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May 06, 2017

Advice on which excuses you should never use when trying to justify your lack of punctuality in the workplace

Everybody at some point in their working life has experienced the gut-wrenching panic of a race against the clock to avoid being late for work.Whether it’s the result of an over-amorous relationship with the snooze button on your alarm clock, or simply plain old bad luck on the journey in. If you want to avoid having to buy a round of tea for your team mates however, you’ll need a viable excuse to explain away your punctuality failure. Here is a list of the ten worst excuses to use:

1. The, ‘I have to come in from far away,’ excuse:

Strictly speaking this isn’t really an excuse but miraculously it can sometimes work. Your employer isn’t duty bound to make allowances for you if you live far from the office but if you don’t take liberties, you might be able to secure the benefit of the doubt a couple of times a quarter. If you live so far away from your office that getting in to work on time is a continual problem, it might be an idea to consider working closer to home. The wages might be lower but you’ll more than make up the difference by not having to buy rounds of tea for the rest of the team.

2. The, ‘strictly speaking I’m not late,’ excuse:

Let’s get one thing straight. A 9 am start is a 9 am start. Not 09:04 or even 09:02 for that matter. Just because you’ve been nattering in the canteen since 08:30 am to your friend over a skinny latte and didn’t realise what time it was, your punctuality status is defined by whether you are sat at your desk ready to work at the stroke of 9 bells. Your mobile phone clock is therefore rendered irrelevant in this scenario.

3. The denial excuse:

Team Leader: ‘Well?’

You: ‘Well what?’

Team Leader: ‘The time.’

You: ‘What about the time?’

Team Leader: ‘You’re late.’

You: ‘Am I?’ (accompanied by an incredulous look of horror and dismay).

Team Leader: ‘Have you got anything to say to me?’

You: ‘Are you sure the clock’s working properly?’

The above transcript was taken from a conversation that took place here at W1nners’ Club HQ a while ago. The person involved doesn’t work here anymore and a similar fate will befall you as well if you adopt such a cavalier attitude to time keeping.

4. The, ‘I left my wallet at home,’ excuse

It’s by no means the worst excuse on the list, but you’ll only ever get away with it once. If you get a reputation in the office as being the sort of person that continually misplaces important items like wallets, questions might soon be raised about your trustworthiness when it comes to performing the tasks required to do your job properly. The, ‘I left my wallet at home,’ excuse will probably work, but care should be taken to use it sparingly.

5. The, ‘traffic jam,’ excuse

Life is very much a waiting game these days. We wait for everything. We wait to draw our money from the cash point, we wait to see our doctor when we’re ill and we wait to pay for food when we’re hungry. We even have to wait nine months before we’re allowed to enter the world at birth. Driving into work every day therefore, means it’s inevitable that you’ll have to do some waiting at some point. It’s for this very reason that you can’t claim a traffic jam as an unforeseen eventuality. If you plan on using this excuse you’d better finish off with, ‘Would you like Earl Grey or Darjeeling?’

6. The, ‘Roadworks,’ excuse

This excuse works as an adjunct to the others and provides extra credibility, thus allowing extra excuses to be used where you wouldn’t normally be allowed one. For example, it would work well alongside the traffic jam excuse to create a more believable, ‘nightmare on the way in,’ scenario.

NB – The Road Works excuse won’t work on its own without being accompanied by a more credible, ‘parent,’ excuse.

7. The, ‘burst boiler,’ excuse

Whilst being too obviously close to a whopping great lie for any self-respecting line manager to accept as gospel, it will only work if the Team Leader has already bought him/herself tea beforehand.

8. The, ‘I had to take the dog to the vet,’ excuse

The great conundrum with this excuse is that everyone wants to believe it because we are a nation of dog lovers – but it’s the least believable of the lot. The thought of a poorly pug makes everybody’s heart sink, but the line manager you are trying to convince of its plausibility will have dropped this one years ago when he or she was a junior executive. It’s best only used if you have access to a picture of a poorly pug – preferably lying on a vet’s table.

9. The, ‘couldn’t find my door key,’ excuse

See the, ‘I left my wallet at home,’ excuse and replace the word, ‘wallet,’ with, ‘door key.’

10. The, ‘my wind-up alarm clock didn’t go off,’ excuse

This would have worked at any point in history up until about 2010 when the proliferation of smartphones occurred and it was only undiscovered Amazonian rain forest tribes that didn’t have alarm clocks in their mobile phones (even that scenario is highly unlikely). If you’re going to attempt this one, either get a time machine and go back to a point in history where people relied on cocks crowing to wake up in the morning, or hope that your line manager is Amish. Either way, this isn’t really an excuse you can use in the technology age.

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