Kenneth Knepper: Amazingly lame excuses for missing work

Kenneth Knepper

While I’m certainly no rocket scientist when it comes to elaborate excuses for not completing home improvement projects, I learned early in my work career that employers are a cynical bunch, bent on catching employees who try to trick them out of a work day.

As a result, I’ve always been wary of making up an excuse.

That fear dates back to college, after my car was vandalized in a dormitory parking lot. As I awaited police response, I called my art history professor to reschedule a test. Even though it was truly a legitimate excuse for putting off a lengthy essay about the influences of Picasso in today’s art, I still felt guilty.

Sometimes, I’m amazed and shocked when I read about the lameness of employee excuses. It helps explain a few milli-points in today’s 10.2 percent unemployment rate, however.

Here is an updated list as follow-up to an earlier column about lame excuses for missing work.

1. I’m grounded.

“My mom said I was not allowed to go to work today.”

As a parent, I immediately knew this was unexcused because past experience has taught me when children get on my nerves, I encourage them to go to work, or outside, or to their rooms.

2. Apparently, no dental floss was available.

“A bee flew into my mouth.”

Since I have no allergies to bee stings, I’m not sure if this might suffice as a legitimate excuse for absenteeism. However, over the years I’ve ingested more insects than a windshield and aside from the occasional gag reflex, I’ve never felt a need to call in.

3. It’s not my fault.

“I’m convinced my spouse is having an affair, and I’m staying home to catch them.”

First of all, anyone who watches television knows, when suspecting a spouse of having an affair, the only way to catch him or her is to arrive home early from work — not by staying at home.

4. This one’s for the birds.

“I was injured chasing a seagull.”

While it paints a laughable image of an employee running across a secluded beach hoping to catch a new pet, I can only wonder the degree of injury, apart from being pecked to tears.

5. … If it wasn’t for the police, I’d be there, today.

“I got caught selling an alligator.”

Actually, incarceration may be a worthy excuse for missing work. However, one has to wonder two things: 1. How did he get the alligator in the first place; and 2. How many people are really looking for a pet that is nothing more than jaws, teeth and a tail all rolled up in a very bad attitude.

6. I only wish there was a direct flight, available.

“I woke up in Canada.”

One can only imagine where this person went to sleep in the first place.

7. I tried Tums and Advil, but no luck.

“I have a headache from eating hot peppers.”

Trust me, a headache is only the first of many ugly symptoms, but still not a very good excuse for skipping out on work. A recent survey found 32 percent of people who randomly called in “sick,” simply didn’t feel like going to work. That was followed by 28 percent who needed a day to relax and 16 percent who wanted to catch up on sleep.

All this has led many managers to be skeptical, even leading some to call employees at home or asking for a doctor’s note.

If you’re still looking for a believable excuse for missing work, you could always refine one of these ideas to suit your particular needs. Or, just take the advice of one blogger, who recently stated the best way to avoid unemployment: “Marry the boss’ daughter.”

Ken Knepper is publisher of The Newton Kansan. He can be contacted at