The worst part of being late for an appointment, work or date is that you have to come up with an actually credible story to justify your disregard for punctuality and of course, the other person’s carefully planned schedule that you have just messed up. Also, the story has to be concocted in such a manner that detracts from potential sanctions – be them pay cuts or sleeping on the couch for the rest of the week – while emphasizing the idea that you had no control over the circumstances. Either that or you can bite the bullet and present the situation in good humor, it’s basically your call.
However, before we begin, I want to underline on the importance of using a detailed and particular variant of the story, rather than the general lie that most bosses are already accustomed to. You should have plenty of time to invent something while you are busy being late!
1. I got stuck in traffic!
This is probably the simplest, yet least creative excuse for your lack of punctuality, but that does not mean you cannot build up from it. On a side note, before you apply the traffic excuse, be sure that the other person did not reach his/her destination via the same route or you’ll really get in trouble. The variants of the traffic story can include road repairs, accidents that blocked the traffic, unforeseen tailbacks, etc. If you’re going with the accident version, try to make a shocked face while you are depicting horrendously graphic details, it might just make the interlocutor sympathetic with your shock or sufficiently sickened to drop the questioning.
2. The alarm clock didn’t go off, but with a twist!
Sure, sure, the alarm didn’t go off. You turned it off and went back to sleep is more likely! However, we all know that power-outs related to storms have a tendency of resetting electrical appliances. Or even short-circuit them completely. So then, does the other person know how the weather was in your area last night? If not, then this is certainly an effective excuse.
3. Misplaced the car keys
In its generalist form – simply saying I couldn’t find the keys – this story should be utilized sparingly because it makes you appear careless and sloppy. Since that’s not the impression you want to leave on your boss because you’re hunting for a promotion, why not tell him an adorable story about how your 1 year old baby flushed them down the toilet? When you realized what happened, you immediately called an emergency locksmith service because you knew you had to be at work, come hell or high water! Of course, the baby excuse is probably not a good conversation starter on a first date, especially if you don’t want her to know you’re married.
4. Blame the public transportation poorly conceived infrastructure
The delays proprietary to public transportation can be a good explanation for being late, providing that you were not seen parking the car. If you don’t normally travel this way, then you will need a good story about how some reckless, no good punk who didn’t respect the traffic lights crashed into you and now your car is in the shop. Also, you should probably consider leaving by public transportation, as not to arouse suspicions.
5. My high ethical principles demanded I land a helping hand to someone in need
This is essentially a version of “I was helping an old lady across the street”, but you can insert your very own glorious adventures and fill in the gaps. Due to my good nature, I have:
• Helped an old person change a flat tire
• Driven a pregnant woman to the hospital because she went into labor
• Valiantly stopped a thief who stole a woman’s purse
6. A swarm of yellow jackets … swarmed me!
Not going to lie here, you need to be really skilled with the makeup brush for this one to work. Or have a makeup artist among your contacts. However, if you think that your lateness is really going to get you in serious trouble this time, then the yellow jackets swarm excuse might be just the thing to attract sympathy. Nevertheless, you might have to keep it up for a few days or for as long as yellow jacket stings take to subside.
7. I’m suffering from transient amnesia … wait, what am I doing here?
Do you know a psychologist who is prepared to forget the Hippocratic oath just to help you get out of trouble? Then you might want to try faking transient amnesia, a condition which implies that the patient suffers from random and spontaneous memory loss. The beauty of this story is that it can be reutilized several times, of course not to the point when the condition would make you incapable of performing your duties.
8. The police confused me for another murder suspect
Are you part of an ethnic group that is constantly portrayed as the prime crime suspects even though you have a crystal clear record? Then you can take advantage of the fact that people refrain from asking too many questions because they consider racism a taboo subject. This is another example of excuse that should not be abused, lest you want to raise suspicions regarding your alleged criminal activities.
9. Your morning schedule did not account for the fiber-rich breakfast bars
What this one is basically saying is that you spent more time in the bathroom than you originally anticipated, but in a nicer, cleaner way. There is no way people would pry further, not only because they don’t really want the gross details of your porcelain dependency problem, but also because it’s simply rude. However, excessive usage of the story is discouraged because you really don’t want your image associated with toilet jokes.
10. I was auditioning for American Idol
Here you really need to be prepared for the follow-up question “Oh! What are you performing?” in the sense that you should use a song variant that nobody would really like to hear. It works best if your horrible singer reputation precedes you, but in case the interlocutor is not familiar with your artistic talent you can either:
• Use a song that nobody wants to listen to because it gets stuck in your head for days (E.G. Yellow Submarine)
• Use a horribly mismatched genre cover for a popular song that everyone loves (E.G. black metal cover for Madonna’s “Frozen”)
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