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3 Best Excuses to Get Out of Work

The paychecks are nice, but let’s face it — actually going to work can be a real drag. While you’re not really required to explain why you took time off, you’ve still got to think of your reputation. This means you’re going to need a believable excuse — and of course, some acting skills.

1. Engage the Embarrassment Factor

Few employers want to get into discussions with their employees about personal or embarrassing stuff. Not only is it uncomfortable for them, but there are potential liabilities (harassment lawsuit?) if they ask too many probing questions.
Tell your boss that you have a doctor’s appointment. Say that you have a medical exam. Don’t be specific. Instead, hint about a “sorta big problem” and say that you’re really nervous about the results. You’re not explicitly stating that you picked up a bug during an irresponsible Tinder hookup, but, if your boss jumps to that conclusion, it’s all on them.

Digestive issues are another thing that no one wants to hear about. How this can be stated depends on the boundaries of discomfort you’re willing to explore. It can be as subtle as “I dunno what I ate last night, but … uh … I just can’t make it in.” Or, if you’re known for stating your mind, it can be quite brazen: “Yeah, unless you’re willing to shove my cubicle into the bathroom, I don’t think I’ll be able to work today.”

If you’re a woman, don’t be afraid to use the tried-and-true “time of the month” excuse. If you have a male boss, he just won’t want to think about this kind of thing. If your supervisor is a woman, tread carefully — while she’s more likely to sympathize with your situation, she’ll also keep much better track of the timing. “Hmm, didn’t you have cramps two weeks ago?”

2. Play the Privacy Card

There are some things that you don’t want to discuss, and others that you can’t discuss. Some of the latter include legal stuff. Tell your boss that you have an appointment with a lawyer to discuss some issues that you’re facing. Depending on the subject, it may actually be illegal for your boss to ask for more information. Plus, they’ll think that you have a lawyer.

Using family members is another way to shut down interrogations. Tell your boss that your insane cousin has gotten herself into trouble again and that you need to bail her out (either in a literal or figurative sense). The vaguer, the better!

Kids or younger siblings offer an endless fountain of excuses. And who would be heartless enough to question something involving a child? Bullying, trips to the nurse’s office, a punishment for throwing the teacher’s keys into the class fish tank — every scenario you can imagine is at your command.


3. Concoct a Good Crisis

When life happens, sometimes you have to stop everything and deal with it. This is the case when, for example, your pipes back up and the toilet overflows and forms a murky lagoon that’s slowly creeping toward your kitchen. If you still live with your parents, don’t worry — tell your boss that your parents are too busy (and well-paid, compared to your measly wages) to stay and wait for the plumber and that they left you responsible for the cleanup.

Car trouble is a frequently used excuse, but you need to exercise caution with this one. If you drive a Toyota that’s only two years old, your boss won’t believe you. Also, if you cry “breakdown,” someone may helpfully offer you a ride to work. Flat tires are a tempting excuse to use, but do you really want to be known as someone who can’t change a tire?

You might be tempted say that you got into a car accident, but a genuine collision tends to leave your car damaged. If you drive a beater, you can add an extra dent to get the day off — but for most people, it’s not worth it. Instead, swap cars with a fellow slacker so that, the next day, your boss will see you pull up in your “borrowed” car as yours is getting “fixed.”

Getting out of work is a life skill that really should be taught in school. Fortunately, there are ways to practice the ancient art of excuse-making. That Moment When, Eko’s series of interactive films, is boot camp for the modern goldbrick. You get to steer that awkward conversation when you run into your boss while you’re supposedly out sick — leading to either glorious freedom or the freedom of joblessness.

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