Let the experts make your excuses

Categorized as 03/29/10 Goshen News column

According to a February 2009 CareerBuilder.com survey of more than 8,000 workers, a full 20% said they are late to work at least once a week. A surprising 12% admitted to being tardy at least twice a week.

The majority of workers (33%) blamed traffic while 24% said it was lack of sleep. Other reasons given included getting kids ready for school or day care, public transportation, and wardrobe issues.

Unfortunately, many people who find themselves showing up late for work find it hard to be honest about the reason for their lack of punctuality. That’s when the inventiveness that I talked about last week comes into play.

Let’s face it. Some people just aren’t that creative, and their efforts at deception are actually painful to watch. “I feel like I’m in everyone’s way if I show up on time,” may sound compelling when practiced in front of the bathroom mirror, but it sure falls flat in the boss’ office.

“My left turn signal was out, so I had to make all right turns to get to work,” is a guaranteed swing-and-a-miss. If you try this one, you can rest assured that you’ll have all the time in the world to rediscover your blinker, along with the joy of making both left- and right-hand turns again.

Employees aren’t the only ones faced with the need to make excuses. Parents find themselves in the same position when a child has been sick or absent. While many of the reasons given are legitimate, it’s the butchering of the King’s English and the lack of coherence that can throw an educator’s eyebrows up onto his scalp.

“My son is under the doctor’s care and should not take PE today,” wrote one parent. “Please execute him.”

“Please excuse Ray from school,” wrote another. “He has very loose vowels.”

“Please excuse Tom for being absent yesterday. He had diarrhea, and his boots leak.” And please excuse me while I look for new boots for Tom.

And lastly, “Please excuse my son’s tardiness. I forgot to wake him up, and I did not find him until I started making the beds.” This one actually makes sense. Having two dyed-in-the-wool “sleeper inners” in the family, I can see how it might happen.

Another list that has circulated for years comes (supposedly) from a major insurance company. Clients were asked to give a brief statement on an accident claim form describing what had happened.

“The other car collided with mine without giving warning of its intentions,” wrote one bewildered driver.

“The accident occurred when I was attempting to bring my car out of a skid by steering it into the other vehicle.” I’m sure this just didn’t come out quite like the author intended. Surely not.

“The telephone pole was approaching fast. I was attempting to swerve out of its path when it struck my front end.” And maybe the driver’s head? You can’t help but wonder.

“I was driving my car out of the driveway in the usual manner when it was struck by the other car in the same place it had been struck several times before.” Huh? Hit me with an espresso, please, and quick, because I’m not getting this.

“To avoid hitting the bumper of the car in front, I struck the pedestrian,” wrote another claimant. By all means, let’s not dent the bumper. But a civilian’s legs? Oh, well.

“The pedestrian had no idea which direction to go, so I ran him over,” another driver clarified. At this rate, pedestrians will be the next species to head into extinction.

“I was on my way to an appointment with rear end trouble when my universal joint gave way, causing me to have an accident.” Okay. I can identify with this in a very figurative sense. Personally, I find that too little sleep and no caffeine will have my universal whatever-whatever giving way long before noon. I know the feeling, buddy.

“The indirect cause of this accident was a little guy in a small car with a big mouth,” complained another driver. And unless I miss my guess, a very irritating finger that incited a case of road rage.

This next one always gets me. “The guy was all over the place. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.”

You know, there are some people who should automatically flunk when they test down at the BMV. They really should.

It’s a good thing that names were withheld, because this last one could torpedo this family’s reunions for years to come. “I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law, and headed over the embankment.”

See what I mean? It’s best, I think, to let the experts at Excuses R Us handle certain sensitive situations. It could save a lot of trouble. You can reach them at 1-800-EXC-USES. Just have your credit card handy.

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