Excuses for Being Late that Will Put You in the Clear

We’ve all been guilty of throwing those “dog ate my homework” style excuses for being late in life, and even though we’re definitely blushing... we’ll probably do it again.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone, we’ve all said that little white lie as we walked in ten minutes late to work and it felt like our mouth was moving on its own. All the sudden, the truth that you just couldn’t find socks that matched or you spent too much time trying to tame your hair flies out the window.

That would have been just as logical of an excuse, but for whatever reason, the dramatic plea that leaves us the perfect victims just kind of slips out. We can feel the lie plastered to our foreheads in neon, flashing lights and for whatever reason nobody calls us out right then and there. Suddenly, to try to validate the situation you instantly follow up your tiny lie with little details to make it more believable.

You can’t be blamed, you haven’t even formulated a way to back down, and suddenly, your nosey coworker has to ask you the most intimate details about the scenario you totally just made up in your head.

While you mentally file through every possible option and reaction, you make a selection and start babbling. That’s the end of it; Martha, the one with the overly starched blouse, turns back to go about her way and you can finally relax. You know if someone fed you that line of absolute crap you’d do the same thing, but you wonder why she couldn’t just have let it go.

You promise yourself not to say anything that outrageous again but sooner or later you hear the same lines either from your own mouth or a friend’s. Here are some cliché excuses for being late that everyone is tired of hearing but will always work.

1. I was having feminine troubles


This is like the ace of all late excuses, and we know it. It makes men uncomfortable enough that they don’t challenge us and other women instantly nod a solemn face and offer a tampon or a horror story of their own. While I’m not saying this isn’t a legitimate excuse for many people, I’ve definitely heard many women say they’ve used it to their advantage before.

Even though this is sometimes a little white lie, I am all for keeping it as a worthy excuse, I mean; can you imagine the scenarios that would ensure if it was no longer considered believable?

You walk into a floor meeting utterly flustered and drop the usual line complete with whispered fake embarrassed voice and wide eyes. Suddenly, Ted, the creepy unibrowed man from down the hall with the grey unkempt nose hair, jumps up and slams a fist on the table near you. He shouts “It’s not your time of the month woman, you bled last week, how dare you” all red faced and ready to bust a vein.

Not only would this be any woman’s nightmare and just about the rudest remark ever, but it would lead into an awkward debate about why you were truly on your time of the month. I can only imagine the process of proving to someone you actually were on your period and how incredibly awkward that would be for any onlookers.

2. Traffic was horrible


This one is another overused phrase that is always seemingly paired with a huffing sigh and dramatic hand motions. I’m pretty sure the amount of hand gestures is what really sells this one. You’ve got to really commit to the flourishes and fist clenches that will make your peers believe that the normally completely dead intersection down the street was for whatever reason, completely deadlocked.

This is one of those excuses that really need the extra detail. All the sudden you find yourself describing the state of the roads and pedestrians with more gusto then you’ve ever thought of that one light intersection before and you finish breathless and heaving. For good measure you make them feel lucky for missing the traumatic catastrophe you’ve just escaped.

The only thing that could make this excuse more hackneyed would be a fake mud mark under the eyes from having to crawl under the belly of an overturned semi to reach work on time.

But you don’t stop there, oh no, you launch into a full account of how your favorite parking spot was stolen right from under your nose by an old lady in a Mini Cooper. If that doesn’t really sell it to them, nothing will. Always add an anecdote of an old lady with a Mini Cooper into your lie. I’m pretty sure it adds instant legitimacy to whatever you are trying to sell.

3. My car wouldn’t start today


Now, this one works especially well for people with older cars or ones that look visibly worn down. Even though it’s equally possible someone’s Mercedes wasn’t feeling the drive today, a crappy car model adds far more belief. You don’t have to mention “Old Faithful” hasn’t had a mechanical issue in a year and that it has a heartier engine that a tank. Let the rust spot speak for itself people; work it to your advantage.

You know deep down you would have been early if you hadn’t stopped for a coffee and a bagel, but car troubles sound way better. Not only can we not have people questioning our calorie intake, but simply lusting after a veggie cream cheese bagel doesn’t have quite the sympathetic feel of a busted car.

Never mind the perfect purr of the engine now, an hour ago there was a magic curse and for about 5-10 minutes you were absolutely paralyzed in your driveway.

Nothing’s worse, however, than when you try to use this one and there’s no snow on the ground to chill the engine or rain to make the tires slip for good measure. I suggest not using this one too much and saving it for those truly atrocious winter days where sleeping in sounds better than anything else.

