Mental Health Days, Or, Perfect Attendance Is For Losers

A month or so ago, maybe longer, I was taking an item of clothing from my closet when the hanger broke. Like in half. I do not recall becoming annoyed or frustrated. I also do not recall throwing the hanger to the floor in disgust but it’s possible I did, because it has been lying there ever since. On the floor in front of the closet. For at least a month and maybe three.

Six million times I could have picked that hanger up and thrown it away; six million times I looked at it and thought, whatever. Maybe later. I have no explanation for my neglect. It’s just one of those weird things that we all do sometimes. My husband says that no, we do not all do those weird things but I don’t know if I believe that. It can’t be just me who feels that a broken hanger should be punished by being forced to sit there on the floor and think about what it has done.

Just a few days ago, I was getting dressed for work and I saw that hanger, again, and left it there, again. I have got to pick up that goddamned hanger already, I thought, and then, right after: I’d better take a vacation day.

The questions and curious looks came when I tried to explain this to some of my colleagues at the office. “You need a vacation day to pick up a hanger?” They asked.

“Yes,” I told them. “It’s scheduled for Friday. I have cleared my calendar.”

One person laughed, as if I were joking. Another pressed me for details. “You need a whole day to throw away a broken hanger?” He asked.

“No,” I said. “Obviously not. But I’m taking it anyway.”

I found this while searching for images related to the word “clothes,” and now I have lost my will to live.

As I write this it is Friday, 6:53 a.m. Vacation day is in progress. I cannot tell you how happy I am to be here; to have a whole day planned around nothing more than picking up and disposing of a single piece of garbage. I could be staring at my work laptop right now or worse, headed into the office in very sad business casual attire. Instead, I am contemplating that hanger and all the other things I might dispose of today, including half the stuff I’ve ever received from Ipsy, 17 years’ worth of Target receipts plus  450,000 emails from Bed Bath & Beyond.

I realize that a “mental health day” typically means calling in sick to work and pretending to be physically ill, and then taking the free time to give one’s mind a break. To get it recalibrated, so to speak. I have changed the rules a bit by actually admitting to my coworkers that I might be mentally unstable. I think this is fine, though, because it’s a good way to keep them guessing. Sure, we could choose her for the next round of layoffs, they might think. But what kind of person is she, really?

The moral of the story would seem to be that obviously, you should skip work as often as possible. But that is only one moral. The other is that broken hangers need not make you cry, or cause you to yell at your kids, or to wonder why all the bad things have to happen to you. The real moral here is that sometimes, broken hangers are exactly what you need.


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    1. Exactly. While I was picking up the hanger a tangled thread (maybe 7 feet long if I stretched it end to end) fell off of some shirt and landed on the floor. It is still there because, I will probably need it come June.

  1. I’m going to throw some hangars around the house. Also, i always told my kids: perfect attendance awards are for kids with really boring lives. Thanks for not being boring!

    1. I didn’t have perfect attendance. I took days off to observe holidays (I;m Jewish). When I was sick, my mom never questioned me. I also once took two weeks off in the middle of my junior year of high school to visit Poland and Israel. I graduated in the top 12% of my high school class of more than 1000 students with a 93 average. Good students (and employees) know how to be productive without killing themselves for it.

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