The Mystery of the Sick Leave

Sophie Breuleux
on May 31, 2016

This morning, my thermometer showed 26 degrees Celsius, one degree over the perfect temperature. It was in this scorching heat that I arrived at work. About half an hour after my arrival, and after I was done filing my documents in alphabetical order on my computer (the dreadful machine keeps shuffling them around), I decided to test an avant-garde trick gleaned from the pamphlet I had once found on my desk, titled “Being a Good Coworker”.

The theory–genius, pure genius–goes as follow: by handing out a present to a colleague without asking for monetary compensation, you trick the subject into thinking positively of you. Uses are endless: promotion, blackmail, you name it.

I had experimented with numerous offerings: crayons, spoons, stamps, coupons, condiments, gerbils, but nothing worked as well (or at all) as coffee, a hard drug that I had never personally used or condoned.

I found a warm cup full of the revolting narcotic in the break room, and took it to my least annoying colleague, Mr. Young. But he was not there! How odd! Was he late? What was I to do with the coffee? To drink it was unfathomable.

I tried offering it to another colleague, who refused. Dear God, was she smarter than she appeared?

Five minutes later, I went back to find Mr. Young, who should have arrived since, but no. He had not. Why would that be? Was he dead? I glanced at the man he was sharing his workplace with, in case he had murdered poor Mr. Young, but his eyes revealed nothing more than their usual bleakness.

What had happened to the poor sod? Then it hit me: he was skipping work. I knew he was not on vacation, because people babble about it and I would have known. What could he possibly be missing work for?

I had to investigate.

I shall spare you the details, as they are already given in the electronic mail I sent my superior, Mr. Laberge.

You may find the full text of our exchanges below:

From: Anatole Lafeuille

To: Alain Laberge

Subject : “Sick” leave

Dear Mister Laberge,

This morning at 9:33, I noticed the absence of employee #60751, also known as Francis Young. Considering he comes in everyday at 9:03, a thirty minute discrepancy in his usual tardiness was suspect. Being the reasonable man that I am, I assumed that he must have been held back by an urgent matter: a flat tire? Family issues? Broken legs? Death?

My leniency and compassion nonetheless had their limits. After waiting a reasonable amount of time, I started investigating. I first interrogated his colleagues, Amanda, Samuel and Henry. I was rudely rebuked, which only increased my suspicion of their involvement in a heinous crime.

Their suspicious behaviour went as follow:

I did not heed Henry's “advice”.

I went to the human resources department where, after a heated argument–you should consider hiring competent people–I was informed of Mr. Young’s “illness”. Illness? I had not been witness to any definite signs of illness (elevated body temperature, running nose, blackening of the toes, etc.) I went to his house—I had acquired his address through another investigation. I cannot tell you more about it, however, because of obvious privacy issues.

When I got there, everything clicked into place. There he was, in his hammock. He was not sick! Au contraire! He was enjoying himself, eyes closed—a sure sign of vicious psychopathy, photographic proof attached—and in his closed fist was a smartphone, which could only have been used to coordinate his truancy with his colleagues and accomplices, Amanda, Samuel and Henry!

I know you must be devastated, as you had planned to go golfing with Mr. Young on July 12, and his demise and subsequent public shaming shall force you to cancel, but justice is better served dished out.

Your most devoted employee,

Anatole Lafeuille,
Accounting clerk

Nota bene: please note that I did not investigate during work hours. My detective work was swiftly accomplished during my dinner hour.

I did not hear back from Mr. Laberge, but I knew that justice had been dished out. Mr. Young was not fired, probably a symptom of Mr. Laberge’s leniency, but his watery eyes and leaky nose clearly betrayed the stern talking to he had received.

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