When students are late, they have some colorful reasons for their tardiness. But sometimes, those silly little excuses are actually the truth. These people were just as surprised as you’re sure to be.
One time, this organ student of mine told me that he was late arriving for his lesson. The reason was because he got stuck behind a lengthy funeral procession en route to the cemetery. I knew he was telling the truth because I had played the organ for the service earlier that morning and the church was packed.
We went to a Catholic school and the teachers were all quite strict and intimidating. Classes were usually silent, especially in junior school. When this boy came into class at the end of the lesson that day, the door flew inwards with such force that the teacher gave an audible gasp. It had been raining heavily outside, his hair was plastered to his forehead. His blazer was dripping and sodden. He had mud caked into his trousers up to his knees, and he was breathing heavily.
At that point, our teacher exclaimed, “Brendan! What happened?” We all stared up at him in shocked silence. This quiet, unassuming little boy then let out a giant sigh and just said, “I took a shortcut.” He then walked straight to his seat. That kid’s line definitely became iconic in our school for years afterwards.
This was in college and a student turned in work late after not showing up for two classes. Two classes amounted to a full week, so it was noticeable. Our professor looked at him and said, "I hope somebody passed for you to be this late." He then went, “Does my dad count?!” Honestly, I've always heard you can hear a pin drop and never really thought anything of it, but yeah you could hear a pin cut through the air after that.
A kid missed my first-period class one morning, but was in school later that day. When I asked him why he hadn't arrived in time for my course, he said his cow was birthing its calf that morning, so he'd picked being in the barn over English. It made sense to me. His essays weren't going to win any ribbons at the county fair, but his calf could.
We had an exam in my class and the teacher got a message from a student saying that he was going to be late because his car had a flat tire (the student was known to party). The teacher didn't think it could be true, so as a joke the teacher asked him to bring the tire back. He brought the flat tire back in the middle of the exam. Needless to say, the professor didn't expect that.
When I was in college, my professor told us that the only excuse for being late was a funeral procession. Any other reason, you wouldn't be allowed to come in. A few weeks into the semester, I was headed from one building to another, which involved crossing the main road. Lo and behold, there was one very long funeral procession going by. I got a short video of it as proof, then stood on the sidewalk to let it go by. Unfortunately, the procession made me five minutes late to class. I knocked on the door, and the professor came over to tell me off. I showed her the video. "Well I'll be, c'mon in."
“MTV paid me $50 to fill my backpack with cement and carry it around for the day.” I accepted that excuse. My student later regretted it, as a replacement backpack and college textbooks far exceeded $50. But he got his moment of fame and I didn’t penalize him for his tardiness. I mean, you have to live a little.
She had to take her sister to school and drive her mom to rehab. She was always late to class because her mom just wanted to sleep in. Problem was, if the mom was late or didn’t go, she would have contravened her probation and got locked up. I never marked her late. If she missed anything important, she could come in at lunch or after school to make it up.
My best friend and I used to roller skate to school and one day we both forgot to put our shoes in our backpacks. So, we skated to the vice principal’s office and got to skip the first period to go home for shoes. We stopped at Taco Bell on the way back for breakfast because we figured we were already excused.
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I was the student and my neighbor had a really social goat. She figured out how to escape her pen in order to come over and hang out. She escaped and followed me to the bus stop, and when the bus came, she tried to follow me onto it. I couldn't actually get on the bus without her being right behind me, so I had to get off, bring her home, and call my dad to bring me to school.
I was one of about 20 kids who were late to school. We showed up at the school office as a group and when questioned why we were late, we said, "The school bus blew up.” They questioned, "So, the engine blew up?" The kids said, "No, the whole bus, in flames. It blew up." There was much conference between the teachers, all of them thinking we embellished the story. Next thing you know, one of the admin staff has the news website open with a very obvious image of an entire bus on fire and a bunch of kids in our school uniform standing in front of it. Our late slip for class read: "School bus blew up.”
This literally happened today. A child missed my first hour class and her note said, “Car accident on the way to school and would be coming late.” The kid then came for the second hour and had pictures on his phone of the rollover accident! Come on, kid, go home. Rest. Take care of yourself. I won’t penalize you.
I once had a student of mine tell me, "My car got hit by lightning." As it turns out, that did indeed happen to her in the school parking lot. Her tires were actually melted to the pavement. She had to go out and deal with the tow truck, make a call to her parents, the whole shebang. The whole thing was pretty dramatic.
