The White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland scurries into the story early on, frantic and muttering to himself that he’s ‘late for an important date’. If there is a human anywhere who cannot relate, I would love to find out the secret for not ever being late. (Perhaps it is to never have appointments or dates?)
Well, he scurries about in my thoughts sometimes as I juggle the various parts of my life. It often seems to be the transitions from one aspect to another that are most difficult to time just right – leaving home for work, leaving work for an afternoon appointment of one kind or another. Getting to work on time seems to be quite difficult for everyone at one time or another (the disruptive weather this winter over much of the US as case in point), but for some it seems to be darn near impossible every day.
There was a teaser announcement on the news the other day that they would be doing a story on employee excuses for being late to work on a later broadcast (must have been a slow news day) and that got me thinking. As a boss I have had employees who have struggled with timeliness and as a person I have had moments of untimeliness.
I don’t think that I’ve been given any really interesting stories for tardiness from employees, nothing is coming to mind since I heard about this on the news. Perhaps it is because I’ve never demanded explanation. ‘Sorry that I’m late’ mostly suffices for me. If it becomes a pattern, we’ll talk – but it will be focused on solutions like changing your routine, possibly changing your start time, not on why. Reasoning is important, excuses are a waste.
As an employee I have had two instances that were a bit out of the ordinary and they occurred about a year apart.
The first was after my mom had died and since I wasn’t sleeping very well at that time, I wasn’t actually late just nearly so. I woke up that morning thinking of a particular photo of my mom from the previous Christmas so strongly that I had to find the picture. I could not start my day until I had that one and only that one photo with me. My responsible side argued that I didn’t need the photo to go about my work day and I could find the picture after work. But the pull was too powerful, grief demanded that I get my hands on that picture. I did find it, I put it in an envelope in my purse (I carry it still) and got on with my day.
On the morning of the second example, I was mentally ready for work – I was currently without a direct boss and reporting to the senior manager and I wanted to be sharp. I pushed the button for my garage door, it went up an inch or two and stopped. I pushed again and it went down. I pushed again and it whirred, but did nothing. Uh oh. I pulled the door up manually and it slammed back down (I found out later that the springs were shot.) Hmm. My boys were already at school. How could I get the car out of the garage? I called friends, family to find someone to hold the door open while I drove the car out. Time became short and I had to call the senior manager to explain that I couldn’t get my car out of the garage. I even thought about flagging down a stranger and asking them to hold the door open – I was getting desperate – when a friend called back and was able to come over to help.
What is your weirdest or best excuse for being late?
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