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Zebra on the highway and other excuses for being late to work

Thursday - 2/20/2014, 1:06pm  ET

alarm clock (Thinkstock)
Not getting enough sleep is one of the most common excuses for being late to work. (Thinkstock)

Other excuses people give for being late

WTOP's Kristi King reports.

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WASHINGTON -- Kids are known for their creative excuses for not doing their homework. But they're not alone. Adults have a host of memorable excuses for why they're late to work.

Here are some of the more memorable ones human resource managers passed along to CareerBuilder in an annual online survey:

  1. A zebra running down the highway held up traffic. Yes, it was true.

  2. I woke up on the front lawn of a house two blocks away from my home.

  3. My cat got stuck in the toilet.

  4. I had to go to the store to get milk for breakfast cereal before getting ready for work.

  5. I was late because I fell asleep in the car when I got to work.

  6. I accidentally put superglue -- rather than contact lens solution -- in my eye, and had to go to the emergency room

  7. Isn't Halloween a work holiday?

  8. I had a hole in my roof and the rain fell on the alarm clock and it didn't go off.

  9. I really had to see the end of a TV show.

  10. I forgot the company changed locations.

  11. I got a hairbrush stuck in my hair.

  12. A nightmare scared me.

Twenty three percent of workers surveyed said they're late once a month, while 15 percent said they're late once a week.

The most common excuse is one very common around Washington: traffic. Thirty-nine percent of workers cited that as their reason for being late, followed by lack of sleep (19 percent) and public transportation problems (8 percent). Other common excuses included bad weather (7 percent) and dropping the kids off at daycare or school (6 percent).

"Most employers understand that occasionally things pop up and cause employees to be behind schedule. The trouble comes when tardiness becomes a habit," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of Human Resources at CareerBuilder, in a news release.

To avoid making lateness a habit, she recommends checking the forecast, getting alerts on traffic and public transportation and preparing for work the night before.

A little bit of organization can help employees keep jobs.

The survey finds 35 percent of employers have fired someone for being late to work.

CareerBuilder says 2,201 human resource professionals and 3,008 employees participated in the online survey, which was conducted by Harris Poll between Nov. 6, 2013 and Dec. 2, 2013. The survey has a margin of error of 2.09 percent with hiring managers and 1.79 percent with employees.

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