I was the student. When I was in college, I opened my front door to see S.W.A.T. teams and DEA agents outside of my house. The one who looked at me was holding some kind of AR. I went back inside. From what I heard, there was a multiple-sting operation that happened around my town and my neighbors' place got raided. I missed half of my classes that day.
When I was student teaching, I was late because there were a bunch of chickens in the middle of the road. They wouldn't move at all. This was in the middle of a city of 200,000 people. Freaking chickens. I finally got to school and profusely apologized to my mentor teacher. I told her why I was late, thinking it sounded ridiculous. She said, "Yeah, those chickens are little demons. They surrounded my car in the McDonalds parking lot last year. Don't worry about it."
"I'm pink." A fair-skinned student (age 10) went with a friend to the Holi festival at a nearby Hindu temple where she was covered with red powder and dyed bright red from head to toe. Her mother, another teacher at the school, had made her sit for hours in the bathtub to soak it off, but even after another round of early morning shower scrubbing, she arrived at school a pleasant shade of pink. (Technically, she wasn't late, but she stayed in her mother's classroom until the bell rang.)
A student told me he couldn’t do the work because he was delivering oil from 3:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m…. in middle school. He wasn’t lying. His dad had broken both of his shoulders and one clavicle so his grandma and pregnant mom were “switching off driving.” He was hooking the tanks to the oil. I called all his teachers and had his work load lightened and got permission for him to come in an hour late each day as he was providing the only income for his family of eight, as he was the oldest. I tutored him so he could pass seventh grade. I paid the cost of oil only for years until I moved out of the area.
In high school, I biked to class. One day I hit a rock and totally wiped out. I obviously got to class late. Before I could say a word, my teacher stopped the class and said, “Thank you for finally joining us, why are you so late?” I raised my heavily wounded hands and elbows. It must’ve looked bad because she audibly gasped and rushed me to the school nurse, apologizing nonstop the entire way.
I was the student in this situation. There was once a flock of wild turkeys in the road. Not always school, but this happened more than once in my life. For those of you who have never found yourselves in this situation: there is no way out of it. Wild turkeys will move when they pretty much decide to do so, and only then.
I had a chemistry professor show up about 15 minutes late to class one day. Just when people were about to start leaving, he showed up and explained that he was just in a car accident. Evidently, his car had been in a roll over and he still showed up! He reassured all of us that he was okay. He drove a Volvo.
I'm an admin at a music school. I had a mom frantically call me and let me know her daughter would probably be late or miss their guitar lesson in a couple of hours because she couldn't find the kid. I was just like, "Uh, okay. Well, I will let her teacher know.” I got another call about an hour later from the same mom.
She found her kid, but apparently the daughter went to a friend's house and decided to dye her hair green. They lived pretty closeby, so I did let them know they could still come in for their lesson. The mom said she would call me back and let me know in a minute or two… never called back. Her daughter showed up for her lesson about five minutes late with this bright green coiffure. I admit it looked rad, but also kind of a confusing thing to be an audience to the buildup.
I had a student whose father passed. He didn’t do any homework or prep for the geography class. From what I heard, the teacher scolded him for not doing so, but the student didn’t want to say anything (presumably sensitive issue), so his best friend shouted at the teacher, “Don’t you have any shame?! His father passed last night.” The teacher said, “I don’t care.” There was an audible gasp and I was in the next room. Needless to say, that teacher is no longer employed here.
I'm not the teacher, but we were told that a paramedic student, who on their way to write their final exam, rolled their car into a creek. They picked up whatever books they had out of their car and ran the rest of the way to class. Obviously, they got there late and in tears. You better believe they had a different exam date.
I taught in a rough inner-city school. My student came in at 10:30. I was like, “Dude, where were you?” They said their bus was late and I asked, “Why would your bus be three hours late?” My student told me that there was an incident. I asked if they were okay and if someone tried to go after the bus. “No ma’am, a kid discharged his piece out of the bus. We got pulled over. The officers had to search everyone. The kid was literally the last kid to be searched.”
My best friend at the time was doing a carer's job in preparation to later do nursing. He lived a train ride away at the time but it was okay because work was five minutes from the station. Someone jumped in front of his train as it was approaching the station. Everyone was stuck on the train whilst it was established if the person could be saved. Hours later, he got into work a little cheesed off but apologized. He then promptly found out it was one of the patients who had made him late for work.
My auto teacher let me practice removing and adding the tires on his vehicle. The next morning it was about 20 minutes into the first period and there was no sign of him. He came running into the classroom out of breath and his hair was all messed up. He pointed at me and said, “You! What is a torque wrench used for?!” I responded with, "I don't know." He then said, "I know you don’t know!" Turns out, one of his tires came off while driving down the highway.
