Updated: April 11, 2014 6:08AM
What’s the lamest, craziest or most far-fetched excuse you’ve used (or received) to call off work or for being late on the job?
According to a new survey by Chicago-based CareerBuilder, nearly one fourth of employees admit to being tardy at least once a month, with 15 percent arriving late at least once a week, with very memorable excuses.
From “accidentally putting Super Glue in my eye instead of contact lens solution” to “I forgot the company had changed locations.” And “a hole in the roof caused rain to fall on my alarm clock” to “I thought Halloween was a work holiday.”
The most common excuses include being caught in traffic, lack of sleep and bad weather. But, as a former owner of a family food business, I heard about every ridiculous excuse you could imagine.
I asked my social media world for their most memorable (or forgettable) ones. Here are a few: My wife is going into labor; I’m getting a vasectomy; my bird is sick; I have no shoelaces; and my car was taped off as part of a crime scene.
I’ll note your best or worst excuses in a future column.
Dealing with difficult students
Several teachers contacted me after reading my column on today’s students being more unruly in the classroom than in previous generations.
As I noted, being a teacher is tough work, even in the best schools across this region. It’s not a job for sissies or for me. I’ve tried it for a day or two, and I came away exhausted and annoyed.
Last week, a group of nationally renowned educational trainers hosted workshops in Merrillville to help educators who routinely work with children. The event, hosted by the Indiana Youth Institute, featured one workshop that caught my attention.
“When Consequences Don’t Work: Succeeding with Difficult Students,” hosted by former teacher and current education consultant Grace Dearborn of California-based Conscious Teaching LLC.
Her session focused on both prevention and intervention techniques to best deal with unruly kids. Also, how to use consequences while modeling respectful communication, teaching responsibility and deescalating confrontations.
Two key tips were responding to “invisible subtitles” and using “soft eyes.”
“Invisible subtitles are the things difficult kids are trying to communicate to us when they misbehave,” Dearborn said. “So the kids might be yelling at us, rolling their eyes, using threatening body language or having a tantrum. But what they are truly trying to communicate is very different than what those behaviors appear to be communicating on the surface.”
Subtitles such as, “Please don’t give up on me,” “Please hold me accountable for my behavior in a safe and structured way,” and “What can I do right now to behave better.”
“I encourage folks to look for and respond to the subtitle and ignore the noise,” she noted.
“Soft eyes” is a way to control your own feelings of anger and frustration.
“If you focus on keeping the muscles around and between your eyes soft or neutral, with no tension, your voice will naturally follow,” Dearborn told me.
“It is a physiological impossibility to have an edge in your voice without also having tension in the eyes. So focusing on the eyes helps us also use a safe tone of voice and safe physical posture. Then, we can intervene with a student more productively without escalating volatile situations.”
Difficult students assume the worst of adults in power but, deep down, they want there to be an exception, she noted. In other words, they want an adult who will treat them with respect, hold them accountable, and who will never give up on them, no matter what awful things the student does or says.
“So they test us by acting out in class. They are collecting evidence, watching, noting how we respond,” she said.
And if the adult passes their test? They test the adult again and again.
This, I say, is where educators become teachers, similar to a father becoming a dad. It’s not for every adult, or for every educator, and I’m continually impressed by those teachers who have the patience to reach these troubled kids.
Bill Kurtis calling
Several readers have asked how to listen to my radio show interview with legendary TV newsman Bill Kurtis, who chatted with me on air for a half hour Friday.
Kurtis, a news icon in the Chicago area, was funny, affable and insightful while talking about his exhaustive work, his countless TV projects and his newest product soon to launch — a hot dog. (I kid you not.)
He also revealed the one word he didn’t want to say while making the popular “Anchorman” films, yet he said it nonchalantly on my show.
But don’t take it from me. You can hear it straight from the cattleman’s mouth by listening to the show at your convenience here: http://lakeshorepublicmedia.org/bill-kurtis/.
Thank you, neighbor
Versie Humes read my column on neighbors who have gone above and beyond during this brutal winter. She, too, has such neighbors on West 54th Place in Merrillville.
“Rowland and Dorothy Black are kind, helpful and they care about their neighbors,” she told me. “There is no way for me to thank them for their years of kindheartedness.
Yes, Versie, there is a way, and hopefully you just did it, in print.
Flu shot success
A few months ago, I received my first-ever flu shot and I promised to update readers as to how it has worked, or didn’t work.
Well, it’s early March and, so far, it’s worked like a charm during this lingering winter and contagious flu season. Not only have I not been infected by the flu bug, I’ve not even had a cold to sniff at.
Was it the shot or just luck? I don’t know, but it’s the first year I can remember without dealing with flu-like symptoms for weeks. I’ll leave it at that.
Connect with Jerry via email, at email@example.com, voice mail, at 713-7237, or Facebook, Twitter, and his blog, at jerrydavich.wordpress.com.