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No, Really, Your Excuse is Totally Believable! (Cough, Cough) – 2008′s Most Unusual Excuses for Missing Work

Oh, come on – don’t get your I-love-staying-home-to-watch-Seinfeld-reruns-on-my-couch pajamas in a bunch. If you’ve called into work before when you’ve been feeling perfectly healthy, you’re in solid company with the 33 percent of workers who have done so this year, according to a newly released CareerBuilder.com survey on absenteeism. And if you haven’t fibbed (e.g., faked a cold while eating a pint of Chubby Hubby and alphabetizing your DVD collection), chances are one of your subordinates has.
Here are the highlights of the Most Unusual Excuses for Missing Work This Year:

  1. Thanksgiving karma  |   Employee hit a turkey (yes, a turkey) while riding a bike.
    Author’s Note: Animals - turkeys in particular – seem to be a hot topic this year. See our “Unusual Jobs” survey results for more on this phenomenon.
  2. Near-death experiences  |   Employee said he had a heart attack that morning, but that he was “all better now.”
  3. Just can’t find a thing to wear  |  Employee’s wife burned all his clothes and he had nothing to wear to work.
  4. They don’t have rifles, so…  |  Employee got kicked by a deer
  5. Paging Dionne Warwick  |  Employee’s psychic told her to stay home.
  6. Lightweight  |   Employee’s toe was injured when a soda can fell out of the refrigerator.
  7. Driving the dog to drink  |  Employee’s dog was stressed out after a family reunion  
  8. Kissed and unfortunately told  |   Employee contracted mono after kissing a mailroom intern at the company’s holiday party – and suggested the company post some sort of notice to warn others who may have kissed him.
  9. Well, I suppose that’s considerate, anyway. Grab your own pint of Ben and Jerry’s and read the full list of unusual excuses here.

     

The Real Reasons…

The nationwide survey of 6,800 workers and 3,300 employers also revealed the top reasons that workers who fibbed called in sick in the first place. While the unusual excuses may be a bit extreme, the real reasons that employees called off of work were yawn-worthy in comparison. Among the most popular:

  • Going into hiding: 9 percent wanted to miss a meeting, buy more time to finish a project under deadline, or avoid the wrath of a coworker or boss
  • The procrastination must end: 11 percent said they caught up on housework
  • Needing some QT: 11 percent also reported catching up with family and friends
  • One more snooze and I’ll get up… 22 percent reported needing to catch up on their zzzz’s
  • Just a check up?  27 percent said they had a doctor’s appointment
  • Taking a load off: 30 percent said they needed to relax and recharge
  • And the biggest reason? (drum roll, please): A whopping 34 percent just didn’t feel like going into work that day.

It appears that many people (I’m sure most of us can relate) feel that they don’t have enough time in the week to get everything done. And it seems that workers are prioritizing their time differently – some leaving more menial tasks undone; others possibly neglecting quality time with loved ones.

Are you a concerned employer…or a stalker?

While the majority said they typically don’t question their employees’ reasons for calling in sick, others aren’t so easygoing. Almost a third (31 percent) reported having checked up on employees, and 18 percent said they’ve fired a worker for missing work without a legitimate excuse.

Going a step further, of those who have checked up on an employee, 77 percent have asked for a doctor’s note, 50 percent have called the employee at home, and 17 percent drove by their employee’s place of residence (anyone remember what happened when Oscar was sick on “The Office”?).

The bottom line = communication

I know I harp on it a lot, but I really do think that lack of communication is the root of many workplace - not to mention personal – issues, and that with better communication, problems like the one above can be avoided. But said communication works both ways; employees as well as their bosses must be honest about their needs.

As Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder.com, says, “It’s in your best interest to be upfront with your employer and chances are you’ll get the time you need.”

She adds, “More companies today are moving toward a paid time off system, giving employees more flexibility in how they categorize time away from the office. Employers are also expanding the definition of the sick day with 65 percent stating that they allow their team members to use sick days for mental health days.”

So start talking with your employees, if you’re not already.

And, um, watch out for turkeys during your morning commute.

