IT Employment

The worst excuses for missing work

A CareerBuilder survey reveals some of the weirdest reasons employees have given to explain a day off.

 A CareerBuilder survey reveals some of the weirdest reasons employees have given to explain a day off.

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You've got to hand it to the folks over at CareerBuilder.com, they conduct some interesting surveys. As part of its latest survey, CareerBuilder got employers to share some of the most unusual reasons employees gave to explain an absence:

  • Employee didn't want to lose the parking space in front of his house.
  • Employee hit a turkey while riding a bike.
  • Employee said he had a heart attack early that morning, but that he was "all better now."
  • Employee donated too much blood.
  • Employee's dog was stressed out after a family reunion.
  • Employee was kicked by a deer.
  • Employee contracted mono after kissing a mailroom intern at the company holiday party and suggested the company post some sort of notice to warn others who may have kissed him.
  • Employee swallowed too much mouthwash.
  • Employee's wife burned all his clothes and he had nothing to wear to work.
  • Employee's toe was injured when a soda can fell out of the refrigerator.
  • Employee was up all night because the police were investigating the death of someone discovered behind her house.
  • Employee's psychic told her to stay home.

Who knew the turkey one could work?!

Another interesting little detail revealed by this particular survey, which was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive on behalf of CareerBuilder.com among 3,388 hiring managers and human resource professionals, is that quite a few managers check up on their employees who claim to be out of commission for one reason or another:

Of the 31 percent of employers who checked up on an employee who called in sick, 71 percent said they required the employee to show them a doctor's note. Fifty-six percent called the employee at home, 18 percent had another worker call the employee, and 17 percent drove by the employee's house or apartment.

I won't even begin to calculate the creepiness factor on that last one.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

86 comments
Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

"Sorry boss, I'll be about five hours late as I have to work four hours overtime at my other job to cover another employee who's not attending due to a family medical emergency." yes, I saw it used, and yes it was allowed as a time off without pay. We have a common one here of - "Sorry, got called in to work most of the night with the volunteer emergency service." This is usually accepted and OK, except when your boss is the volunteer emergency service captain and he KNOWS no volunteers were called out last night - a guy got warned for his BS when he got caught that way.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

tell me one semester "Because I broke up with my boyfriend." That one didn't have a job the following semester.

Rick_from_BC
Rick_from_BC

I worked for a small firm with strong religious ties. Work was good, and I enjoyed it. The manager called me in one day and asked, very concerned, about my absences. He had noticed that over about a year, all my 'lost' days were Mondays. He was very direct, and asked if possibly I was partying too hard on the weekend. I told him that , no, it wasn't that. If I felt sick during the week, I'd tough it out 'til the weekend. Sometimes it just lasted through the Monday. 'Nuff said.

Autumn_Leaves
Autumn_Leaves

How about the kid's hamster had a stroke, was paralyzed on one side and they had to take it to the vet?

MikeIT
MikeIT

Former coworker called in sick because she had chapped lips...and it worked. Day off, no questions asked. Grrr. I gathered as many tubes of ChapStick as I could find (it was a retail job) and left them for her.

sgeiger
sgeiger

I had a couple call in within about an hour of each other. The male called in due to his cow dying... Kinda sad. His girlfriend called later because her boyfriends family was having a big cook out...... Only in Ky...

jsbell
jsbell

As Toni says, its positively creepy that bosses would go to the trouble of spying on their employees when they take some time off. I like my current contract arrangement. I don't show for work, I don't get paid. Nobody cares what I do on my own time, and that's just the way I like it. I keep my job by going in and doing a good day's work, and letting my boss know if and when my schedule is going to have variations. I am judged on the basis of the work I do, not the patterns of my private life. That's how it oughta be.

dpanzer
dpanzer

In Philly today that excuse is being accepted with pleasure! GO PHILS!

HRLegal
HRLegal

Employee had cherry tree in bloom outside her house and she couldn't go to her car because she's alergic.

TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827

I called her office at 8am (she usually worked 7-7) and told her that I wasn't coming in because she was sicker than a dog and was simply spreading it around. (She would not take a sick day to save her life) and the day before, she was simply a walking sickness distribution machine. TripleII

Theaxman
Theaxman

1. Guy walks into an executive meeting and says, "I'm sorry I'm late, I got stuck in something." He was a newlywed. 2. Friend of mine called in and said, "I'm just not feeling it today and I don't want to give you anything less than my best effort." Manager cracked up, but applauded his honesty. 3. I have a common name and wrongfully spent 14 hrs in jail one night and morning (after being stopped for a traffic violation). So my excuse was, "I was in jail for being me." 4. Co-worker said she didn't have anything professional to wear after getting a boob job. 5. Friend who was hunting over a weekend told his boss, "I haven't caught crap all weekend and I'm not coming in until I catch a deer." He was fired after that.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Three weeks b4 I married my ex-wife her maid of honor increased in cup size from an A to a D. Two days before the wedding her implant had a defect and had to be removed immediately. They left it out for a week to make sure there wasn't any infection or other complications. I was at her house and overheard her explaing to her supervisor that her implants were different sizes and her clothes didn't fit right so she couldn't possibly come to work. I think I would have left my excuse at "surgical complications" and wouldn't explain anything unless asked directly.

Donald.Dohm
Donald.Dohm

Yeah, I lost that job. I was a teenager at that time, and was especially embarassed after I just finished telling this elaborate story about the funeral, details galore, etc. Then the boss calmly said "I just got off the phone with your father, whom I called looking for you". I said "I guess I don't work there any more huh?", and was told "right". Bummer...

Donald.Dohm
Donald.Dohm

Yeah, I lost that job. I was a teenager at that time, and was especially embarassed after I just finished telling this elaborate story about the funeral, details galore, etc. Then the boss calmly said "I just got off the phone with your father, whom I called looking for you". I said "I guess I don't work there any more huh?", and was told "right". Bummer...

OnTheRopes
OnTheRopes

I asked him about that after he came in and he gave me the wink. I told him that I'd been saving that up in my excuse file and that now I could never use it.

jdclyde
jdclyde

Admittedly, it was a union shop, so I could get away with it. It was a sure thing that twice a month, I would call in drunk for Thursday from dart night being on Wednesday. My boss came up to me one day and mentioned they had caller ID, because when a night was going along nicely, I would know I wasn't going to feel like getting up and would call in from the bar the night before and leave a message. My reply to him was "And?". Union rule was if you don't have doctors slip, it is "unexcused". If it is unexcused no matter how good an excuse I make up, why give one at all? A co-worker at the time started to get grilled by one of the office girls one day when he called in about WHY he wouldn't be in. His reply was "My balls itch". They never asked him again.... ;\

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

...are just made up answers that were given in order to see if they would get 'published'. I know I've done a few things to try and see if I could say something outrageous enough to 'get noticed' (Poetry.com is a total farce, I have some real dog food out there...and yet, I still get e-mails asking me if I want to buy the books in which they will be published...HA); and some of these just seem a little too outlandish. Then again, I live in a country that just gave about $1 trillion or so to a bunch of people that have demonstrated no capacity/desire to competently handle or understand money, so what do I know??? ;)

Tig2
Tig2

"I totaled the car when I hit the deer." Most employers here get that one at least once every Fall/Winter season. Having come way too close to hitting a deer myself, I understand why the employee would just rather take the day off.

neilb
neilb

told me to stay home and sharpen my knives...

