Survey: Whopper excuses for calling in sick

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On the whopper-excuse scale for employees calling in sick, how can "I ate something bad" come remotely close to "a bird bit me," "my toe is stuck in a faucet" or "I'm suffering from a broken heart"?

These are some of the "colorful explanations" employees have given for taking a sick day, according to responses from 2,494 U.S. employers surveyed in summer by Harris Interactive for CareerBuilder, the human resources company and recruitment site that has done the survey since 2004.

Some employers keep track of the most memorable excuses. On John Caracciolo's top five list are: "I dropped my iPhone in the toilet and I use that for my alarm clock" and "I was very upset after Lauren Alaina lost 'American Idol' -- I was up all night throwing up."

"They're telling the truth," the chief executive of JVC Broadcasting in Ronkonkoma says of his employees, many of whom are DJs or marketing types, with an average age of 26. His response, "OK, stay home. It's probably better."

At the top of the list for Al Frazia, a chief human resources officer, is an employee from a former company who called in saying he "stepped on a pop top" and "had to cruise on back home," lyrics from the Jimmy Buffett song "Margaritaville."

Frazia, now with Melville-based accounting firm Holtz Rubenstein Reminick Llp, admits to a "guffaw" over that excuse. Still, he says that employees with such excuses were "viewed with some degree of uncertainty regarding their long-term potential."

Kevin Kelly, chief creative officer of BigBuzz Marketing Group, Melville, says he's heard his share: "My mom can't drive me today."

"We want people to take 'down-days,' and if their dog eats their bird, or their sewer backs up into their house, then please DO take the day off," he says.

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