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February 12, 2008 7:23 AM   Subscribe

Though recent research indicates we learn to lie at a young age, and lie more often as we grow older, apparently we aren't so great at coming up with excuses for missing work. One site, designed to help with this problem, offers "proof" that you needed time off. Phoney Excuses claims that over a quarter of a million people have visited their site. The site warns its forms are intended "for entertainment purposes only." (Warning: NSFW-- last link is obnoxiously loud).
posted by misha (27 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Sorry I missed work, but I got arrested for DUI on my commute in.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 7:31 AM on February 12, 2008

Mostly fax-lore quality, but this one rules: I didn’t think I had to come in if I had time in my vacation bank. I thought I could take it whenever I wanted.

Just imagine the audacity of that employee! "I had vacation time saved up." Classic!
posted by DU at 7:34 AM on February 12, 2008

Hahah, what's the deal with the 'evil looking' kid photos in that article.
posted by delmoi at 7:36 AM on February 12, 2008

Hahah, what's the deal with the 'evil looking' kid photos in that article.

All children are evil and their souls need the Healin' Powers of Jaysus.
posted by crunch buttsteak at 7:45 AM on February 12, 2008

No we don't.
posted by thewalrusispaul at 7:47 AM on February 12, 2008

The trick is to call in sick when you're suffering from a massive hangover, because that way you're not lying.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:47 AM on February 12, 2008

The Card Cheat: But then I'd never get to work.
posted by absalom at 7:54 AM on February 12, 2008

Best excuse I ever had,(and true), my ceiling fan was on fire!
posted by Yer-Ol-Pal at 8:08 AM on February 12, 2008

I need a site that gives me an excuse for posting before I've read the FPP. I'm crap at thinking up excuses for that.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:10 AM on February 12, 2008

I lie less as an adult. But better.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:27 AM on February 12, 2008

"But now there’s a singular theory for one way this habit develops: They are just copying their parents."

Groundbreaking research.
posted by monospace at 8:35 AM on February 12, 2008

How can any of us think about work when there’s a baby Polar bear having a Nightmare Sex dream with Britney?

/I know what all those words mean. Yet I’m puzzled when they’re placed in that order.
posted by HVAC Guerilla at 8:36 AM on February 12, 2008

Best excuse evar: Explosive diarreah IN THE SHOWER.

don't believe me? want pics??
posted by LordSludge at 8:45 AM on February 12, 2008

Best excuse I ever had, (and true)

Dear Boss,

I'm sorry that I'm unable to make it into work today. My penis has been suffering from severe trauma due to repeated manhandling, and now needs intensive oral therapy to prevent erectile dysfunction. Fortunately, the nurse that I met last night down at the Syringe and Zimmer Frame performed emergency triage in the pub car park and on subsequently determining that I'm a priority case, has kindly offered to move me immediately to the top of the waiting list.

I look forward to returning to work as a healthier and more productive employee.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:55 AM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

I once called in late because a fish-tank caught on fire.

No one believed me till I showed them the photos of the charred stand.

I mean, how was I supposed to know that seahorses were serial arsonists?
posted by quin at 8:57 AM on February 12, 2008

That first link is great, and this post is a classic example of more = less. If you'd just posted the first link, it might have led to a good discussion. You could have posted the work excuses next day and everyone could have had the yucks anyway. Ah well, for anyone who might be interested, here's a sample:
Seventy-six percent of kids Nick’s age take the chance to peek during the game, and when asked if they peeked, 95 percent lie about it.

But sometimes the researcher will read the child a short storybook before she asks about the peeking. One story read aloud is The Boy Who Cried Wolf—the version in which both the boy and the sheep get eaten because of his repeated lies. Alternatively, they read George Washington and the Cherry Tree, in which young George confesses to his father that he chopped down the prized tree with his new hatchet. The story ends with his father’s reply: “George, I’m glad that you cut down the tree after all. Hearing you tell the truth instead of a lie is better than if I had a thousand cherry trees.”

Now, which story do you think reduced lying more? When we surveyed 1,300 people, 75 percent thought The Boy Who Cried Wolf would work better. However, this famous fable actually did not cut down lying at all in Talwar’s experiments. In fact, after hearing the story, kids lied even a little more than normal. Meanwhile, hearing George Washington and the Cherry Tree—even when Washington was replaced with a nondescript character, eliminating the potential that his iconic celebrity might influence older kids—reduced lying a sizable 43 percent in kids. Although most kids lied in the control situation, the majority hearing George Washington told the truth.
Anyone who is a parent or thinks they might become one should read the whole thing.
posted by languagehat at 9:05 AM on February 12, 2008 [3 favorites]

Unfortunately my boss still nags me even with legitimate excuses, with back-up documentation. My wife has surgery? "You need to have a talk with your wife, 'cause this is just unacceptable." Wha?

