Remember the ecstasy of childhood malingering, pulling off a convincing cough and a pitiful expression, all for the glory of watching soaps while imagining your peers toiling over math problems? Good news! That same delicious schadenfreude is available to us as adults.

A contrarian by nature, I believe that exulting in the forbidden every so often wakes us up, reminds us we're alive. There's something thrilling about reaffirming that the world is out there, doing its thing, while we work each day. Movies are being shown, usually to blessedly empty theaters (visit oneā€”and, trust me, dump a bag of M&M's in your popcorn). Restaurants are serving lunch (try a place that's out of your price range for dinner). Shops are peddling wares, friendly dogs are being walked, strangers are conversing (eavesdrop, with zero shame). While you pore over spreadsheets, life is still happening.

A few practical tips: When calling in sick, keep it short to curb further inquiry. Second, commit! No checking email, no beating yourself up. Forswear any "catching up" beyond the kind that involves celebrity gossip or a Netflix queue. And finally, limit the number of folks who know about your ruse. It's just smart tracks-covering, but also, one of hooky's greatest pleasures is that it's your little secret. Keep it that way.


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