I was about to write a column on excuses for lateness or absence when I discovered I could steal from some other people's efforts on the same subject. And I make no excuse whatsoever for the theft.

It seems that a supervisor I know (I'll disguise him with dark glasses and the name "Larry") has had a standard response to employes who call in about arriving late or not at all: "Spare me the details, just tell me the number of your excuse ."

A few days ago, his employes were moved to compose an actual numbered list. Larry even chipped in a few items himself. And here's their compilation (edited only slightly for a family newspaper):

1. Child Sick

2. Cat Sick

3. Dog Sick

4. I'm Sick

5. Overslept

6. Traffic

7. Mad Bomber at Monument

8. Battery Dead

9. Furnace Went Out

10. Headaches

11. Sinuses

12. Subway Suicide

13. Uncle Bob Arrested

14. Grandmother/Grandfather Died

15. Grandmother/Grandfather Died Again

16. No Tires

17. Basement Flooded

18. Emergency Vacation (to Bahamas)

19. Toilet Backup

20. Waiting for Deliveries

21. Emergency Vacation (for Assorted and Sundry Reasons)

22. Snow

23. Snow/Ski Emergency

24. Bay Bridge (One Lane)

25. Backup in Bowie

26. Child Has Broken Parts

27. Wind and/or Sunburn

28. Chandelier Accident

29. Sick Leave/Eye Strain

30. Sick Leave/Radiation

31. Acute Smoke Inhalation

32. Gambler's Leave (Atlantic City)

33. Slipped Off Boat Slip

34. Lottery Leave (Md. or D.C.)

35. Robbery Leave

36. Rain

Those interested in expanding this list for their own use obviously can add various special occasions plus the malfunction of other car parts, body parts, housing parts or relatives. In dealing with a less sympathetic supervisor, however, it's wise to attend your grandparents' anniversary before their funerals rather than after.

If there's a serious moral to all of this, it has to do with jocularity. The group that jokes about excuses together, produces together.