News & Politics

Outlandish Excuses for Missing Work

Some of these stories, as recalled by colleagues, are true. Others—you be the judge.

“At my old job, a coworker came in several hours late because he burned himself that morning. He had his button-down shirt on and then decided it was wrinkled and needed to be ironed–while it was still on. Yeah, wound up at the hospital.” Illustration by Chris Philpot

It’s the Dog’s Fault

” ‘My dog ate my alarm clock.’ “

” ‘My dog ate my cat.’ “

“His dog buried his keys somewhere in the yard.”

” ‘I fell down the stairs while trying to kick the dog.’ “

“His dog was lonely, so he was going to work from home.”


That’s Really Bad Luck

“Two former colleagues–they were roommates–said they couldn’t come in because they were locked in their apartment. A locksmith had come the day before to change the locks and put the locks on backward and failed to leave a key.”

“A former colleague called in because they couldn’t find any pants to wear. An angry ex had taken all of them and hidden them.”

” ‘I can’t come into work because I fell in a hole.’ This individual had attended a funeral and fallen into a hole dug for a grave.”

“A guy’s girlfriend handcuffed him to the bed and didn’t have the key. Eventually 911 had to come to unlock the cuffs.”


See Also:

Outrageous Tales of Bizarre Workplace Behavior

Crazy Ways Washingtonians Have Quit Jobs

Illustration by Chris Philpot

It’s Not Just Dogs

” ‘My goldfish died.’ “

” ‘There’s a snake in my garage, and I can’t get to the car.’ “

” ‘My cat sat on my alarm clock and turned it off.’ “

” ‘My cat died last night, and I need to bury her at her place of birth–Maui.’ “


Just Say You’re Sick

” ‘I’m feeling great, but I think I’ll stay home just to make sure I don’t get sick.’ “

“A coworker was giving herself a bikini trim and nicked herself in an awkward area. She called in to say where she had nicked herself and that she couldn’t come into work.”

“One of my employees told me he couldn’t report to work because he stuck a Q-tip too far in his ear.”

“I had a colleague who would call in sick on Monday if he was sick over the weekend, because he felt cheated out of his weekend.”

“An employee called in sick because he had food poisoning and ‘I don’t want my clients to catch it.’ “


Mental Health Day

” ‘This is not a mentally stimulating day for me, so I am going to go back to bed, wake up tomorrow, and try again.’ “

“I worked with someone who didn’t come in one day because she claimed that the gardening she did instead was therapeutic and counted toward her future productivity. Which is why she didn’t count it as a day off.”

“A former colleague missed a day of work when there was talk of the astrological signs changing. She didn’t know who she was anymore and couldn’t come to work and continue to live a lie until she knew what her new sign was.”


That’s Honesty

“I had a coworker tell our boss that she was having a ‘fat day’ and just wanted to stay home. My boss applauded her honesty and gave her the day off.”

” ‘My wife came back early last night and found me in bed with another woman, and I have a few things to straighten out.’ “

” ‘I just have to get out of town. My mother-in-law is coming.’ “


When Honesty Isn’t Best

” ‘I could not come to work because I was interviewing at another firm.’ “

“One worker had to take leave to clean her apartment–the health department had determined her home to be unhealthy.”

” ‘I got sunburned at a nude beach and can’t wear clothes.’ “

“They thought it was Sunday instead of Monday.”

” ‘I forgot I worked here.’ “

” ‘Sorry I was late–my divorce attorney climbed through my fire escape and served me papers. Again.’ “



” ‘It’s raining and I don’t have an umbrella.’ “

” ‘The pope is in town, and I am going to try to have lunch with him.’ “

” ‘It’s a milestone episode of Family Feud.’ “

” ‘I just had too much work to do to come into the office.’ “

” ‘I only got 12 hours of sleep last night.’ “

” ‘I don’t want to lose the parking spot in front of my house.’ “

“He didn’t want to be stressed out before his date that night.”

” ‘My mom thinks a ghost is in the garage.’ “


Car Troubles

“He had an accident on the way to the office–a Sani-Jon fell off a truck onto the hood of his car.”

“He spilled coffee on himself on his drive to work, so he went home to change his shirt–and got a flat tire in his driveway.”

“Lost their car in a parking garage and spent the next day trying to locate it.”

” ‘I forgot to open the garage door while backing out my pickup–which went through the garage door and got stuck.’ “

“He said his car broke down next to the golf course and he ended up wandering for 18 holes until he found a mechanic.”


You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

“He said his house was on fire. The photos on Facebook clearly stated otherwise.”

“A former colleague showed up late to work and missed a hearing. Upon arrival, he indicated that the evening before he had proposed to his now fiancée. They had stayed up all night celebrating, and he never set an alarm. He created a fake Facebook account and kept the lie going until he left the company.”

“At my old job, a coworker came in several hours late because he burned himself that morning. He had his button-down shirt on and then decided it was wrinkled and needed to be ironed–while it was still on. Yeah, wound up at the hospital.”


Too Much Sharing

“A former colleague took the day off to covertly follow her boyfriend on his ‘guys’ weekend.’ It did not end well.”

” ‘I didn’t have any clean underwear.’ “

” ‘My girlfriend is in my apartment right now and wants to have sex.’ “



“A former secretary who was notorious for calling in sick left a voicemail one morning saying she wouldn’t be in because her father-in-law had fallen down the stairs and was in the hospital. The next day, she called to say she wouldn’t be in because ‘Now I’m a suspect in a murder investigation.’ Did she push her father-in-law down the stairs?”

“I got a voicemail from a subordinate who said he was sick as a dog. It was during the World Cup, and he was a big fan. He went on and on coughing and telling me how sick he was. He thought he hung up the phone, but he didn’t. The next two minutes were him and his buddies cheering and laughing. I called him into my office the next day to see how he felt and played the message for him. A bunch of his colleagues poured in, and we all had a big laugh.”

This article appears in the November 2011 issue of The Washingtonian. 

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