Teachers of reddit were asked: "What's an unbelievable excuse a student has given you, that was proven true?" These are some of the best answers.
1/23 An email: "Hi Professor. I'm missing class because I contracted typhoid in the lab." Absolutely true.
2/23 A student of mine sent me an e-mail that he couldn't come in and take an exam because he had fallen off of a cliff. I thought that it was a lazy excuse but the next time he came to class (about a week later), he was in a wheelchair with casts on his legs.
It turns out that he had been rock climbing, fell, and shattered both of his ankles.
3/23 I was teaching a middle school art class and organized chaos was going on. One of the cool and popular guys was like. "Oh dude, here's some extra yarn! Can I go to my locker and get my crochet hook?" I excused him from class and figured it was an odd excuse to go wander the halls and stall before class ended. Nope, he returned with a crochet hook and darn if he didn't start whipping up an awesome hat.
4/23 He had to go to Vienna for a piano competition. He brought the trophy, a picture of him in Vienna, and a link to a news article about him winning as proof.
5/23 Chris said he didn't do the homework because his car caught fire on his ride home, and his textbook was in the back seat. I was suspicious, but he quickly produced the badly charred textbook, which was also completely waterlogged from when the fire department put out the fire, and asked me if I could issue him a new one. Result: I gave him another day to do the homework and gave him another textbook.
6/23 A student told me he missed a week of class (and a test) because he was sitting in the waiting room at the abortion clinic with his girlfriend waiting for her appointment when his mom comes in for her appointment. 'It was pretty f*cked up', he said, 'especially since my parents were separated for about 6 months but last weekend they decided to try to make it work'.
7/23 Back in 2009, Colin, a senior, missed our midyear exam--a big no-no. While proctoring the exam, I sent him an email telling him to contact me immediately. He wrote back: "Sorry! I got a last-minute invite to yesterday's inauguration [Obama's 1st] so I travelled up to Washington. I'm on my way back now..." I wrote back explaining that, while I understood the historical importance of the event, the inauguration was open to the public, so a so-called "last-minute invite" wasn't a legitimate excuse for not making arrangements with me ahead of time, and besides, he easily could have travelled home once the inauguration was over and made it back the previous night with time to study--he was essentially coming back a day late.
He responded by saying he didn't "leave the dinner" until very late, because "it took so long for Obama to arrive." Turns out he didn't get a last minute invite to the inauguration, he got a last minute invite to one of the inaugural balls. He later showed me pictures of him and his father posing at the ball with Michelle Obama (and a few of the president from a not-very-far distance.) Result: He had to take a different, slightly more difficult, version of the exam, and I learned that his father was a very powerful man.
8/23 I was taking a class of 5th graders to the music room for the first time and was talking to the little brother of a superior student. When I had them all going in the right direction I saw the kid was at the end of the line wanting to talk more.
I told him you can't just change line positions, we have to keep moving forward. He swore up and down I was talking to his identical twin before. I did not believe him, until I got to the classroom and saw the twin.
It did explain why 5 years earlier at a school picnic that I kept seeing Luis' little brother going back for more and more hot dogs. How many hot dogs can this kid eat. Turns out it was 2 kids, and they could both eat a lot.
9/23 A (university) student confides in me that she's working as an escort. She then tells me that she's missed an essay deadline because one of her clients who showed an interest in her studies read her paper while they were in the hot tub - and he dropped it. With no access to a printer, she fails to meet the deadline. Internally I am torn between disbelief and the thought that nobody could come up with something like this if it wasn't true. I give her the benefit of the doubt, but relate the story to my SO. We have a chuckle over it - he doesn't buy it - and we forget about it.
Fast forward 18 months to two years later. My SO and I are out at a concert or a play (I forget which - but a kind of up-market event) and I spot my now ex-student. She is dressed in a total figure hugging dress (leaving nothing to the imagination), high heels, and the total makeup package. She is with a much older guy (in his late 50s, I guess) and blushes when she sees me. I introduce my SO, and she introduces me as her ex-tutor from university. After a bit of chit-chat he gives a laugh of recognition and says, "Was it your essay I dropped in the tub?"
I don't think I've doubted a student again...
10/23 Just today one of my students said their mother threw away their textbook and it turned out to be true.
11/23 That he missed class because he was dead. Turned out the student knew he had some kind of heart problem. In distress, he went to the ER, where his heart stopped, and thank goodness, they brought him back.
12/23 "Alex hasn't turned up to this lesson because during lunch he took some legal highs and a guy in the park punched him and he had to go to hospital."
He didn't turn up for another couple of weeks due to a broken jaw. It happened.
13/23 Was new at my college. Some random girl asked to take her bio final early because "I have to go play soccer in the Olympics". I was all, riiiiight, sure you do.
... damn if she didn't come home with a gold for the USA. Scored some critical goals, too. (She also aced her bio final)
14/23 I had one of my students on the day of the pig practical email me the morning of (I teach at 8 AM so it was pretty early) that he forgot that he was getting surgery that day so he would not be able to make it.
... it turns out that he actually did get surgery because he wore a cast for the rest of the semester.
15/23 I had one girl miss school because she said she was in the hospital all night with her brother who was shot. She had a doctors note and everything.
16/23 When I was student teaching a student handed me an assignment that was taped together, missing pieces and had spots that were dried and Not legible. He claimed it was literally eaten by his dog.
17/23 Working as a sub, handed a late slip with a vague reason on it. Questioned the grade six boy, he said he was stuck in handcuffs.
Turns out he'd been practising a magic trick for the upcoming school fete and couldn't find the key.
18/23 "My cousin was murdered at a club last weekend." -One of my old 6th graders (I taught in an urban New Jersey school).
It was true.
19/23 I had a kid forget an instrument because their parents car was impounded.
Turns out one parent had gotten drunk, was driving erratically with kids in the car. When police tried to pull him over, he ran and had to be stopped by spinning him. I cut the kid some slack. I asked the kid where it was, and he says that the police had it.
20/23 I was a TA teaching this freshman level history course, being on the other side of this really puts this stuff in perspective. I had a student who missed almost every class, I asked him why and he told me he was having medical issues. I told him I needed to see medical paperwork in order to excuse his absences (which is university policy), I was a little skeptical.
He shows up a week later with a packet of papers that basically said his kidneys were failing and he would need a transplant to live. I felt terrible looking at his personal medical information but if we didn't require paperwork everyone would miss class due to "illness".
21/23 A student once told me he was in jail. He brought me his bail bond paperwork. I let him take a make-up exam.
22/23 When I was a teaching assistant, this boy was gone for a week. Relative died. He came back for two days and left for even longer. It turned out two close relatives had died in that short time span. The teacher in charge didn't believe him because he didn't have a note nor did he look sad. Turned out to be true.
23/23 We had a family which was extremely on the borderline between sanity and insanity. Everything they did was farcical. For two days all three boys were missing from school. When they got back they told me that their home, a caravan, had been stolen as they slept and dumped near Heathrow airport over forty miles away. Just as I wondered what to say a policeman walked in and confirmed everything.