Excuses. Everyone hates to get them, but sometimes, you need one to explain why you didn't do something you should have or, even worse, did something you regret. Before computers became ubiquitous and we started communicating online, it was easy to say, "My dog ate my homework," "I didn't say what he said I said" or "It must have gotten lost in the mail." But in the 21st century, you need high-tech excuses to avoid taking responsibility. Here are 10 of the best.
1. I lost my signal.
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Before mobile devices, it was easy to be out of pocket; you'd just leave the house. With the popularity of smartphones today, however, we're expected to be available 24/7 for important emails, text messages, IMs or calls. Fortunately, if your boss calls with something urgent, you can always reject the call and tell him later that you were in a cellphone dead zone.
You don't even need to be in a remote location to make this excuse work. Despite their efforts to blanket the country with LTE coverage, all four carriers have massive dead areas, even in the biggest cities. Much of the time, I can't get a signal on any of the carriers in our Manhattan office. Your boss has to believe you when you say you had no bars.
2. It got stuck in my outbox.
We're more than 20 years into the Internet era, but email is still no more reliable than the post office during a Nor'easter. On the PC, email clients like Outlook are particularly vulnerable to problems with either the mail server or connectivity. Because of dead zones, emails composed on phones are even more likely to get stuck. You can hit send on that urgent report the CEO requested and think that it went out, but look later and see that it never left your outbox. If you haven't finished the report, just tell him or her that's what happened as it passes the buck from you to the IT department, your carrier, your ISP or the mail host.
3. Damn you, autocorrect!
Everyone knows that autocorrect, which is designed to save phone users from typos, and autocomplete, which saves time by finishing words for you, are as unreliable as they are ubiquitous. Most of us have laughed at the ridiculousness of the mistakes on damnyouautocorrect.com. So, when in the heat of the moment, you text all of your co-workers and say "I quit," you can tell them after you cool down that you really meant "I quilt."
4. It was in my spam folder.
By default, Gmail and many other email services filter messages that they think are junk mail into a spam folder that nobody checks. Unfortunately, sometimes these filters get it wrong and send your message into no man's land. So, if you forgot about that important meeting, or didn't respond to that urgent email, just blame your email software and say the message was marked as spam.
5. I was hacked.
You can thank former congressman Anthony Weiner for popularizing, yet also delegitimizing, this excuse when he falsely claimed that his naked-pic tweets were sent by someone else. However, with passwords being stolen left and right, it's quite plausible that someone else could use your social media account to post under your name. So, next time you make an off-color joke on Facebook, drunk-tweet an unpopular political view or Instagram a picture of your acute athlete's-foot outbreak, just blame hackers and hope that people believe you.
6. My firewall blocked it.
Most people today have heard of firewalls, which prevent potentially dangerous traffic from entering your network. However, like spam filters, these security mechanisms can block important data from coming in or going out. At some companies, the IT department even sets the firewall to block any site with a server based in a foreign country. Firewalls can also prevent you from sending emails to certain domains. So, if you owe someone a sales quote and haven't sent it yet, using "my firewall blocked the email I sent to you" as an excuse might work.
7. My calendar was set to the wrong time zone.
You live in California, but next week, you're going to New York for a meeting at 1 p.m. local time. You enter the appointment in your phone's calendar as 1 p.m., but on the day of the event, you get an alert at 4 p.m., 3 hours too late. Unfortunately, unless you specify a time zone for a meeting, most calendars assume it is in your current time zone and adjust the time when you get off the plane in your new location. Many people have had this problem, so if you're traveling and miss an important appointment, blame your phone's calendar.
8. I'm still trying to figure out Windows 8.
Considering how confusing and unpopular Microsoft's Modern UI is, you can probably use Windows 8 as a blanket excuse for avoiding work. The Windows 8 / 8.1 email client is a mess, so people may believe that you couldn't find their message. The Live Tile for email is particularly misleading: It shows you a list of new messages you've received, but when you tap it, you go to the inbox, which may or may not have the message you wanted at the top.
If you need to bring printed materials to a meeting and either forgot to print them or didn't write them as you were supposed to, blame Windows 8's Charms menu. It buries the print function for "Modern UI" apps a few swipes away. Unfortunately, this excuse doesn't apply to desktop programs like Microsoft Office, but your boss may not know that.
9. I couldn't open the file you sent.
An oldie but goodie. File-incompatibility excuses can help you explain why you didn't act on a document, spreadsheet, image, video or other asset you were sent. Media files are particularly easy to dismiss as incompatible because of all the codecs and compression schemes involved. So, even if the video you received was a standard MP4, you may not be able to edit or play it.
Today, most word-processing, spreadsheet and presentation programs can read one another's formats, but you can still give the incompatibility excuse a shot. Also, remember that to make this excuse work, you need to proactively tell the person who sent you the file that you couldn't open it. Otherwise, they'll assume you didn't try.
10. My battery died.
Claiming your battery was dead should be a last-resort excuse for not responding to communications or accomplishing tasks. In order to make this explanation plausible, you'll have to say you were either in an area without power outlets or left your charger at home. Even if your boss believes that you really had no power, he or she could ask why you failed to charge your battery in advance or carry a spare.