At the office there's a big printed cardboard wheel with a pivot in the middle and little punch-cut holes. It says "Because a Bad Excuse is Better than No Excuse" and has been lying around for a few years now. The original source is apparently a novelty sales company, but this item seems to be out-of-print. For posterity, a semi-random sampling of the "Dial-an-Excuse" suggestions that it offers, through windows in a rotating disc:

Category Issue Classic Excuse Extenuating Excuse Mundane Excuse Far-Fetched Excuse Sob Story Excuse
COMMUNICATION Missed Birthday Later Surprise Planned Mercury in Retrograde Preoccupied at Work Gift Stolen at Gun-point Childhood Birthday Trauma
Unreturned E-Mail Technical Difficulty Spilled on KeyboardTremendous Backlog House Burned Down Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
ATTENDANCE Early Departure Headache Food Poisoning Big Day Tomorrow Secret Spy Mission Weaned Too Soon
Tardiness Slept Through Alarm Sewage Emergency Stuck in Traffic Fell in Ditch Unexpected Nausea
PERFORMANCE Nodding Off Recent Insomnia Nighttime Street Noise Too Warm in Room Doped Against Will Narcolepsy
Lack of Preparation Not Enough Time Printer Problems Took Longer than Thought Parole Officer Visited Sudden Learning Disability
FINANCE Under-Employment No Good Jobs Fear of Harassment Following Dream Scheduling Conflict Agoraphobia
Bounced Check Bad Arithmetic Ex Emptied Account Should Have Cleared Government Plot Children Going Hungry
INFRACTION Traffic Violation Speedometer Broken Hemorrhoid Attack Didn't See Sign Being Chased Whining Child
Fender Bender Didn't See Other Car Tire Blowout Talking on Cell Phone Bad Song on Radio Epileptic Seizure
Public Inebriation Empty Stomach Accidental Fermentation Only Had a Few Slipped a Mickey at Drive-Thru Very Thirsty
PERSONAL RELATIONS Platonic Rejection So Busy Right Now Too Many Friends Working All the Time Moving to Australia Entering Intensive Therapy
Romantic Rejection Not Ready Entering Monastery Need to Be Alone Upcoming Sex Change Scared of Intimacy
Offensive Behavior Drunkenness Unwitting Drug Consumption Acting Out from Stress Supernatural Possession Frequent Childhood Humiliation
Inappropriate Outburst Straw Broke Camel's Back Just Got Bad News That Time of Month Birth Canal Flashback Went Off Medication
Divulged Secret Just Slipped Out Under Hypnosis Unaware of Confidentiality Paid Lots to Reveal Tourette's Syndrome

Yes, many of them aren't terribly funny, and others are rather dated already (the "Dial-an-Excuse" wheel is copyrighted 2005 on the back), but others rate at least a smile. Nowadays, of course, the mechanical disc-with-windows approach feels so quaint ...

^z - 2014-06-30