Joanne Palmer: Excuses, excuses, excuses |

Joanne Palmer: Excuses, excuses, excuses

Joanne Palmer
In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at or
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Never underestimate the power of the perfect excuse. The right excuse can free you from dozens of situations you don’t want to be in. Picture this: You are at the grocery store and who should you spy but your arch nemesis, the back-stabbing witch who routinely takes credit for your ideas to make herself look good to the boss. She is headed your way to invite you to her annual cookie exchange.


Just as you should keep a first-aid kit and flashlight in your car, back up your computer files, and have breath mints in your purse, it’s imperative to have some tried and true excuses at the ready.

I am the queen of bad excuses. Years ago, when I lived in the Big Apple, I pleaded a blinding migraine to skip out of work early to get ready for a black-tie party. Alas, just a few hours later, my boss sailed by me on the dance floor and snarkily asked, “How’s the headache?”


With a little Googling and imagination, I have pulled together some excuses to help get you through the holidays.

Calling In Sick

No one feels like working during the holidays. You’ve already done double duty setting up the tree, cooking and shopping. Besides, there are parties to go to, people to see and powder to ski. My advice is: Go big. Every boss has heard about the flu, a sick child or a car that won’t start. Serve up a whopper of an excuse that is so over-the-top your boss will have no choice but to buy it. Practice up so you sound convincing! Try one of these culled from

– “I accidentally flushed my keys down the toilet.”

– “My cow bit me.”

– “I’m too fat to get into my work outfit.”

– “I forgot I was getting married today.”

House Guests

Isn’t it amazing how popular you are when you live in a resort? Discouraging house guests is an art form, and the best advice I found came not from Miss Manners but from biologists Dan Edge and Jeff Picton, of Oregon State University.

“Animals can be discouraged from staying in many of the same ways you might discourage dreaded human guests. Provide no food, make their life miserable, then make it easy for them to leave,” they reported.

Have some fun with this! All your extra sheets and towels are at the dry cleaners and darn it all, the dry cleaner has left town and closed up shop for two weeks. Hard to believe but the appliance repairman is out of town and the oven and dishwasher aren’t working. What a bummer! A raccoon must have gotten into the power lines again because whoops, there’s no heat. But, by some miracle, the front door still swings open easily just in time for you to call out, “Adios!”

Holiday Stress

Crowded stores, gifts to buy, cards to mail, holiday parties to attend and tree lights that don’t work. Get over yourself. Get outside and have the mother of all snowball fights. Build up a pile of snowballs and throw them at the nearest tree. And while you’re at it, make like Tarzan, beat on your chest and let out a great big primal scream.

Now back to Brunhilda, the woman who might inspire you to take up a life of crime just so you can deliver her head to the taxidermist. Kill her with kindness instead.

Flash her your biggest smile and greet her like the long-lost friend she most certainly isn’t. Before she can even open her mouth, pull out your cell phone, clamp it to your ear and with a cheery little wave of your hand keep going.

Now have yourself a merry little Christmas!

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