At the Stroke of Six…

Insomniacs and other sleep-deprived people know that the ideal length of any nap is five minutes more. But it takes chutzpah to meet the boss in the lift and answer “Yeah, me too!” when he rolls his eyes at you and exclaims “Late again!”

Conscientious research amongst my trusty group of friends elicits the information that the most likely reasons for being late are not the same as the excuses one gives at the workplace. Depending upon the dynamics at your workplace, either, or both, may include: A friend called with some salacious gossip to which you couldn’t resist listening; An aunt came over (all the way from Australia) and you had to make her a macchiato; The cat you thought was a Tom had kittens – and so did you;

The facecloth got caught in the sink overflow and the house flooded; The neighbours on either side were having a name-calling session and you were busy taking notes just in case you were called to the witness stand; The washing machine seized because you put instant mashed potato powder instead of soap flakes, and you had to do the wash over again;

There wasn’t any coffee in the percolator so there was no smell to wake you up; You forgot to put in your dentures and you had to go back for them;

You got caught up in the latest Terry Pratchett book and you didn’t even hear the alarm clock; You were trying to find a suitable excuse for being late from wotsername’s blog in

But of course we don’t miss work just because we want a lie in. Memories of playing truant from school could make you forget all thoughts of production bonuses or visiting dignitaries from South Korea…especially of the weather is perfect for going fishing – or for hanging out the curtains to drip-dry on the roof.

Even if you are the CEO of a company, people might tend to look askance at you if you saunter into the office five minutes late. No one will know that you’ve already dictated ten letters and taken fifty calls – and nobody will care.

If, hand on heart, you are considering this lateness as self-awarded “time off in lieu” rest assured that everyone else will translate it as your being AWOL. Unless you make flexitime available to everyone else. But if anyone who tries to negotiate a similar bargain with you gets stonewalled because they are way down in the pecking order – you only have yourself to blame when they do the sulks. In any case, it pays to be creative when it comes to finding reasons, rather than excuses, to be late for work. In any case, playing hooky is not cricket. If you want to be justifiably late, you can always have business breakfasts (or gym sessions, or any other bonding activity) with clients.

Be warned: this won’t work if you are a clerk in a government department. And did I say you have to actually meet the client? If not, he might just turn up at the office looking for you, when you are supposed to be together. Wars have been fought over less.

How long is it since you’ve donated blood? It is tacitly understood that altruistic people (i.e. blood donors) get the rest of the morning off – in some places. The rest of us are perfectly entitled to arrive feasibly late, looking pale and wan, and asking for a strong coffee.

Overworked dentists and doctors might be able to give you first refusal rights in their morning clinics. But you will only know of this when their clerk calls you and asks whether you are available in fifteen minutes’ time; within which you can call your workplace and arrange for leave of absence. Here you have to balance the dubious pleasure of listening to the dentist’s drill against the darg.

If the company allows teleworking, you can steer free of the morning rush, and (really) do some work. Then, simply turn up at the office fashionably late. Two parents and four grandparents do not translate into 20 funerals. Arriving at your workplace with freshly-styled hair smelling of mousse, or patently just-manicured fingers, loaded with bags of shopping, or the face of the cat who stole the cream will lose you Brownie points with the boss – and might make your co-workers despise you.


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