News & Politics

Great Places to Work: “My Cat’s on Fire . . .”

And other reasons Washingtonians have given for missing a day of work—from the woman trapped in her apartment by a fallen Christmas tree to the man who got Old Bay Seasoning in his eye.

>> Click here to see all the Great Places to Work

If you have an understanding boss, you don’t need to fib about why you missed a day of work—everyone needs a little time off. Still, we asked employees to share with us the best excuses they’ve heard.

There are old standbys: Snow on the roads—even if only a dusting. A car that won’t start. A repairman who needs to be let in. A sick child. A sick dog. Grandma died. (Again?)

Here are some of the most creative reasons people have given for needing a day off—as told by coworkers.

Don’t Blame the Dog

• “Her dog’s best ‘dog friend’ died, and she needed to take her dog to the funeral.”

• “A colleague’s cat caught fire when she was lighting a candle.”

• “A former colleague called in to say: ‘My horse is feeling down, and I need to spend time with her today.’ ”

• “ ‘My cat swallowed one of my antidepressants.’ ”

• “ ‘My dog ate my BlackBerry.’ This turned out to be true.”

Seen a Doctor?

• “An individual called in with ‘sickle-cell anemia’ one Friday. On Monday he was back; the doctor had ‘cured’ him.”

• “An employee sent an e-mail stating that he couldn’t make it into work because he had food poisoning and he didn’t want his colleagues to catch it.”

• “ ‘I had meningitis yesterday but I’m all right today.’ ”

• “A former colleague said she had amnesia and had forgotten she worked here.”

Too Much Information

• “One guy called in ‘sleepy’ because he’d been surfing porn all night.”

• “A coworker left a note on the door of the office that read: ‘I won’t be in today. I’m in love.’ ”

• “He’d caught his wife in bed with another man and had to ‘go deal with it.’ ”

• “One former colleague reported that he couldn’t come to work because Mercury was in retrograde.”

• “ ‘I am on the verge of a breakthrough. I have almost figured out the meaning of life. Can’t stop now!’ ”

• “A coworker requested several days off and was asked if she could take a different set of days off. She said no because she and her husband were trying to have a baby and that week was her most fertile.”

• “A former colleague said: ‘I spent the night at the house of a girl I met, and I must have parked in an illegal zone because my car was towed.’ ”


• “We had an employee call in sick because he’d stabbed himself in the forehead while trimming his eyebrows because he heard a car horn and it startled him.”

• “One employee called in with this: ‘I went tanning and got sunburned on my butt.’ ”

• “He stuck his head in the fireplace to get a log and burned his hair off.”

• “He said: ‘I can’t see to drive because I got Old Bay Seasoning in my eye.’ ”

Keeping Up Appearances

• “A woman on my team said: ‘My hair looks too bad to leave the house.’ I saw the pictures to prove it.”

• “ ‘I’m too bloated. I can’t fit in any pants.’ ”

• “ ‘I forgot I had an appointment to get a tattoo today.’ ”

You Don’t Say

• “ ‘My apartment is flooded from the storm.’ She lived on the fourth floor.”

• “It was not an excuse for missing a day but for being very late to work. The excuse was daylight-saving time. Except it was when we set the clocks back.”

• “The person was so stressed that her doctor advised her to go shopping instead of coming to work.”

• “We had an employee who had so many excuses that we had to keep a spreadsheet. Here are some of the most bizarre: ‘I fell down the escalator at the Metro.’ (Twice.) ‘Somebody stole my tires.’ ”

• “Someone thought the day after the SuperBowl was an actual holiday.”

Get the Story Straight

• “ ‘I had a skiing accident over the weekend and broke my leg.’ When he arrived at work, he had no cast or crutches.”

• “Someone said that she was sick but invited everyone at work to her birthday celebration that same day.”

• “An employee told us he needed to go on an extended trip to India to tend to his dying grandmother. Every time he was scheduled to return to work, he would say his family still needed him. Thanks to Facebook, we learned that this employee did not have a dying grandmother. He was on a fun vacation—complete with partying all over Dubai.”

That’s Embarrassing

• “A coworker’s Christmas tree had fallen over, and she couldn’t get out of her apartment.”

• “He’d lost his car on a bet and couldn’t get a ride to work.”

• “An employee called in to say he was in jail because he’d punched a police officer who’d interrupted him while he was urinating in public.”

• “ ‘I woke up and thought it was Saturday.’ ”

• “An employee was supposed to be home sick but was seen giving a live fan interview on TV at a sporting event.”

• “One of my staff called to inform me he would be late to work as he was pulled over by a state trooper. He put me on the phone with the officer to confirm his story.”

Strange but True

• “The person left his house in Columbia Heights, and his driveway was blocked by an abandoned couch.”

• “A toilet had overflowed and short-circuited this person’s alarm clock.”

• “A team member was in Vegas for the weekend and won $32,000. He called me at 6 am on Monday to say he would not be in because his ‘table was hot.’ ”

• “A colleague missed a half day of work because the power had gone out and this person was locked in the garage.”

• “We received a call from an employee who stated that he wasn’t coming in because he was at his new job.”

• “Someone my friend used to work with had gotten into a bit of trouble and was sentenced to prison for 30 days. He didn’t want his work to find out, so he told them that he had a family emergency abroad and would need to be gone for a month.”

• “The person called and said he had a flat tire. When he went to change it, the spare was flat. On the way to the repair shop in his wife’s car, he got a flat; when he tried to change that flat, the spare was flat. The repair truck got a flat on the way there. This story came over six phone calls, from ‘I’m going to be a little late’ to ‘I’ll be in around lunch’ to ‘I’ll see you tomorrow.’ ”

• “A former colleague didn’t show up for work for
several days. We found out why when her mug shot was on TV for embezzling from her former employer.”

• “Someone took the day off to mentally prepare for the American Idol finale airing that evening.”

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