The World’s Best Excuse for Being Late


So years ago, in another life, I worked retail at an antique shop in SoHo. This was many years ago, before living in Japan shook all the tardiness out of me; when I habitually strolled into workplaces and classrooms and restaurants 10-15 minutes late: The train, the bus. Grand Central was crazy. I couldn’t get across town! Never, Sorry – I was cocking around on AOL and Friendster. But I digress.

One time I actually had a really good excuse for being late to work. Sure, I was already running a few minutes late but, back then, my 19 year-old legs were up to running from Chinatown to SoHo and I’d have made it, too (!!!) … if the elevator of my dorm building hadn’t gotten stuck between the 12th and 11th floor. It took the dorm’s handyman at least half an hour to free me from the clutches of the death trap, and I finally made it to work, flushed and wheezing – The elevator got stuck! I was trapped! I couldn’t get out! – only to meet my boss’s cool gaze. Really, she said. Stuck in an elevator. I see. And a couple of weeks later, when she fired me: You just don’t know what you’re doing. You’re clueless. Get out of my store. And don’t get “stuck” in the elevator this time.

But I did get stuck in the elevator. Honest! Try telling that to a middle-aged control freak who’s practically hurling Victorian hat pins and 1950s Head Vases at your head. But I digress… again.

Yesterday, to kick off Carnevale, Flora, Katarina and I made plans to head to Pontecorvo for their annual Carnevale Parade. Instructions were to meet Flora at her house, where we’d all go together in her car. I usually pick up Katarina, who lives high up on a mountain between my apartment and Flora’s house. And I tell you, thanks to Japan – thanks to being forced to write apology letters to my boss if I was even one (ONE!) minute late to punch in, thanks to missing trains if I was ten seconds behind schedule – I’m never late anymore. The same can’t be said for Katarina, who runs on Hungarian time and called Flora from the passenger seat of my car: We’re coming, we’re coming! Look, there’s no reason to get so dicked off; you’re always late, too! We’re on our way!

And then, just as we were rounding the corner to Flora’s house… it happened. The best excuse ever for being late. This time, I got proof:

Because some things sound silly even when they’re coming out of your own mouth.

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16 Comments Add yours

  1. Katja says:

    You know now that you’re back in Italy you can be late again, right? In fact, according to my (English) friend’s (Italian) boyfriend, *she’s* the one who’s rude for being on time. But, Livvy, you know I will not be ready, so it is *you* who is bad-mannered for making me have to rush. Sรฌ!

    1. ieatmypigeon says:

      I’ve heard people say things like that before but I don’t know what to tell them… you can take the girl out of Japan but you can’t take the Japanese terror of being late out of the girl…. to tell you the truth, I kind of *like* being there before everyone else. Makes me feel… accomplished ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Jodi says:

    An almost identical thing happened to me, and I vowed to have some sort of media with me (phone, camera, empty can + string) next time so that I could prove that I wasn’t lying. Excellent move with the video this time around – and a valid excuse at that ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. ieatmypigeon says:

      If only video digicams had existed back in 2000… GOAT STAMPEDE!

  3. Margaret says:

    I love it! The same thing once happened to me with cows! Of course, the getting stuck in the elevator story DOES tend to sound more plausible (although, come to think of it, THAT’s happened to me too and got the same “yeah, right” reaction.)
    Also love Katja’s story of why it’s rude to be on time!

    1. ieatmypigeon says:

      Another boss once asked me if I was late because I got stuck in a subway tunnel. That time my only (real) excuse was that I’d overslept.

      1. Pridesing says:

        I was late a lot too for a reception job. Thing is it was traffic all the time. So I lived 45 min driving distance. So then I started leaving an hr early. Sometimes I was early by 15 minutes, and sometimes just on time. Then I moved 5 minutes from the same job & was 2 min late everyday. One time a choo-choo train came on this one road I took to work. That Never happened. My 2 minutes became 15 min late. MAN I had to apologize for real that day & was not late after that because she did not believe me.

  4. Paul says:

    I was late in Japan twice. Once because I overslept, which was terrible. I had to write the apology letter as well. The other time was because someone jumped in front of a train (so the fellow passengers gleaned from the cryptic profusely apologetic announcement).

    Those goats do have lovely horns, though.

    1. ieatmypigeon says:

      The trains are so very rarely late – usually only in cases such as you described – that the train stations give out little tickets to show your boss on the occasion this does happen. That’s the only time you can get a “pass” for being late. Sigh… Japan.

      1. Pridesing says:

        WOW an apology letter- For real? So un-American haha. We are so rude!

  5. Pridesing says:

    Great post Liv. You know I forgot all about that job. “Stuck in an elevator” that is a great one and its too bad when sh*^ really happens & NO one believes. But you got proff and DAMN that is too much! I can’t pull that off here though. lol Witty and good flow.

  6. Kim says:

    In the past I owned a distribution business, and you had to deliver WalMart, KMart, etc within certain hours. The shelves were empty and they needed product. Believe it or not, a huge mean looking black dog said outside the warehouse door and would not move. I couldn’t get in to get the product. Manager said he’d heard it all, but couldn’t be making that one up. It worked and he let me in. Thanks for this fun post.

  7. Nick says:

    Ha, love it! But I don’t think you could ever get away with, “sorry I’m late – I was cocking around on Friendster” – no-one would believe you ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Oh, and advance warning for when we DO eventually meet – I am pretty much always late. Egypt time, ya know?

    1. ieatmypigeon says:

      You’ve been warned, Nick.

  8. Erica says:

    I would definitely consider that a good excuse. I never thought about recording the reason you’re late! ๐Ÿ˜›

    1. ieatmypigeon says:

      There was no way I was getting doubted this time! This little boy DID see a wolf!

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