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Top 10 Excuses For Getting Out of Work

We’ve all been there: it’s a beautiful day and you can’t bear the thought of going into work. So you call in with the lame-old excuse about feeling ill even though you know your boss doesn’t buy it. Besides, “feeling ill” is at best only a short-term solution that won’t win you any fans at the office. That’s why if you’re going to play hooky, you need an excuse that will help you save face as well as your sanity. Here are some ideas.

1. (For women) “I have really bad cramps.” Now before you dismiss this one, think about it: Who can argue? It’s such an embarrassing topic that nobody will ever challenge you. It’s one of those things that men honestly have no clue about and women can sympathize with.

2. (For men) “I have horrible diarrhea.” Again, before you dismiss this one, remember that it’s such an embarrassing topic – especially for a man – nobody will doubt your sincerity. Plus, it’s simple. You don’t need an elaborate back story because no one wants to hear the details. If anything, your boss and co-workers will admire you for your honesty.

3. “I’m having an allergic reaction to _______, and I need a day to recover.” This excuse requires a few details about when and where it happened as well as the details of your food allergy, but Google should give you everything you need. The upside of this excuse is that you can use it more than once. The downside is that it requires a good memory and some vigilance: for instance, you can’t claim a peanut allergy and then gorge yourself on Thai food at the next company junket.

4. “My grandmother’s/grandfather’s memorial service is today.” This excuse works for two reasons: first, because elderly people die everyday no one is going to think your excuse is unlikely; second, no one is going to question (or resent) a death in your family for fear of offending you. If you play your cards right, this excuse is good for four free days – one for each grandparent – with each new job.

5. “My wife/husband is extremely ill and I need to stay home and take care of them.” The excuse is a gem not only because you get a day off, but also because it makes you seem sensitive. The only drawback is that it requires an accomplice – namely, your spouse. As such, you may want to save this excuse for a special occasion when the two of you can organize a special three-day weekend.

6. “One of my children locked themselves in the basement. I couldn’t get them out myself so we had to call the fire department.” This is only one of a multitude of excuses you can use with mischievous children. Just recycle the same formula – child gets in trouble, child needs help, parent to the rescue. This works with children of all ages, from children traumatized by irresponsible day-care workers to playground fights to errant teenagers. (Hey, this is one of the perks of having kids – they torment us 364 days of the year and we get 1 day off. Fair trade.)

7. “I took some work home last night and will be going through it today from home.” Whoever invented telecommuting should be sainted. Just remember that in order to sell the “working from home” excuse you need to email or call the office a couple times throughout the day to maintain the ruse that you’re working. The best time to do this is at lunch – that way you get credit for the call but you don’t have to answer too many questions.

8. “My next door neighbor’s house caught on fire last night and damaged a small part of our roof. So I’ll have to spend the day with the insurance company and the assessors.” Again, this is a formula: something happened to a neighbor (fire, flood, nuclear fallout), and you are involved through no fault of your own. The important thing is to keep it small. Make it more of an annoyance than a disaster. The idea is to convince your boss and co-workers that you are the unlucky one. “Trust me,” you say, “I would much rather be at work.”

9. “I got pulled over for speeding on my way to work the other day and I have to go to traffic school.” The idea here is that you had minor trouble with the law (emphasis on minor) and you have to pay your dues. A variation on this would be letting your license expire – or at least claiming it did – which means you had to go to the DMV and take a written test as well as a driving test, which could easily take a full day. After all, the DMV has its reputation for a reason.

And finally…

10. “My accountant made some clerical errors on my taxes and I’m being audited.” In the wake of the Enron scandal and the demise of Arthur Andersen, this excuse is a sure-thing. The important thing is to make the accountant look like the bad guy – you just need to be there to make sure he doesn’t do anything shady. Once again, the key to this excuse is to make everyone feel sorry for you, not envy you.

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