Saturday, March 5, 2011

Past Deadline: Swarm of Bees

There was a cute piece on the news last week about the creativity people are showing with excuses about why they are late for work. Of course I mean “cute” in an eye-rolling sort of way. I think it is quite applicable to excuses given for bad behaviour in general.

The CTV story indicated this is a growing problem. Hundreds of Canadian companies and employees were surveyed by an online job company, and apparently 19 per cent of respondents said they arrive late to work at least once a week, and 11 per cent claim to be late twice per week. One quarter of those tardy folks said “lack of sleep” was their reason for lateness, and another quarter blamed traffic. Public transit, bad weather, getting kids to school/daycare, Internet use and spouses were also on the list.

The story didn’t get specific about just how, exactly, Internet use and spouses made a person late, so of course I’m using my imagination:

“Well, boss, my spouse stood in the doorway with his hands on his hips and refused to let me pass.”

Or how about: “A rope came out from my computer screen, wrapped around my neck and started to tighten whenever I stopped Facebooking.” Yes, I think “Facebooking” is officially a verb now. If it isn’t, it probably will be soon.

The story went on to describe some “whoppers” that didn’t make the top five, but that were considered to be wild tales. One was that a bear stopped an employee’s car, smashed the window and tried to grab him or her. Another claimed to have been attacked by the pet cat, another said the car was inhabited by bees, and one said grandma went missing.

I dunno. They sound wild, but in a way those ones are as believable as the usual weather, traffic and transit excuses, which strike me as old and tired even if they are true.

And sometimes excuses are more of a fill-in-the-blanks thing. A teacher friend told me one of her students didn’t get an assignment finished “because she was in Ottawa.” Shrug. Of course! Ottawa! Totally understandable because a) they have no computers/Internet in Ottawa and b) spending time in Ottawa gives one an immediate homework pass. Just because. So there.


I mean, it’s not as if I want people to lie to me when they give excuses, but I also think people are just not being overly accountable or responsible. Most of the time you can leave earlier in bad weather or during construction season, but you can’t really plan for a bee swarm or for grandma flying the coop.

I think we have to just face the fact that sometimes we screw up. We can’t always blame someone or something else.

That’s why I wanted to emphasize something I said in my column a few weeks ago about the guy who seemed determined to run a bunch of us down at the crossing at Wilson and Isabella streets.
There has been some comment in The Perth Courier since then about that intersection. There is no denying it’s a busy spot. Lots of folks have reported near misses. I like the changes made to the intersection in the construction. As a pedestrian who stands on its various corners with a small group of children a couple of times a day, I feel less exposed now that the crossing is set back from the corners. If drivers jump the gun, there is time for them to stop as they come around.

What happened to us a few weeks ago had nothing to do with how that intersection is designed. The driver in question waited for some of us to cross, then barged out before the rest had made it. He ignored Lloyd the crossing guard, who was standing in the middle of the road wearing his bright orange vest and holding his stop sign.

The intersection didn’t nearly hit my children, the guy in the car nearly did. And that is what is going on at Wilson and Isabella and in so many other places. People need to pay attention, slow down and be patient.

Now, possibly the driver in question was dealing with a swarm of bees in his car, but I kinda doubt it.
Published in The Perth Courier, March 3/11.

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