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9 outrageous excuses for being late to work

Getting to work on time can be challenging, especially if you hit the snooze button one too many times or you can't peel yourself away from the morning talk shows.

But those excuses don't exactly sit well with bosses, which is why workers are getting creative in their cover stories. Step aside, "I lost my keys." Now, "there was a stranger sleeping in my car" or "I knocked myself out in the shower" seems to suffice.

These excuses were among several examples given by bosses and human resource managers in a new survey from CareerBuilder. The company also polled workers about their tardiness, and some 14 percent freely admitted that they arrive late to work on a weekly basis. About 23 percent said it happens once a month.

This is the kind of behavior that can kill a job, by the way. About 41 percent of employers said they have fired a worker for being late. One out of three bosses were more tolerant, saying the occasional tardy arrival is fine as long as the worker doesn't make a habit of it. And 16 percent say it doesn't matter what time workers arrive as long as they get their work done.

When employees are late, about half of them generally fall back on the tried-and-true excuse of bad traffic. Nearly a third blame a lack of sleep, and a quarter cite bad weather. About 12 percent say they had to get their kids to school or day care, 7 percent blame public transportation delays and 6 percent cite wardrobe issues.

Bosses have come to expect all of those. But there are other excuses that simply cross over into the bizarre. When asked in the survey about the most outrageous excuses they've heard for a late arrival, managers offered these:

  • I knocked myself out in the shower.
  • I was drunk and forgot which Waffle House I parked my car next to.
  • I discovered my spouse was having an affair, so I followed him this morning to find out who he was having an affair with.
  • Someone robbed the gas station I was at, and I didn't have enough gas to get to another station.
  • I had to wait for the judge to set my bail.
  • There was a stranger sleeping in my car.
  • A deer herd that was moving through town made me late.
  • I'm not late. I was thinking about work on the way in.
  • I dreamed that I got fired.

The beauty of some of these excuses is that they're so mind-bogglingly strange that bosses may not know how to react. They probably won't ask for proof, either. But just in case, one employee backed up a tardy excuse with photographic evidence. "I went out to my car to drive to work, and the trunk had been stolen out of it," said one worker, offering this picture as proof.

What's the best way to handle showing up late for work? Workplace experts suggest honesty combined with an apology for impacting others, according to career site And here's the best advice of all: Don't make a habit out of being late, because at some point your boss may take some action.