by Mad Dog
About the only excuses they didn’t use
were “The dog ate our flight plan” and “I thought we were
supposed to read Chapter 10 of the 747 flight manual, not Chapter
Excuses can be a wonderful thing. Well, as long as you’re
the one making the excuses and not one of those having to listen to
them while trapped inside a hot airplane that’s been sitting on a
runway for 2½ hours. Unfortunately in Denver the other day I was
one of the excusees rather than the excusers.
We tried to be patient—after all, it’s bad
form to be arrested for air rage before you even leave the
ground—listening to one excuse after the other being offered by
this unnamed airline. (Hint: It begins with a “U”, ends in a
“d”, is an anagram for untied, and isn’t Delta.) I have to
say, they were some of the most creative excuses since the producers
of the Rocky and Bullwinkle movie pleaded not to have to
return their salaries to the movie studio.
First we had to wait while the pilot and
co-pilot arrived on a flight from Washington, D.C. where they’d
been delayed by bad weather. Once on board they discovered the radio
wouldn’t work so they had to get it repaired. No sooner was it
fixed than the flight attendants realized it was past their shift
time and a new flight crew had to be found. About the only excuses
they didn’t use were “The dog ate our flight plan”, “I
thought we were supposed to read Chapter 10 of the 747 flight
manual, not Chapter 14”, and “Oral sex isn’t sexual
intercourse.” Then again, pilots aren’t hired for their
If you admit to having
eaten the whole package of cookies you’ll never even smell another
one until you’re sixteen and can blow the money you made selling
drugs on anything you damn well please.
If they didn’t feel like taking us to Detroit they should
have just said so. After all, as we were always told, honesty is the
best policy. True we were also told that the harder we worked the
more money we’d make, that fanny packs don’t really look stupid,
and that size doesn’t matter, but the one about honesty is the
truth. I swear.
It’s actually much easier to accept the
straight truth than it is a lame excuse. George Washington
understood that when he confessed to chopping down the cherry tree.
He could just as easily have said Richard Nixon did it and everyone
would have believed him. After all, who has the more honest face?
But he didn’t. He confessed, took his punishment, and grew up to
Nowadays people don’t feel that same
compelling need to tell the truth, which may be one of the reasons a
recent poll showed that only 40% of kids want to follow in George
Washington’s footsteps while 56% would rather be a CEO. Of course
they probably think CEO means Cheating at Every Opportunity and
don’t realize that holds for being president too.
We first learn to make excuses as children. We
do this because parents don’t want to know the truth. If you say
you ate the whole package of cookies you’ll never even smell
another one until you’re sixteen and can blow the money you made
selling drugs on anything you damn well please. If you confess to
having broken the cut glass relish dish you know you’ll be sent to
bed without dinner. And if you tell your parents you stuck a pin in
those rolled up balloons they keep in the night stand because you
were angry that you didn’t get dinner, they’re liable to hand
you a bill for the cost of sending that brother they didn’t intend
for you to have to college for five and a half years.
I once worked at a place
where a female employee took several days off at the onset of her
menstrual period because of extreme cramps. This was no problem
until the general manager noticed she was doing this every 14
|| Thus we make up
excuses. Things like the guppy ate the cookies, the relish dish was
broken when you got home from school, and you have a new brother
because Dad’s so virile and manly that of course he has sperm
strong enough to penetrate anything. While Mom may not buy this last
one Dad will be so flattered that he won’t have the nerve to
One rule of excuses is that they have to be
somewhat believable. A while back Thomas Story of Santa Ana,
California told a jury that he stabbed his wife 25 times in the back
to make it look like murder because he didn’t want his son to go
through life stigmatized by the idea that his mother had committed
suicide. Wisely the jury didn’t buy the excuse. In Japan the
government waited nine years to approve the use of birth control
pills for contraception, this in spite of taking only six months to
allow Viagra to be prescribed. Their excuse was that they were
afraid widespread use of birth control pills would bring about the
destruction of the nation’s morals. This coming from the country
that brought us Pokémon, karaoke, Tamagotchi, and Hello Kitty.
Another rule of excuses is that you can’t
use the same one too often. I once worked at a place where a female
employee took several days off at the onset of her menstrual period
because of extreme cramps. This was no problem until the general
manager noticed she was doing this every 14 days. This, like having
six grandmothers who take turns dying when it’s time to go in for
your I.R.S. audit, shows that there can be too much of a good
excuse. On the other hand, your dog having eaten all the airline
executives is another thing altogether. Good dog! Good dog!
©2000 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Quit
making up excuses and read them.