I’m a teacher, but this happened when I was a student. In high school, a kid came late to history class. He was a joker so when someone asked him where he had been, he went, “I was kidnapped.” Everyone laughed, until he went “No, really.” Turns out, two guys kidnapped him and tossed him into the back of the minivan he was using for his morning paper route. They drove him around while they robbed something. I can’t remember what happened after. I think they just drove the van somewhere and got away.
When I was in high school, our apartment was broken into. Thankfully nobody was home, but all of our electronics were taken. My computer was also taken, which was connected to the same outlet as my alarm clock. I reset the time and went to bed not realizing I needed to reset the alarm too. I showed up to my SAT prep about two hours late and explained to the teacher what happened. She met with me during the week to go over materials. She was a rockstar.
A kid came into class a little beat up and almost an hour late. He accidentally drove off a cliff while texting and his phone was broken, so he walked to the closest place where he could get some help. He was sent to the hospital almost immediately, and he was okay except for a concussion and some minor bruising.
I'm an English professor, and one year a pretty good student showed up without one of his two major term papers. He explained that his safe had been taken by a contractor who was working on their house. His laptop was in the safe, and that's where his paper was. I genuinely believe him because he was a really good student.
Then over the next few weeks, he started to show up to class looking very tired. He said that he was on a hunt for the person who took his safe, and he was spending late nights with his cousin driving around looking for the guy because they knew his van. Now, the student and his cousin were both recently back from tours in Iraq and had seen combat experience.
Essentially, these guys wanted to find the guy, get him, and get the safe back because his wife's wedding ring was in there, as well as a bunch of his cash. He rewrote the paper and turned it in, apologetic that it wasn't up to his usual quality, but he still kept coming to class looking like he hadn't slept.
After a little while, he came very happily to my office hours and reported that he found the guy after a long search that involved breaking into a den, shaking people down with baseball bats and even bribing some ladies of the night. He said that they found the guy's van at a Taco Bell after getting a tip from a lady, and they cornered him and waited for the authorities to come.
I read in the news that he had in fact done a citizen's arrest and stopped the guy at a Taco Bell and that they ended up calling in the Secret Service because he used the cash that he took from the safe to buy a bunch of counterfeiting equipment. The Secret Service apparently investigates counterfeiting, so the whole investigation happened because this guy who I dub "the white Shaft" tracked the loser down to get a wedding ring, some cash, and his research paper back. It all turned out to be true. He got the ring and the laptop back. I gladly accepted his original paper, and it got a much higher grade than the rewrite.
Student here. I headed into school early to get some studying done in the library before my night class. I was one exit away when I was caught in a three-car accident. Most of the expressway afterwards was gridlock with only one lane left open. I did eventually make it into my lab class 15 minutes late, with a few scrapes and bruises. My professor's reaction was simply, "Oh that was you!"
My sophomore year in high school, my dad passed. I missed a week of school. When I got back, I tried to turn in my English assignment that was due the week I was out. The teacher wouldn't accept it and said it was late. I told her my father had just passed and that's why I was out. She said, "I know. But it's still late.” I went home and told my mother. The next day, the principal, my guidance counselor and the super independent had all contacted my teacher to rip her a new one. She had to accept my assignment. She was salty about that the rest of the year.
I’m a kindergarten teacher. One of my students is just a very, very heavy sleeper. They often arrived late and missed our first class. After nap time, they would remain asleep no matter what we did. Music, tilting the bed slightly, asking them questions, even gently standing them up, nothing. Most children couldn’t help a cheeky grin or something when they didn’t want to wake up, but we got absolutely no response from this little one. Nothing medical, just slept like a rock.
I was leaving Nellis AFB with 20 minutes to get to my final presentation last semester when my wheel peace’d out into the desert. I kept my vehicle from flipping and got it to the shoulder where I pulled one of three usable lug studs and pulled it through on the other side. I got the wheel back on and hobbled to campus 10 minutes late. I gave my presentation and did alright, albeit covered in grease and drenched in sweat. My hub was toasted but the semester was saved.
I was the one late, but my history teacher asked why I arrived when there was about five minutes left of class. I simply said I was mauled by a dog and had to take my route all the way back home to bandage myself and had to walk all the way back to school. It was an interesting experience since the dog was a younger one with extremely new teeth.
