Dos and Don’ts of Skipping Work to Watch the NCAA Tournament

Today kicks off the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament, and it is — traditionally — a day when office workers take really, really long lunches so as to cram in as much men’s college basketball tournament fun as possible (read: drink). So, anyway. A list. Because people love two things: AMERICA. And lists.

DO skip work to watch basketball. Come on. It’s one day. If they fire you over that, there’s a pretty good chance you were getting fired anyway.

DON’T hold me to that.

DO go to your regular bar, if your regular bar has TVs. Otherwise, you’re going to be in some place you don’t even like, and you’re going to be nervous. Looking over your shoulder and such. Nervous people drink more, and, look, you’ve essentially already blown this by over-thinking it.

DO start off your day with a good breakfast or an early lunch. I’m not saying don’t have a bunch of chicken wings and everything nachos at whatever bar you go to. Well, I actually am kind of saying that. But what I really am saying is that bad food destroys a good buzz. PLAY LIKE A CHAMPION.

DON’T try to come up with a ridiculous excuse. The best course in these situations is to call no attention to yourself. If attention finds you, then don’t lie. Deflect. You’re not covering up a murder (probably). You’re explaining why you’re late coming back from lunch, and smell like a ranch dressing salesman. So you need to ask yourself, and your boss, “Why is Tim always stealing office supplies? And money? And why does he smell like prison liquor?” Not only did you just deflect attention away from yourself, you may have bought yourself enough time to pop out again.

DON’T go to a bar or restaurant that’s sponsored by someone as a place to skip work and watch the game. That means cameras and/or microphones. You might as well send out an internal memo to the entire company explaining your lunch plans.

DO send out an internal memo to the entire company explaining your plan. But make sure you add JUST KIDDING right before your signature. Then name some generically popular lunch spot and ask if anyone wants you to bring anything back. Take their order. If they offer to pay, magnanimously say, “Please. I got this. I owe you.”

DON’T actually bring anything back for anyone. This way, you’re known as the jerk who forgot everyone’s lunch, not the irresponsible jerk who spent three hours watching a sport he only pretends to care about two weeks out of every year, if that, and honestly just likes tying one on during the day in a marginally socially acceptable way.

DON’T think too hard about that. You’re okay. You’re going to be…okay.

DO actually try to do something nice for everyone you stiffed on that whole lunch thing. I’m not saying actually get them lunch. But something. I think a nice box of breakfast pastries — and granola  and soy milk for Greg in accounting, the health nut — should do the trick. Write a note with it. Nothing fancy. “Hey everyone — enjoy.” Something like that. They know you struggle with emotion and will appreciate the effort.

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