OnTheRopes
OnTheRopes

Odd part about that was that my favorite dog died just about the same time. I might have had tears in my eyes for awhile but I made it in to work every day.

hilld
hilld

Coworker was kicked by his Emu. Later we had a barbecue.

asherida
asherida

I'm Wiccan, and the people at work know that. I got called into my manager's office after a few too many sick days because she noticed that they were always "on or near" the full moon. I hadn't even noticed the timing (and later it turned out I had a heart murmur making me feel so rotten).

brian.olson
brian.olson

I was early 20's and still living with my parents. I worked for a shipping company loading trucks while going to school. Middle of the night, I awoke to frantic pounding and doorbell ringing. It was 2am, so there was no way this was good news. I opened the front door to see 2 police officers - one crouched with his sidearm, the other cocking his shotgun. I just about crapped myself. It turned out that they were there to get us out of the house because our next door neighbor had barricaded himself in his house, was armed and shooting at people out the window. I woke my parents and got them out as well. At the time I was also a volunteer firefighter, so we were able to take refuge at the firehouse until things calmed down. When I called my supervisor, I don't think he beleived me at all until I told him to turn on the TV news - my house was on TV! The next day, I talked to my supervisor. His only comment was "I expect you won't be using that excuse in the future, will you?"

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

I like getting paid when I'm not there. Vacations, children's doctor's appointments, sick days and the like. My g/f is a nurse and I love how her time works. Sick time, vacation and OT hours are all lumped into one "acrued time" category. She just calls in and says she's not coming, and they deduct X hours from her time. Kinda nice not having to explain yourself IMO. I like that better than me having to call and submit a document stating to deduct from my annual leave, sick time, bereavement, comp time or whatever. Of course it would never work in IT because we nitpick too much as a whole. But I gotta say I LOVE the way her time off deductions work. Makes me mad when I have to call in "sick/whatever" with her and she just "calls in"!

mr_bandit
mr_bandit

Actually, I have an ex-girlfriend (we are still god friends) whose father's house was hit by lightning. It superheated the air under the house && blew it about 6 inches into the air. The first she knew of it was the elderly neighbor lady calling her at work saying "Dear, your father is OK, but his house blew up." She showed up, emergency folks all around. All the glass in the house was trashed, except for the liquor cabinet. He was standing in the wreckage with a *large* whiskey in hand. He made the local papers, got a per-diem for hotel and meals, and generally was a minor celebrity for a while.. Really did the old guy good.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Had a freak "downdraft" one year during the tornado season. I had to explain this to my boss via the phone since a tree was on my car and blocking my garage where my truck and the (then) wife's car were parked. He laughed and said "Have fun with your "sick" day with your wife while the kids are at school". He thought I was joking and gave me points for originality. I had to email him pics from atop the car with chainsaw in hand to make him beleive me. **edited because my "n" key sticks**

dclaxon
dclaxon

Tigger, they're pretty thick in Illinois too. I haven't hit any myself yet, but I've passed several pounds of venison on the shoulder on my 15 mile commute. A few years ago my brother and his son both got their trucks attacked by deer in the same season. My brother was driving a brand new truck, and saw the deer running down the hill, and being an engineer calculated the trajectories, realized they were on a collision course and changed speeds to avoid the deer. The suicidal deer changed course to cave in his driver's door. A short time later his son's truck was totaled by a deer. (I think it was the second deer that had hit that truck in the same spot.)

Lizzie_B
Lizzie_B

on the evening of your post. Hit a deer in my '92 Saturn at 50+ mph. Made a real mess of the poor old car...

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

We have an exotic ranch near my house tucked away discretely. Very few visitors and they make most of their $$$ renting exotic animals to movie/tv film crews. Once, a buffalo escaped and someone crashed into it when it wandered into a 55mph zone just after a blind corner. The car was totaled and the female driver actually suffered a few cracked ribs, a broken arm and a concussion. The buff buffalo simply wandered back home, just a few bruises/cuts. I couldn't imagine calling to work explaining that you need a few weeks off because you were badly hurt when you ran into a water buffalo. Not to mention explaining to the insurance rep that you totalled an f150 on a buffalo.

Tink!
Tink!

I didn't make it in to work because an elderly lady driving her car turned in front of me at an intersection where I had right-of-way. Incidentally, I lost that job because of that accident. Couldn't afford to get another car, and public transportation would have cost a day's pay.

