
Risk of getting caught: Medium
This may be our personal favorite. Falling off the grid is the easiest thing to do in the age of the smart phone. At first glance, it seems difficult. For one, people assume you’re available on your phone 24/7, 365. If you don’t answer, they might get suspicious, offended, worried, etc. Two, it’s just kind of hard to keep away from the tech that surrounds us because it freaking surrounds us. But here’s how to fall off without being caught.
Option 1: Turn off message receipts on your phone. If people can see what time you open their texts, don’t open their texts! Alternatively, just turn off that feature in your settings menu, or it will be obvious that you’re ignoring them. Like how you know last week’s Tinder date who blew you off last night without a word isn’t “just seeing this text now” because you can see she certainly opened it two days ago and posted random stuff all last night on Facebook from the bars when she said just two days ago how she was all excited to hang out with you but you know what forget it you don’t need her anyway she’s not even that hot so it’s totally whatever just tell the truth you know? We’re not getting off topic, are we? Naaaaw.
Option 2: Turn your phone off. Simple if you have the discipline, or you can invest in this Kickstarter campaign aimed at getting people off their phones by literally locking them (the phones, not the people) in a timed lock-box for a set period of time. The horror, though, of being without your phone for several hours at a time.
Option 3: Tell people you dropped your phone in the toilet and had to dry it out all day in a bag of rice. “Works great now, Dad!”
Option 4: Likewise, maybe you “left it in an Uber,” and the driver “took a few hours longer than you thought” to get it back to you. If you’re gonna fib, keep it short, simple and ultra-believable.
- Plan to attend a group outing and bail out last-minute
Level of difficulty: Hard
Risk of getting caught: Medium – High
This is where you get to play Ocean’s 11 with everybody you know. Maybe that’s intimidating. Maybe it’s the most exciting thing since sliced bread. Either way, this method is not the recommended path to take if any others are available. If we’re being totally honest, though, sometimes enough is enough. Last week you visited the in-laws; the week before was your cousin’s wedding; the week before that you had a family vacation to the Dells; the week before that you tried to get some work done, but your youngest came down with the flu and required constant attention. Etc. Etc. Etc. You know how it goes. The world is always playing hardball with your time, so sometimes you need to play a little hardball back to settle the score.
The risks here are substantial. If you can’t get out of it, you’re gonna look like the big jerk who always tries to bail last-minute on your commitments, which, let’s face it, you sort of are doing, but let’s not think about that right now. Let’s just work on getting your plan sealed like the valve chamber in your car lift’s hydraulic cylinder: no leaks.
First, make sure the event is something your partner/kids/friends won’t cancel as a result of you bailing on them. Day trips are the best events to bail on because you can always make it up later that evening. Letting less than 24 hours pass between the thing you were supposed to do and the make-up event is the smart approach. You’ll come off as still being interested and engaged, and ultimately, there’s less risk of you damaging your personal relationships. There is one very important detail to consider, however: whether you say you’re going to be out of the house or at home at the time you bail. There’s pros and cons to each choice, so you’ll have to decide which fits your situation.
“Sorry man, my grandma’s coming over, and she’s like, ancient, so I can’t get out of it.” If someone swings by your house, you’re going to have some ‘splainin’ to do, especially if your garage door is open and your feet are sticking out from under your portable car lift. Good luck redeeming yourself from that one. On the other hand, if you’re home, it might be less of a problem to be spotted because you’re right where you said you’d be. Up to you to work out the kinks.
This is tricky because you’re not going to be where you said you’d be. If you’re spotted at home, game over. On the other hand, people are less likely to be in the area if they don’t think you’re around. No one’s going to make that last-ditch effort to show up at your doorstep and try to convince you to come out.
The above scenarios work with friends, but what about escaping family? They’re in your house, after all, and are pretty hip to everything you have tried, are trying or might try to do. Lying to family is risky and less advised for many reasons, but among them is the fact that you don’t want to set a bad example for your kids. You also don’t want a suspicious wife. Like we said, if you’re making the decision to play hardball, you need to go all out. No halvsies.
- Don’t use your friends as an excuse. Friends stick up for you no matter what, and they’ll gladly place a well-timed call to get you out of a jam. You know that thing people do when they want out of a bad date, so they have their friend call with an emergency that requires their immediate attention? Yeah, basically just never do that. It’ll create and/or reinforce the idea that your friends take precedence over your family.
- Use work as an excuse. Nothing is sure but death and taxes, right? Your work is your livelihood and takes precedence over virtually every social call outside weddings, funerals, birthdays and anniversaries. You can’t pull on this string all the time, or the thick, wooly sweater that is your lie will unravel and leave you naked and exposed. So what should you say? It really depends on the situation.
For the office employee: “Ugh, my boss needs me to come into the office for a major project. If I don’t show, I’ll never get that promotion.”
For the teacher: “The entire curriculum is changing and I have to make new lesson plans to accommodate. This is ridiculous. They treat us so bad there.”
For the salesman: “I forgot about a mandatory training on a new product. I can’t miss it. I’m so sorry.”
You get the idea. Again, you probably only get one work-related excuse per year if you really want to stay under the radar, so fib wisely.
Word to the wise
If you’ve ever watched Jerry Springer, he ends each episode with a “Final Thought,” a reflection on life, love and/or relationships. The moment stands in stark contrast to the rest of the show because it’s quiet, kind and everyone keeps their clothes on. Here’s our “Final Thought” moment. Lying your way through life is the way to unhappiness and sets you out on a pattern of selfish behaviors that compromise your character, as well as your relationships. Sometimes we need to get away with little things here and there for our own sanity, but don’t overly abuse the light-hearted advice we’re offering to the point it has a damaging impact on your life. That being said, definitely find some time to work on your car this weekend. You’ve earned it.