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I’ve answered to sick calls quite a few times and with most entrenched bookselling coworkers I know what they sound like over the phone, but people sound ENTIRELY different when they’re sick. Some people’s voices go deep and gravelly, some go into a high pitched whisper, and some just sound like they’re about to puke again. Compound a tonal disruption to the normal speaking voice with a phone line compression of sound and you get mystery employees calling out left and right. If they’re mumbling and coughing all through the brief phone interaction it helps even less.
What you’re left with is a process of elimination. You count heads, see who’s shown up for their opening shift and start checking off names and hope everyone who should be there is there except for the mystery caller…