As a college professor for over 30 years, I’ve heard every excuse known to student-kind for skipping class – or so I thought.

My attendance policies are always clearly spelled out at the beginning of each semester. Yet someone always wants to challenge my rules. Years ago, a young man came to class with excuses so elaborate and preposterous that he convinced me of their validity.

This particular student started out doing quite well, but as the semester wore on he missed two classes in a row. I asked his classmates if they knew anything regarding his whereabouts. They all shrugged or shook their heads “no.”

The following week, the student showed up for class and sheepishly asked if he could have a word with me. He knew he was in deep trouble when I told him that no excuse could justify his double absence. He asked if we could go to my office to speak privately.

I thought, “Here we go,” but we walked to my office and sat down. After humbly saying that he was sorry, he began his stories.

On the day of his first absence, he said, he was walking down Congress Street in Portland when, from a side street, a man dressed as a clown walked up and began beating him with a large fabric ball bat. He fell, passed out and ended up being hospitalized.

“Wow!” I thought. I’d just taken my own kids to the circus in town, and so this story seemed odd but plausible.

He then sat on the edge of his chair, all the time straightening his posture. I could see the excitement growing in his eyes.

“You are not going to believe what happened to me last week on my way to campus.”

“Try me,” I said.

He’d picked up a friend and was driving to school, he said, when they had a flat tire. They stopped and got out the spare.

As they were removing the tire, out of the woods came a wild boar about to viciously attack them. They scrambled back into the car in fear for their lives, then called a tow truck and sat waiting for over an hour.

What he described next was riveting. The tow truck arrived and parked by the car. As the driver got out, the hog started charging him. The driver quickly pulled out a gun from behind his seat and shot the hog dead. Then the guy picked up the animal and threw it into the back of his truck.

These stories were undoubtedly the most outlandish excuses I had yet heard. Also, they were so entertaining that I just had to believe them … until two years later.

I was sharing these stories with another class when a young man told me he had known the fellow I mentioned and knew the stories were made up. He saw the look on my face and said, “Think about it – we don’t have wild hogs in Maine, but we do have some pretty gullible folks living here!”


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