I once managed a guy who was constantly an hour or more late, and eventually he wouldn't show up at all. It was somewhat shocking as he never bothered with an excuse. Near the end of this fiasco, he tells me (paraphrasing): "At the other places I've worked, I never had to come in everyday or show up at a set time." Again, wha?
posted by Brocktoon at 9:16 AM on February 12, 2008

I've called in sick when I wasn't exactly once in my life. I used my cell phone (so the caller id would not show the out of state number) and just used the good old "I'm not feeling well today." Since I had previously come in to work on a day that I was too ill to come in under my own power (seriously... I made someone come pick me up and drive me in), I had a certain amount of credit there. My primary concern was that, having previously seen what I considered "still well enough to come in", they'd send someone to my apartment to make sure I didn't need a hospital. I hated that job.

My current boss has told me how much he appreciates that I tell him when I'm coming down with something. Most of the time, it's a false alarm, but when I really am sick, it means I'm not out without warning. (I no longer attempt to drag myself in to work half-dead these days.)
posted by Karmakaze at 9:20 AM on February 12, 2008

That first link is incredibly interesting.
posted by gaspode at 9:41 AM on February 12, 2008

I don't know about you, but I'm awesome at coming up with excuses for missing work. I'm so good, I charge my bosses to hear them, in case they then turn around and want to use them.
posted by Eideteker at 10:30 AM on February 12, 2008

That first link is a great article, so thought-provoking. This part really got me, about how teenagers perceive fighting with their parents, and how it affects honesty/lying:
The average Pennsylvania teen was 244 percent more likely to lie than to protest a rule. In the families where there was less deception, however, there was a much higher ratio of arguing and complaining. The argument enabled the child to speak honestly. Certain types of fighting, despite the acrimony, were ultimately signs of respect—not of disrespect.

But most parents don’t make this distinction in how they perceive arguments with their children. Dr. Tabitha Holmes of SUNY–New Paltz conducted extensive interviews asking mothers and adolescents, separately, to describe their arguments and how they felt about them. And there was a big difference.

Forty-six percent of the mothers rated their arguments as being destructive to their relationships with their teens. Being challenged was stressful, chaotic, and (in their perception) disrespectful. The more frequently they fought, and the more intense the fights were, the more the mother rated the fighting as harmful. But only 23 percent of the adolescents felt that their arguments were destructive. Far more believed that fighting strengthened their relationship with their mothers. “Their perception of the fighting was really sophisticated, far more than we anticipated for teenagers,” notes Holmes. “They saw fighting as a way to see their parents in a new way, as a result of hearing their mother’s point of view be articulated.”

What most surprised Holmes was learning that for the teens, fighting often, or having big fights, did not cause them to rate the fighting as harmful and destructive. Statistically, it made no difference at all. Certainly, there is a point in families where there is too much conflict, Holmes notes. “But we didn’t have anybody in our study with an extreme amount of conflict.” Instead, the variable that seemed to really matter was how the arguments were resolved.
posted by Melinika at 10:50 AM on February 12, 2008

I wonder - if they bring Nick back, a few months later, or a few years later, and ask him about the soccer ball, will he new believe his lie? The process by which people come to sincerely believe their own lies would also be interesting to look into. It raises an interesting philosophical point, if the thing lied about is under one's own control, eg "I don't lose my temper" and over time can become true. I think affirmations, and to some extent prayers ("Lord grant me the serenity ...") are in this category; not a "white lie", a "whitening lie".
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:41 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

wow, i thought that lying article was beyond obvious and dull. the stuff on teens and fighting was interesting-- but other than that, um, is it really news that parents teach kids to lie?

and is it avoidable? not unless you want your child to be a miserable, friendless, partnerless dork.

most of the research other than the teen stuff in there seemed like it should have been published in the journal Duh!
posted by Maias at 4:41 PM on February 12, 2008

and what's up with the redhead-hating? two of the kids used as illustrations were redhaired, as if being a redhead prediposes to lying.
posted by Maias at 4:42 PM on February 12, 2008

Title says kids and I'm thinking the single digit set, who lie all the time if need be, and I'm wondering how much younger can you get for this to be a revelation? Then I start the article and they're talking teenagers?

Sorry, I have movietone reels to watch.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:41 PM on February 12, 2008

"Using gift certificates for free CDs as bait, ____________ persuaded high-school students to spend a few hours with them in the local pizzeria."

Now YOU write the rest of the article!
posted by Navelgazer at 6:01 PM on February 12, 2008

That was a totally fascinating article, especially the part about the dogs.
What? I read the link. Honest Injun.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:20 AM on February 13, 2008

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