Need a lame excuse? Here's a list

The job-search website company CareerBuilder hires Harris Poll to survey employees in human resources departments and hiring managers in an attempt to spot noteworthy personnel trends. Sometimes that produces useful information. And sometimes it's hard to believe someone ponied up the money to survey a few thousand people only to come away with a list of lame excuses for showing up late to work.

The results of a recent poll showed that 23 percent of workers admitted coming in late at least once a month, and 14 percent said it's a weekly occurrence. Among workers who have admitted to being late for work in the past, three in 10 have lied about the reason for their tardiness. Maybe their honesty depends on their employer; the survey also found that 41 percent of employers have fired an employee for being late.

Some are more lenient. One-third of employers said the occasional late arrival was OK as long as it didn't become a pattern, and 16 percent said they don't care at all if the employee can still get all the work done. Many do: 59 percent of workers who show up late will stay later to make up for it.

Most of my friends perfected their tardiness excuses in junior high along with their reasons why homework assignments weren't complete. The sun was in my eyes, the dog ate it, I left my backpack on the bus you probably had a personal favorite. Some discovered that honesty was the best route; others did not. Either way, school prepared them for the workplace, where the excuse-making gets pretty much the same results it got in eighth grade.

Thanks to Harris Poll, more than 2,100 human resources workers and 3,000 employees, we now have a list of the lamest excuses ever proffered.

"I knocked myself out in the shower."

I am trying to imagine how, exactly, one might do that. Slip in the tub and whack your head on the edge of the tub? Maybe, but it's a little hard to imagine that you came to, dried off and hustled straight into the office.

"I was drunk and forgot which Waffle House I parked my car next to."

I believe that one. I would be skeptical if they picked any establishment other than Waffle House, but, really, where else do you go at 2:30 a.m. after a bender? And they do all look the same. I can see it happening.

"Someone robbed the gas station I was at, and I didn't have enough gas to get to another station."

Happens to the best of us. In college. After a night that included a visit to a Waffle House.

"I discovered my spouse was having an affair, so I followed him this morning to find out who he was having an affair with."

That has credibility too. Remember Clara Harris, the Friendswood, Texas, dentist who caught her husband with another woman at a hotel and ran him down in the parking lot? She ran him over five times. Five. With her teenage stepdaughter in the car. Infidelity makes people crazy. I'd buy that excuse in a heartbeat. She's up for parole in April.

"I had to wait for the judge to set my bail."

Hard to argue with that one. See any of the above. Any of them.

"A deer herd that was moving through town made me late."

Works in Nome. Does not work in Miami.

"There was a stranger sleeping in my car."

Really? You seemed awfully familiar when you were with him at the Waffle House.

"I dreamed that I got fired."

See? Dreams really do come true!

Published: Fri, Jan 30, 2015

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