Amy K. McDonnell

About Amy K. McDonnell

Originally hailing from Ohio, Amy is the editorial manager on the content services team and has been with both CareerBuilder and the city of Chicago for nearly a decade. She writes on a range of recruitment topics on The Hiring Site, striving to bring a dose of clarity and humor to sometimes complicated issues around employee attraction, engagement and retention. When she's not working, Amy spends as much time as possible reading, pretending to be a chef, writing short stories, eating Nutella out of the jar, waiting for CTA buses and trains, going to see her favorite bands live, and spending time with people who inspire and challenge her.
58 comments
Holly
Holly

I had a very young employee tell me she could not come in because her cat needed braces. Another good one I heard was they're boyfriend got into a real bad car accident (near death, ICU, so tragic, the whole 9 yards), the boyfriend showed up the next morning looking for her. I guess the huge advances in modern medicine fix ICU patients overnight. I had a training class of some new CSRs and another girl's fiance had a car accident, she even got someone to call the office about it, a week later her parents called to see how her performance was at her new job, they thought I was lying when I told them I hadn't seen her since training. Oh no, not OUR daughter. Oh, and they didnt even know she had a fiance. You have to appreciate the creativity on the cat braces.

Holly
Holly

I had a very young employee tell me she could not come in because her cat needed braces. Another good one I heard was they're boyfriend got into a real bad car accident (near death, ICU, so tragic, the whole 9 yards), the boyfriend showed up the next morning looking for her. I guess the huge advances in modern medicine fix ICU patients overnight. I had a training class of some new CSRs and another girl's fiance had a car accident, she even got someone to call the office about it, a week later her parents called to see how her performance was at her new job, they thought I was lying when I told them I hadn't seen her since training. Oh no, not OUR daughter. Oh, and they didnt even know she had a fiance. You have to appreciate the creativity on the cat braces.

Karen
Karen

We had an employee call in on a Monday to say he found his wife in bed with a woman on Saturday night, and had to have to day off to look for a new apartment for himself.

Amy
Amy

We had a woman leave for a hair appt on her lunch break. She called later to say she could not return becuase they had botched her hair so badly she had to go find another hair salon to fix it.

Amy
Amy

We had a woman leave for a hair appt on her lunch break. She called later to say she could not return becuase they had botched her hair so badly she had to go find another hair salon to fix it.

R
R

There was a lady we had worked with that claimed she had been struck by lightening NOT ONCE, but twice ... she was cute little lady ... anyhow she called in once saying a snail bit her finger. I will never forget that. She didn't get in trouble because .. afterall ... she has been struck by lightening a few times ... would your head be all there??

R
R

There was a lady we had worked with that claimed she had been struck by lightening NOT ONCE, but twice ... she was cute little lady ... anyhow she called in once saying a snail bit her finger. I will never forget that. She didn't get in trouble because .. afterall ... she has been struck by lightening a few times ... would your head be all there??

Craig
Craig

Be careful with your Facebook status when you call in sick, this guy wasn't.
The Register.co.uk

seenitall?
seenitall?

We had an employee call in sick and leave a message on the boss's answering machine. The message was time-stamped for 3:30 a.m. Unfortunately, she was apparently so "sick" that she failed to notice that she hadn't actually hung up the phone. After she said "bye," the recording kept going, with the sound of clinking beer bottles, and her voice saying "my supervisor is so dXXX dumb; she'll believe anything! Get me another beer!" When we fired her, we simply played back the message to her. Case closed. And no, she didn't win her unemployment case either.

seenitall?
seenitall?

We had an employee call in sick and leave a message on the boss's answering machine. The message was time-stamped for 3:30 a.m. Unfortunately, she was apparently so "sick" that she failed to notice that she hadn't actually hung up the phone. After she said "bye," the recording kept going, with the sound of clinking beer bottles, and her voice saying "my supervisor is so dXXX dumb; she'll believe anything! Get me another beer!" When we fired her, we simply played back the message to her. Case closed. And no, she didn't win her unemployment case either.

Heather
Heather

I had an employee call in because she saw a dead body of a person who jump off the bridge right in front of her. She was traumatized for 3 Days.

