I have only used a doctor’s certificate once, I will tell the tale below. I was living and teaching English in a country in Asia’s east. It was a brilliant country to live in, the only complaints I could have was that I couldn’t speak the native tongue, which was my fault and that I worked in a school where only 10 days annual leave were awarded each year, the government’s fault. I spent the whole year of work looking forward to the separate 5 days of holidays I was entitled to. One came at Christmas, when I used the time off to travel home and the other came in July when the weather was too hot to travel to do anything outside.
Desperate for some time off, I decided to take a trip that a doctor’s certificate was going to become a crucial part of. As part of my contract, I was only allowed one or two sick days a year and if I took two in a row I would have to prove I was ill. You can tell where this is going.
With my desperation getting the best of me, I booked a trip to Malaysia with my football team. Fortunately for me a national holiday fell on the Thursday meaning I could take a longer break without missing two days of school. Unfortunately for me, no flights came back on the Monday, so I had to return on Tuesday morning in the wee hours, meaning I would have to get a doctor’s certificate.
The trip rolled around, and I got on the plane to Malaysia, happy to get away from my boss and her micro managing tendencies. When I woke on the Friday morning, I sent the message telling my boss that I was sick, school started at 2 pm so there was plenty of time to get a substitute. She wished me well telling me to feel better. The weekend went off with only one minor hitch, I got sunburnt spending the whole day in the sun. That was a minor worry and on Monday I woke up again and sent another message that I was still feeling sick. Instantly a message came back telling me that I’d need to prove it with a doctor’s certificate! Looking back on the situation, it doesn’t seem like a big deal but at the time I thought I could never get a doctor’s certificate and I was in for a world of pain when I went to work on Tuesday.
Arriving to school, with no doctor’s certificate in hand, I ducked and dodged the principal and her assistants, one of whom came into my class to inspect whether I was tanned or not and ask where I went! I was reminded about the doctor’s certificate by him and told to bring one in the following day.
In any English-speaking country, it would be fine but finding a doctor and telling them you need a doctor’s certificate for a non-existent illness isn’t any easy task in a foreign land. After much googling, I found a doctor who spoke English and made my in to the surgery, feeling a heavy weight of guilt over my head. I explained my “stomach issues” and told him my situation. Reluctantly writing a doctor’s certificate and telling me that it couldn’t happen again, I walked out of the surgery care free once again.
At work I handed over the note, both of us knowing I hadn’t really been sick. Moments later another teacher came into my classroom, inspecting my face for a tan, confirmation that I had dodged a bullet!