4. My alarm didn’t go off


Nothing like blaming your lateness on a technology glitch you couldn’t have predicted beforehand. Nobody seems to ever wonder why your alarm didn’t go off, but magically, you woke up 10 minutes later, almost right on schedule. We’re glad for it too; we don’t want to have to pretend we have some kind of “internal clock” that only sets off for work and important events.

Never mind the actual fact that the chances of your alarm just not going off are like one out of nine hundred. Be careful with this one, because if you use it more than once, everyone is going to give you that death glare where you can honestly feel the “kick me” signs invisibly taping themselves to your back.

5. My cat/dog ran away


This is for the melodramatic type with the acting skills to pull this off. It starts off with the entrance, which has to have the right amount of genuine stress and the appearance of trying to remain calm. Whether you actually have a pet or not is completely irrelevant as long as you sell the story the right way.

If you just so happen to keep a picture of your beloved “Spot” right there on your desk, that just makes it even better. If you don’t even have a pet, then you need to name the animal something very endearing to show your pretend love for it. “Poor Fluffy” doesn’t have quite the memorable ring to it as “that damn cat Clarence”.

Pick a really weird fake name for your nonexistent pet because a fake Clarence is way more solid then a fake Fluffy. Nobody wants to challenge a man with a cat named Clarence.

It’s important to exhibit a mixture of fear for the animal and annoyance that it ran off and specify that it wasn’t your choice to run up and down the neighborhood in a panicked haze but your wife/husband’s or the children’s. It’s instantly a full proof white lie as it takes some serious guts for someone to call bull on a grieving pet owner.

If the lie goes so far as to someone asking to help you look for them after work or wanting a picture to be on the lookout, you’re definitely in over your head. The only logical thing to do at that point is to buy a pet and pray you can find one that looks like you’re mythical childhood best friend you swore you’ve had since middle school.

Best to just skip a lot of the lie and change your story to the pet running down the street to the neighbors yard and being returned peacefully to its fluffy bed in the kitchen. You don’t want to end up with an actual cat named Clarence just to appease old Ms. Allen from the floor below who wanted to compare cat pictures over Facebook.

6. I got pulled over


This one never stops with just being pulled over. Our panicked mind has to make it dramatic enough to be believable, so of course, not only did we get pulled over but we also got a bullshit ticket for running a stop sign behind a bush or for going three miles over. This isn’t the smartest detail to add into the lie, because then it calls for an entire story full of opportunities for us to slip up.

Now there’s a fictional asshole cop that’s handing out tickets left and right, so of course, everyone will want to know where this tragedy occurred. Now you’ve got a place tied to the lie and you have to make sure you cite a spot you actually hit on your way to work that everyone else doesn’t. Pick someplace far away from the surrounding area of work or there’s a better chance Karma will somehow get you.

I can only imagine the awkwardness of your coworker getting pulled over the next day and them relating your story to the officer who would say “I’m the only cop working this area and I wasn’t giving out tickets yesterday”. Not only are you screwed, but now you have a real annoyed cop hell bent on somehow giving you that ticket you escaped, and if somehow they make that a reality you’re double screwed.

My advice, stick to the “I got pulled over, but other than a time delay, the cop was so incredibly nice she just let me speed on by”. It’s truly the safest option on this one.

7. The kids missed the bus


This one is the best excuse on the list in my opinion. Let’s be honest, it’s why we bother having children (joking). But this is the one nobody is going to challenge you on. Call up your best fake parenting disapproval face and tell them all about how Little Johnny just forgot his backpack and couldn’t run to catch the school bus fast enough.

Anyone with kids can relate to this one and nobody is going to rake you through the coals as much if they think your cute, smiling first grader is the cause for the hold up. Besides, your only flaw here is being a good parent who had to take one for the team and drive your kid to school. Never mind that school is just down the street and anyone you work with who knows where you live could point this out.

Stick with your story and add a “when I get home I am going to insert good punishment here”. It’ll seal the deal and keep your coworkers from giving you their best icy stares and let your day get rolling.

All these excuses are that last ditch effort and shouldn’t be used often as a fall back for always being late, nor should lying. If you really are always late, maybe you should spend some time thinking of more creative things to try and come up with better excuses.

Comment below and leave the best excuses for being late you’ve ever heard. Share this on Facebook with your coworkers; maybe they’ll fess up and you can have a good laugh about it or maybe you’ll just save your death stare for next Monday.

About the author

Raichel Jenkins

Raichel is an ambitious free spirit who loves poetry, hiking, and a decent amount of carbs. She is a Journalism student at Ohio University with a passion for women’s rights, sappy love stories, and intricacies of the human experience.

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