Jane
Jane

The IRS was looking for some important information about a man's personal tax return from two years prior. The information he needed to turn in was in a storage unit 2 blocks away, but when he got there, he realized the building had burned down. On day 3, he was still looking for that important document.

Tempy
Tempy

I once had a guy who didn't show up to work because he didn't have a toothbrush & couldn't brush his teeth.

Tempy
Tempy

I once had a guy who didn't show up to work because he didn't have a toothbrush & couldn't brush his teeth.

gemini
gemini

We work more than just about anyone in the world. Work is the leading cause of stress, neurosis and angst in this life. Call in "well" and take a health day and just relax - employers: lighten up!
You can't keep workers more than 2 years now anyway! Treat them better you might get a whole 3 before they bolt to the competition!

gemini
gemini

We work more than just about anyone in the world. Work is the leading cause of stress, neurosis and angst in this life. Call in "well" and take a health day and just relax - employers: lighten up!
You can't keep workers more than 2 years now anyway! Treat them better you might get a whole 3 before they bolt to the competition!

Vivian Zlobec
Vivian Zlobec

HR
One employee called in sick because he had been outside all day playing with his children and was too tired to come in.

One of our HR employees called in sick, sobbing, because she had hurt the tip of her little finger. It was fine the next day, no sign of injury.

Another called in sick because her team had lost the volleyball game the day before and she couldn't face them.

Vivian Zlobec
Vivian Zlobec

HR
One employee called in sick because he had been outside all day playing with his children and was too tired to come in.

One of our HR employees called in sick, sobbing, because she had hurt the tip of her little finger. It was fine the next day, no sign of injury.

Another called in sick because her team had lost the volleyball game the day before and she couldn't face them.

Maureen
Maureen

I had and emmployee who was beginning to make lunch time about 3 to 4 hours long.

One time he said that he had an accident so he had to go home to change his clothes. At first I thought it was a car accident but then figured out he meant that he had pooped on himself. No way to confirm that!

Another time he said that it took him 3 hours to get back from just 12 miles away. There was no traffic jam though.

R Weyel
R Weyel

I was helping open new stores in Southern Ca, and an employee called in "well" the surf was breaking at 8' and he was going surfin' instead of coming to work.

Chris Cassidy
Chris Cassidy

I had an employee who called in to say that she had a flat tire and couldn't get it fixed because all of the stores were closed due to the superbowl. Her story was even more unbelievable because the super bowl was the following weekend.

Joanna
Joanna

"I ate a frosted flake and now my teeth hurt."
or "I got sprayed by a skunk and have to go home". The second one we could confirm with our noses.

CherylCPA
CherylCPA

I had an employee call in one day to say she couldn't come in to work because it was her boyfriend's birthday.

Another--the employee said he only owned one pair of slacks and when he got up that morning he realized they had a hole in them so he couldn't come to work.

Mary Parenti
Mary Parenti

I had an employee call and say she wouldn't be in because she had to thaw out her South American Hedgehog. She'd left it on the balcony all night and it went into hibernation.

Mary Parenti
Mary Parenti

I had an employee call and say she wouldn't be in because she had to thaw out her South American Hedgehog. She'd left it on the balcony all night and it went into hibernation.

Trish
Trish

We had employee call in and take off 5 days because her breast were inflamed.

Kathryn
Kathryn

I had an employee call to say they would be late because they "thought" they had a flat tire. I asked why they only thought it was flat. She replied by saying that only the bottom of the tire was flat the top was fine.

Kathryn
Kathryn

I had an employee call to say they would be late because they "thought" they had a flat tire. I asked why they only thought it was flat. She replied by saying that only the bottom of the tire was flat the top was fine.

Lyndy
Lyndy

This happened to me, the HR Manager. I could not get to work becasue there was a house in the road. There was a truck pulling a house at 2 mph taking up both lanes of a 2 lane road. It took 2 hours for it to get past my work place entrance.

Lyndy
Lyndy

This happened to me, the HR Manager. I could not get to work becasue there was a house in the road. There was a truck pulling a house at 2 mph taking up both lanes of a 2 lane road. It took 2 hours for it to get past my work place entrance.

Mike
Mike

I didn't sleep all night and can't come in today because I'm too tired.

skelleylha
skelleylha

I had an employee call off..."because he ate some raw lettuce".