GSG
GSG

Deer are a very real hazard around here. Nothing like seeing a deer that's been hit by a semi travelling at 80 mph. First you see a leg, then 100 yards later, a leg, etc... Deer vs. motorcycle and the deer will win every time.

dclaxon
dclaxon

I couldn't get to sleep last night, because the voices in my head just wouldn't shut up.

maecuff
maecuff

are telling me to go home and take a nap. My voices are sorta boring. They never tell me to do anything odd. Other than, occasionally, insisting that I wear a live chicken as a hat.

Wizard-09
Wizard-09

Phoned in to tell the boss that I had some bussiness to attend too that require me to be bed bound that I would be in later that day, my boss was great he told everyone in tech support that it just so happen that my girlfriend in the company also phone in the red face that day but i was all good lol.

JamesRL
JamesRL

It would have sent an interesting message.... James

Tig2
Tig2

They're active and the bucks are randy so they think anything is a candidate for mating. We were driving back from bird hunting in Superior National Forest last year and counted upward of 50 deer on the roads going into Duluth. We were driving pretty cautiously because of the numbers of deer but were surprised by the number of idiot drivers that blew by us at speed. Some of those bucks were pretty agitated and I watched one start to charge one of the cars ahead of us. Of course, the minute that deer season opens, they all softly and silently vanish away. If they don't mind going head to head with a car, why don't they want to meet up with a hunter?

Tig2
Tig2

I drive a Saturn SC2. I am always extremely cautious this time of year. The one I nearly hit was in my 94 Saturn SL2. You aren't kidding about the mess that can make. Bad news is that against a Saturn, the deer just gives himself a shake and wanders off while the car is totaled. I sincerely hope that you are okay. I know many people who don't fare well in the car versus deer accidents.

santeewelding
santeewelding

You found work, and you missed it? I know I miss you.

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

But I was on a motorcycle. I suffered a broken femur, three broken metacarpal shafts, two broken ribs and some moderate internal bleeding which called for a transfusion. I remember lying on the ground and wiggling my toes since my shoes were knocked off and then checking my pants to make sure "everything was ok". After realizing I wasn't parlyzed and "everything was intact," I remember being quite relieved and unusally happy and polite to all people involoved and EMS staff that helped me. If someone calls from the ER on your behalf your employer is musch more understanding. :) Cooincidentally I now beleive that people over 55 should face mandatory eye exams annually. Some may say that's biased or unfair. But I say they can take the exam or have thier nether regions slammed into a motorcycle gas tank at 55mph like I did and see how they like it. :)

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

...this was going to be some sort of 'Death Race 2000' scenario. What a bummer! (that you lost the job and that the post wasn't humorous...not that I actually want to read about Granny Smith really getting the King Solomon treatment) My better half works for an insurance company, and she gets at least 2 calls a day from people looking to sue someone because they lost a job due to an accident.

tcavadias
tcavadias

My son was in a motorcycle accident last year. He hit a dog (lab) that darted out in front of him - it was nighttime and the dog was black so he never saw it until it darted in front of him. He hit it going 55 mph - while my son walked away with some sprains and road rash (he was wearing a full face helmet, gloves, leather jacket, boots) - the dog however was not so lucky. Poor dog was split in two.. grosses thing I have ever seen. -Tammy :-)

neilb
neilb

They only ever suggest that I wear dead chickens. I - and they - are well aware that live chickens only stay on when nailed down.

Lizzie_B
Lizzie_B

I had a fraction of second glimpse of the deer coming from the left in the headlights of an oncoming SUV. Just enough time to hit the brakes, get firmer control of the steering wheel and miss the first of the deer. I hadn't seen the second deer, just behind the first. I was lucky. I was able to drive home. I can still walk. I'm not in the hospital, recovering from emergency surgery, paralyzed from the waist down by a second, severe spinal fracture - as might have happened. Yes, I'm still in command. Part driving skill, part luck. I am grateful.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Then hitting a deer and discussing it here means you are not a candidate for resuscitation. It's like walking into the ER. The first thing they note is that you did. You're still in command.

