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10 best excuses for coming to work late

  • Story Highlights
  • Survey: Fifteen percent of workers admit to arriving late at least once a week
  • Thirty-two percent of workers attribute their late arrivals to traffic gridlock
  • One in four employees make up fake excuse rather than reveal why they're late
  • Habitual tardiness to work could be damaging to your work relationship
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By Rosemary Haefner
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Some people wake up each morning before the alarm rings, glad to see the glowing sun and excited to start the day.

They arrive to work whistling and are hard at work before most people even arrive. These rare creatures, also known as "morning people," are incomprehensible to those of you whose morning routines are exercises in panic and frustration.

A lot more people belong in that latter group than you might have guessed. Fifteen percent of workers admit to arriving late at least once a week, according to a recent survey.

Why are so many of us running late?

You might be surprised that the snooze button is not the primary culprit of tardiness.

Thirty-two percent of workers attribute their late arrivals to traffic gridlock. Seventeen percent claim a lack of sleep is the reason, and 7 percent have trouble arriving on time because they need to get their children ready for school or day care.

Other issues, like forgetting something at home or not feeling well, are also popular.

Fortunately for late arrivers, 43 percent of hiring managers won't count tardiness against you as long as you meet deadlines and turn in good work.

Of course, some managers feel differently and will hand you a pink slip if you're late several times within a year.

Use your imagination

More than 27 percent of hiring managers say they are skeptical of employees' excuses for showing up late. It turns out their doubt is warranted: 24 percent of all employees decide to make up a fake excuse rather than tell the truth.

What does this mean to you?

If you're sitting in a traffic jam watching the minutes tick away and you've decided honesty isn't the best policy for you, think of a believable and acceptable reason you're walking in late.

After all, if you were a hiring manager who heard any of these 10 real-life excuses for being late, you'd be suspicious, too.

1. While rowing across the river to work, I got lost in the fog.

2. Someone stole all my daffodils.

3. I had to go audition for American Idol.

4. My ex-husband stole my car so I couldn't drive to work.

5. My route to work was shut down by a Presidential motorcade.

6. I have transient amnesia and couldn't remember my job.

7. I was indicted for securities fraud this morning.

8. The line was too long at Starbucks.

9. I was trying to get my gun back from the police.

10. I didn't have money for gas because all of the pawn shops were closed.

Be a crowd-pleaser

When it comes to punctuality, your best bet is to take cues from your company's culture. If everyone is diligently working when you drag yourself through the door each morning, then you probably stand out.

However, if everyone filters in at their own pace between 8:45 and 9:15, then an occasional late arrival will probably go unnoticed.

Habitual lateness, on the other hand, will help neither your career prospects nor your workplace relationships. For one thing, your boss and co-workers are relying on you to be at work when you're scheduled to arrive; you don't want to disappoint them.

Also, just because nobody confronts you about your tardiness, that doesn't mean no one's watching the clock and forming an opinion about you or your work ethic.

These judgments can damage you when it comes to performance reviews and promotions. Don't let a few extra minutes of sleep cost you your reputation -- or worse, your job.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority

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