East Coast / West Coast: What is a valid excuse?

Mike Gold living the dream in the Pacific Northwest. Photo credit: Nancy Gold.
Mike Gold living the dream in the Pacific Northwest. Photo credit: Nancy Gold.

By Mike Gold, A retired entrepreneur living the dream in the Pacific Northwest.

I’ve noticed over the years that if you really pay attention, it is usually apparent when someone gives you a non-valid excuse.

It is not simply the excuse itself, but importantly, how it is delivered.

Here are just a few examples:

"Let’s have lunch," is one of my favorite excuses. You and someone you know, but really don’t want to get to know much better, says to you as your meeting breaks up, “Hey, let’s do lunch.”

Your response, “Great, I’ll call you (or text you) or e-mail you to set this up.”

This is a lunch that will never happen. I’ve had lots of excuses made to me. In fact, I suppose I should start getting a little paranoid about all these “no’s.”

Another one is, “I’m on a diet.”

Here is another, “I have to take my significant other to the doctor,” a convenient excuse which you can use as soon as the other party suggests a day and time.

Yet another is: “My dog/cat is sick and I have to watch him 24/7.”

My next example is, “Can I borrow your car?” I don’t know about you, but lending out my sports car is something I simply would not do. Why? First of all, when you lend your sports or sporty car, the driver has no financial or emotional attachment to your car. So any and all frustrations, anger, and all other emotions can be “let loose” during their time with your car.

Here is a classic one from the movie "Ferris Buller’s Day Off." They make the mistake of giving his friend’s Ferrari to a parking attendant in this video ferrari joy ride.

I remember in college loaning my Volkswagen (stick shift) to a fraternity brother. Funny, the next day, my car needed a new clutch. So what do you do? Confront the friend. He’ll no doubt say, “Well the car was no different when I picked it up than when I returned it to you.”

Another one is, “Would you like to come to a concert with me?” Lots of hidden mines in this invitation. One is do you even know who’s performing, let alone whether you like the group or not. Next, what are the “attachments” beyond the concert? For example, the next statement after you accept might be, “Let’s go to dinner first.” Wham, the implication is they supply the ticket, you pay for the dinner. So if you get roped into this, you will spend a hundred to two hundred dollars on dinner, then have to listen to a group that your opinion about them is, “Keep your day job.”

So how do you “get out of this?” Simple, your excuse is, “I have the beginnings of a hearing problem. So I really can’t be exposed to very loud sounds.”

Here’s another event, which begs for an excuse, “How about coming over to my parents’ house for a holiday dinner?”

You can almost guarantee that the dinner will degrade into chaos. Why? Well, let’s say you say how much you admire President Trump. Then you learn that every member of the family (except the father) hates Trump. So the father jumps in to defend Trump. From there, the dinner degenerates into a shouting match which  finally ends when one of the children (hopefully not the one that invited you) says something like, “I can’t possibly be your son/daughter.”

So it’s best to make an excuse. Such as, “I am on a highly restricted diet due to my large ulcer. If I eat even one bite of food too rich (or whatever) I will projectile vomit all over your entire family.” I find that usually does the trick.

Then there are those events that are as dangerous as a lit stick of dynamite. One is when your spouse asks, “Does this make me look fat?” One great excuse is to say, “I have a multiple migraine and I can’t see straight ahead.

Or if the spouse says, “Tomorrow night I’m making Haggis for dinner.”

What do you do? First thing in the morning, arrange a “fake” cell phone call. Then hang up and say, “My boss has called an off-site organization reorganization meeting from 4 PM until it’s done, probably near midnight. So I’m going to have to ask to postpone for another time.” (Hopefully when you’ve been called to your company’s most remote office. New Zealand is a popular choice.)

My favorite excuse is form Woody Allen in "Annie Hall." He’s asked by his date to go to some event after a concert. He replies, “I can’t my raccoon has hepatitis.” Here is the YouTube video: Annie Hall - my racoon has hepatitis.

I’ll see you next week (if I have not been called up by the Army Reserve).


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