Tonoli Talk: ‘I’m Sorry, I Got Another Flat Tire’

Column Teaser
Photo Courtesy of Amanda Tonoli.

“A wasp bit my hand and I ran a red light and got into a car accident.” That was the excuse I heard when a fellow classmate waltzed into class 45 minutes late, the second day of class.

I leaned over speculatively — amidst my long list of other compulsions, I am also late for everything — and asked, “Is any of that actually true?”

Shockingly, it was. As I pray to whomever may be listening that none of my professors, family, friends andgeneral acquaintances read this column, I must admit that I have a tendency for fabricating certain details of my “excuses” for being late.

When it comes to being late, I take up a temporary gig as quite the storyteller and, most of the time, these stories are not nonfiction.

The amount of times I’ve had a flat tire, gotten pulled over, gotten a ticket, had my power go out so my alarm didn’t go off or gotten stuck in traffic on the way to class or work has gotten out of hand. I can probably count on one hand the amount of times any of the excuses I have given that have actually been truthful. One time I even used the excuse that my grandmother had passed away … they just didn’t have to know it was about 10 years ago. I feel like if it happened at least once, it is a valid excuse for every time I’m running late — no one asked when any of my excuses occurred.

I once spent an entire semester being at least 20 minutes late to an 8 a.m. class. Midway through the semester I gave up giving my teacher excuses and he just accepted that I would be there eventually — however he retaliated via my final grade.

Often I wonder though, is there a psychology behind lying because we are late?

In “Hide and Seek: Understanding self-deception, self sabotage and more,” published in June at, Neel Burton said that being late constantly is when the people around you “start getting annoyed.”

People become annoyed because it is seen as a lack of respect for them — especially those that are your authority figures. The message being late sends, Burton continues, is that your time is more valuable than other’s.

And perpetual lateness certainly does not go without consequences. As mentioned, I have felt the wrath of a number of professors. Also, like in the case of 57-year-old Jim Dunbar, many people have been fired from a handful of jobs for their continuous tardiness.

Luckily, we happy few now have an actual excuse. We all simply have a disease, as described in Finally, an excuse for being late! Man, 57 who misses every appointment he makes is diagnosed with a medical condition — ‘CHRONIC LATENESS’,” published in August 2013, by Rachel Reilly, by

Dunbar looked into the actual medical reasoning behind his compulsive lateness, Reilly said. After Dunbar, of course, showed up late to his medical health appointment, he was diagnosed with “chronic lateness” — a condition that is thought to originate from the same part of the brain that affects people with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

“In fact, many ADHD sufferers complain they struggle to keep time,” Reilly said. “Some psychologists believe that chronic lateness could be a symptom of an underlying mood disorder such as depression.”

Neel Burton also looks into a different cause for compulsive lateness. He asks for those who have a problem with being on time to look deep into themselves and ask, what is the exact reason? Is it psychological?

“Often, we keep ourselves as busy as possible so as not to be left alone with our deepest thoughts and feelings, which is, of course, highly counterproductive in the short-, medium- and long-term,” Burton said. “And this is another reason for being late: to avoid being left with no one and nothing but ourselves.”

I know it probably sounds a little convenient to pull out a disease to blame for my problems with time, like how so many seem to think they have ADHD because they daydream a bit during class, but, in my defense, I am running out of other excuses.

So I, for one, would officially and on the record like to blame my lateness on my undeclared medical condition. I’m getting a written excuse for my “chronic lateness,” so I no longer fear having my grade dropped for my 20 minutes past the start of class show-up time.