By Robert Goldman

June 20, 2019 6 min read

If you're wondering why this week's column is so lame, I have an explanation. I'm sick.

Or, to be medically precise, I'm telling everyone I'm sick. But really, I'm perfectly healthy. So, telling everyone I'm sick is kind of sick.

Would you ever do anything so sneaky?

Of course you would.

There are many advantages to telling your employer you're sick and can't possibly come to work. No. 1, you get to spend the day doing things you like instead of doing things you hate. And you get paid for it!

Plus, when you are sufficiently well enough to go back to work, you get all kinds of sympathy. All you have to do is cover your desktop with pills and potions, cough weakly and clutch the furniture to steady your dizziness. The sympathy could last through weeks of your personal brand of less-than-stellar performance. Instead of getting the blame you deserve, you'll get the praise you don't deserve.

"It's so inspirational he came in to work," your co-workers will say. "I hear the poor schnook is at death's door."

What could go wrong with pretending to be sick?

You could get caught.

That's what happened to the poor schnook whose mendacity was revealed when her manager found photos of said employee cavorting with other slackers on Facebook. (Come to think of it, this could be the way your employer figured out that instead of going to the emergency room, you went to Disneyland. You always thought it was when you showed up the next day wearing mouse ears.)

I've been thinking about bogus excuses ever since I found an interesting post on the CareerBuilder website: Debra Auerbach's "10 absurd excuses workers have used to call in sick."

The article is from 2015, so the data is a tad ancient. Still, Auerbach reports that "38 percent of employees have called in to work sick when they were actually feeling perfectly fine."

Thirty-eight percent was a 10-point jump from the previous year, and I think we can safely assume that the trend has continued. This is worrisome. Our bosses are already looking for reasons why we fragile humans should be replaced by machines. Do we really want to remind them that robots don't get migraines? (Actually, they do. They just don't complain about them.)

Also disturbing is just how uninspired the excuses turn out to be. Twenty-seven percent "said they had a doctor's appointment. ... 21 percent said they needed to catch up on sleep and 12 percent blamed bad weather."

And you thought "The dog ate my homework" was pathetic.

As it happens, not everyone is so tragically unimaginative. Auerbach's post includes the 10 "most memorable, real-life examples employers have heard for workplace absences." Being a helpful type, I've included my own in-depth research as to how each excuse will be received.

"(My) grandmother poisoned (me) with ham."

Believable. It is why many supermarkets require grannies to present a prescription before they're allowed to buy ham.

"(I) was stuck under the bed."

Believable. You were hiding from your grandmother.

"(I) broke (my) arm reaching to grab a falling sandwich."

Believable, as anyone who has come between you and a sandwich can testify.

"The universe was telling (me) to take a day off."

Unbelievable. If the universe was really talking to you, you would have quit years ago.

"(My) wife found out (I) was cheating. (I) had to spend the day retrieving (my) belongings from the dumpster."

Believable. Everyone thinks your clothes came from the dumpster in the first place.

"(I) poked (myself) in the eye while combing (my) hair."

Unbelievable. That you could be such a major klutz is beyond doubt, but no one will believe that you comb your hair.

"(My) wife put all (my) underwear in the washer."

Marginally believable. To improve credibility, you may want to add, "And those are my only pairs."

"The meal (I) cooked for a department potluck did not turn out well."

Unbelievable. Everyone loves your jellied moose nose, even when it doesn't turn out perfectly.

"(I) was going to the beach because the doctor said (I) needed more vitamin D."

Unbelievable. Everyone knows you can get all the vitamin D you need from pepperoni pizza.

"(My) cat was stuck inside the dashboard of (my) car."

Believable. The exact same thing happened to your parrot last week.

While these excuses are excellent, I'm sure you can come up with something even more creative for avoiding work. You'll just have to work at it.

In the meantime, please pass the jellied moose nose.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at [email protected] To find out more about Bob Goldman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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