Lizzie_B
Lizzie_B

No real work yet. I'm hoping to save this excuse for use when I do get a job. It's like accruing personal leave, only different. ;-) I got a temp job as a web monkey, redoing a site for one of the local Universities. The position runs through the end of December, but the job was finished after about 40 hours of work. Hitting the deer *did* mean that I wasn't able to get my last time card (< 2 hours) in to the office on time, but the management felt that under the circumstances, they would accept an emailed time card until I can get the original in tomorrow. It's hard to call in sick when you work at home...

cupcake
cupcake

I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason... and there you go!

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

...I didn't say anything about getting any $$$!! ;) Actually, mi esposa likes those calls, as that immediately takes the file from her desk, and sends it to legal. To pass the buck yourself is lazy. To have it passed for you is fortuitous!! ;)

jdclyde
jdclyde

It IS what people mean when they say someone is "In a better place now", isn't it? :0 :p

Tink!
Tink!

NOW someone tells me! LOL. Turns out to be a good thing. That job was a dead-end and I'm in a better place now. :)

Tig2
Tig2

Thanks for the reminder that all pets should be spayed or neutered. There are so many that have miserable lives and no forever homes. Errors of the repeating post kind are common around here. We're happy to have made your acquaintance and hope to see more of you. The cat scarf is my personal own invention. Well partly. I had a Lynx point Siamese that loved to drape himself around my neck. I would have sworn that the cat had no bones whatsoever- he would just go totally limp. I have a Calico now that would be a gorgeous accessory but she is way too energetic to be a good scarf.

C. Swanevelder
C. Swanevelder

Sorry about the three posts which were the same. This was my first post here and I had an error. I didn't know it would still be posted. Every day you learn something new. About the cats, just make sure they are neutered, oterwise you could end up in a love triangle!

TonytheTiger
TonytheTiger

I could probably come up with some sort of quick-change universal bracket that would attach to your head with self-tapping screws, then just get several of the mating bracket and attach them to your favorite accessories.

maecuff
maecuff

Than my idea of a live boa boa. :)

Tig2
Tig2

You may not ALWAYS want to wear poultry as an accessory. Some days you may be in more of a cat mood. I find the cat as a fashion accessory to be a must. You need a willing cat and they work nicely as a scarf. You do have to remember to stick kitty treats in a convenient pocket.

maecuff
maecuff

I don't think you should ever superglue any accessory to your person. They should be easily changed.

C. Swanevelder
C. Swanevelder

You could superglue the live chickens (and obviously the dead chickens as well) to your head (just remember if you use dead chickens to get a fresh one occasionally, otherwise the stink will get you). The problem with live chickens is that they have to defecate occasionally (you can rectify that problem e ventually by not feeding it), then all the people stare at you the whole day. The other problem is that live chickens never sit stil, and believe me, you will get a headacke from all that hair pulling and talons gripping your scalp! And... excuse me, I have to go drink my pills, the staff is watching me

C. Swanevelder
C. Swanevelder

I have found that supergluing the chickens to my head works quite well. The big problem according to my experience are that live chickens have no mannners and will defecate (my, what a vocabulary I have! I almost used a better word.) on you head, then people will stare at you. The other problem are that the chickens will try to fly away and that hurts whe they pull your hair!

C. Swanevelder
C. Swanevelder

I have found that supergluing the chickens to my head works quite well. The big problem according to my experience are that live chickens have no mannners and will defecate (my, what a vocabulary I have! I almost used a better word.) on you head, then people will stare at you. The other problem are that the chickens will try to fly away and that hurts whe they pull your hair!

maecuff
maecuff

should get together with my voices. Scary thought. Although, we MAY be able to take over the world. Or implode. It could go either way.

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