1. Keep a notebook to jot down memories of every single unpleasant incident/accident that’s out of the ordinary with all the details. You never know when you may need to tell that story. You could use this to explain everything from why you were late or why you couldn’t make the deadline at a later date. Given all the rich details, people are most likely to believe you. Because lies usually don’t have depth.
Sample: The day your car/bike hit a stray mongrel, stopped, were almost beaten up by the mob, called Just Dial to find the nearest vet, went through a One way street, hoping you would make it on time before the clinic closed, how consumed you were by guilt and finally, how relieved you were that you were able to save it.
2. Make yourself the butt of the joke. This is absolutely essential. Your excuse should make you look like an idiot which is what makes the person you are telling the story to, believe that it happened to you.
Sample: The pigeon dropping landed right on my mouth just when I was looking up to read the name of the building. And I wiped it off with an instant reflex action on the sleeve of my shirt. Had to go home to change.
3. No problem if you don’t have an incident from your memory you can use or any funny incident involving you. Think about the most interesting story you have heard… that happened to someone else outside the circle you are about to use this on. Now when you are narrating this story as an excuse, adapt it well by adding some quirk people generally associate with you to the original protagonist of the story.
Sample: “So you know how forgetful I am, I locked the keys inside the car. And then we tried to break open the window but it just wouldn’t break. We tried bricks, we tried this huge spear. People around tried finding stuff they can contribute to break the window and I worked my charm and kept people entertained and amused, that finally a policeman helped us to open the lock without breaking the window with a simple trick he picked up from a car thief.” People like a great story, they like to believe it really happened so that they can share it with someone else.
4. Whatever be your excuse, the most important thing is the person you are telling this to should have never ever heard anything like it before. So don’t use the obvious ones: Flat tyre, It was raining, Granny died, Accident, etc… That’s plain amateur. Instead go for: Donated blood for emergency, Scuffle with traffic policeman over fine imposed on you wrongfully, Had to bail out your best friend who eloped, bumped into Shah Rukh Khan/Sachin Tendulkar/Rajnikant when you went to drop off a friend at the airport and had a long chat because his flight was late…
5. If you can’t think of anything, use this blanket excuse. “No Excuses. I am really sorry. But maybe I will tell you another day what happened. Just too shaken up with a personal crisis. I am really sorry.”
Oh, and you’re welcome!
(The author is a veteran of making excuses. This story, for example, was due a few months ago. This column originally appeared here.)