I was training to be a teacher and this guy was repeatedly late to every class. He was 17 and just passed his driving test, so he drove to school every day. His excuse for being late was that the authorities stopped him and randomly searched his car twice a week. We thought maybe he was lying until he started driving to school with someone else in the class and then they started being late everyday too. They confirmed they were being stopped and searched too. They were literally late every day due to profiling.
In high school, I was a volunteer firefighter and EMT. When I turned 18 and could be the only EMT on the truck, my ambulance captain essentially quit leaving me as the only EMT at the station. So, every call was on me. One morning I was late and the teacher asked why I was late that time. I told her it was because I was doing CPR on an old woman but she didn't make it. The teacher didn't ask anymore.
I was a kid living in a shoddy apartment complex. My brothers and I were leaving for school when my mom opened the front door only to find armed S.W.A.T members outside. One guy looked at my mom and asked her to please turn off the front light and go back inside. My mom said sure and told us to stay away from the windows. Turned out, there was a huge bust a few doors down.
I’m a former teacher of the ninth grade. This kid came in right before the first period ended, totally out of it. He said, "Teacher, I swear I was going to be on time today. But when I got to school, I saw that security was doing random checks (at the front entrance). I had to run off and ingest my entire stash. It took a while.”
I teach the second grade. The note said, “Please excuse J for being late. We had a conversation about the results of yesterday’s election and what this may mean for his classmates”. This was the day after the president was elected. This boy was one of maybe 10 white kids in our school of 600, about 75% Latino (several from mixed-status families) and the remainder either African or African-American.
This one time, I had to cancel an appointment with my trainer because I was working as a detective and we had to deal with an incident where someone lost their life at the hands of another. He didn’t believe me. I told him to watch the news reporting and I would walk behind them. He saw me and realized I wasn’t just flaking out, so he didn’t charge me a cancellation fee.
One of my classmates came late to school, so our French teacher proceeded to ask him the reason, to which he responded that a bunch of animals (I believe it was cows or something like that) had invaded the street and the car couldn't get through it. Right when the teacher was starting to get mad at him, he showed her the picture that he had previously taken and sent to our class' group chat before arriving. She could do nothing but accept the evidence and it was hilarious since we pretty much all dislike her.
I came in late after getting my ruptured appendix taken out and still couldn’t walk as fast as usual. The English teacher locked the door and told me to go to the office, but I already had a doctor's note in hand. I kept knocking until he opened it and let him yell for a few minutes before showing him I got out of surgery two days prior and didn’t even have to show up for another week or two. He shut up pretty quickly.
Tardy slips at school are printed with the student's name and reason for tardiness, like “overslept” or “dentist appointment.” I got one that said “toga stuck in car.” During spirit week, seniors have "toga day.” This guy was late because when he got out of his car, he got the sheet stuck in the door. He then realized that as he got his toga situated to get out of the car, he laid his keys down on the seat and was now stuck because the door was locked. He couldn't move until his mom came and unlocked his door because he was going commando (or so he said).
One of my teachers in college arrived at school when all the roads were closed. He came on skis and when we clapped as he entered the classroom, 20 minutes late and soaked to the skin from the still-falling snow, he said, “Don’t clap for me. I’m just doing my job. I wouldn’t let a snowstorm stop me from teaching Latin!”
I went to a high school in the middle of downtown in a moderately-sized city. Seniors were allowed to leave the school during our lunch period. One day, my friends and I walked a couple blocks to a Chinese place, only to discover on the way back to the school that the circus was in town and we were stuck on the wrong side of a parade. Our teacher looked up the parade dates before he would believe us when we came into class late.
I used to work as an English teacher in South Korea. A kid turned up to my two-hour class one and a half hours late, so I proceeded to give him both barrels until he showed me the palm of his hand. He had 15 stitches across it. One of his other teachers had hit him with a metal ruler. My school would not let me call the authorities.
A student I had at my last institution kept on showing up to class and his learning center appointments the morning after having mini-strokes. His face wouldn’t work right and he would even sometimes have trouble with his right arm. However, that somehow didn’t stop him and he was there until we sent him home each and every time.
I had a student who got stopped and ticketed on the way to school for jaywalking right in front of the school. Her mom would stop in the middle of traffic on the busy street and tell her to just get out of the car. On this particular day, a cop was waiting to ticket the mom and daughter. I excused the daughter's tardiness, but judged the mom silently.
I had a coach who would always say the only excused excuse was for a compound fracture (in a sarcastic tone). Then one day, a student was gone. Our coach asked the class where they were. They responded that they had a compound fracture, totally serious. Lo and behold, they had a compound fracture from a soccer game.
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