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

We had hired a decent-sounding applicant for our construction company. The morning he was due to start he used his one phone call to tell us he was in jail and couldn't make it to work. We never did hear from him again.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth

We had hired a decent-sounding applicant for our construction company. The morning he was due to start he used his one phone call to tell us he was in jail and couldn't make it to work. We never did hear from him again.

evesteph
evesteph

"The season is changing and the horses know it." One employee calls in frequently because she has to deal with "unruly horses" & horse chores...

evesteph
evesteph

"The season is changing and the horses know it." One employee calls in frequently because she has to deal with "unruly horses" & horse chores...

Jacquelyn
Jacquelyn

I just cam back form taking my parents to the airport and I thnk I am suffering from jet lag.
MY mom just lost her vision so I am taking her to the doctor. Mothers vision must have returned saw her the next day and she way driving. I saw the news and it was very upsetting I don't think I am up to coming in. These are all from the same person and she has many more, so many she could write a book. Oh and her boss has not even spoken to her about her attendance even though he gets these excuses on a daily basis. You think this doesn't5 effect the morale in the office of the loyal workers.

Jacquelyn
Jacquelyn

I just cam back form taking my parents to the airport and I thnk I am suffering from jet lag.
MY mom just lost her vision so I am taking her to the doctor. Mothers vision must have returned saw her the next day and she way driving. I saw the news and it was very upsetting I don't think I am up to coming in. These are all from the same person and she has many more, so many she could write a book. Oh and her boss has not even spoken to her about her attendance even though he gets these excuses on a daily basis. You think this doesn't5 effect the morale in the office of the loyal workers.

jdauntie
jdauntie

I had an employee call in that she was going to be late for work because her dog had eaten her keys and she had to wait for them to come out the other end. We had all seen her key ring and the dog must have been as big as an elephant to swallow them!

jdauntie
jdauntie

I had an employee call in that she was going to be late for work because her dog had eaten her keys and she had to wait for them to come out the other end. We had all seen her key ring and the dog must have been as big as an elephant to swallow them!

Bob the builder
Bob the builder

My cat is sick and needs to be given pills every 6 hours.

What the heck!?
What the heck!?

How about "it's my grandparents anniversary" or "my son has a friends birthday party to go to" or "my husband needs to go to the doctor" or "my sons nap schedule is off and I need to straighten it out" all provided by the same person too!! This is why the worst employees are the ones who take the job for something to do but not necessarily needing it. Watch out for these people!!

Stacie
Stacie

An employee once called off work stating "my cat's tail is frozen to the tree out front". The next day, the story turned out to be true, as documented in a local events feature in the newspaper. By the way, the kitty cat came out of the whole thing fine, and the employee returned to work the next day.

Stacie
Stacie

An employee once called off work stating "my cat's tail is frozen to the tree out front". The next day, the story turned out to be true, as documented in a local events feature in the newspaper. By the way, the kitty cat came out of the whole thing fine, and the employee returned to work the next day.

Susan
Susan

One employee said her hot water heater had broken, so she couldn't wash her hair. Had to stay home.

Susan
Susan

One employee said her hot water heater had broken, so she couldn't wash her hair. Had to stay home.

Queen of Ohio
Queen of Ohio

One snowy February day in the middle of a blizzard, an employee said she couldn't come to work because she was having a yard sale. "A yard sales in a blizzard?" I asked. "Well, of course I can't have it in the yard because of the weather," she replied. "I'm having it on my porch."

Queen of Ohio
Queen of Ohio

One snowy February day in the middle of a blizzard, an employee said she couldn't come to work because she was having a yard sale. "A yard sales in a blizzard?" I asked. "Well, of course I can't have it in the yard because of the weather," she replied. "I'm having it on my porch."

MrsMac
MrsMac

I worked for a Doctor's office with several physicians. One year we had lost electricity throughout the city. 3 Doctor's called to say they could not make it because their electricity was out so their garage doors would not open. We had to explain what that rope hanging from the garage door opener was for.

MrsMac
MrsMac

My husband had an employee call in one day to say he couldn't be there because his thumb hurt.

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