Working for a major arts festival in Australia I spent two festival seasons managing all the casual crew. There was over one hundred of them going to 30+ venues. In general, they all turned up on time, where they were meant to be. Tick. Job done.
But on occasion, I would get some very interesting phone calls, emails and texts about why someone didn’t turn up for a shift.
Sometimes it came from the crew member directly and sometimes it came secondhand from the supervisor at the venue. It has made me pull my hair out a few times but most of the time it makes me laugh in sheer ridiculousness.
Here are just a few excuses from my crew that tickled my fancy over the time.
Explanation Number One
“Medically rolled under (?) the (?) seat’ ’rolled unfit by medical grounds” – voice mail converted to text message
Explanation Number Two
“Brick wall fell on my foot and it is broken so on crutches for all of the festival”
Explanation Number Three
“I was supposed to be working 10 pm-2 am tonight but fell asleep at 4 pm but set my alarm for 7 pm. I’ve just woken up now. I sincerely apologise, don’t know how it happened.”
Explanation Number Four
“I went to the beach yesterday and I fell asleep and I got sunburned. My whole stomach is red, I don’t think I should come to work today”
On a serious note, I did have a very excited staff member who was due for a shift on a public holiday and he didn’t turn up. We tried ringing him and he didn’t answer. He didn’t answer for a few days afterwards. We were slightly concerned and not sure where he had ended up.
Unfortunately for him, he had been on his bicycle on his way to the shift and had been hit by a car and ended up in hospital.
He was bruised and battered. The car had destroyed his phone and he couldn’t call us to say where he was. Makes you think twice when you wonder where someone is and if they have actually been run over by a bus.
On another gig.
An administration assistant was working for me. He called me to say he had received a concussion from playing soccer and was calling in sick for the day. That was fine.
The next day we didn’t hear from him. At the end of that day we called him several times and he didn’t answer. Concerned, we found out the number of his mother and gave her a call. Maybe his concussion had gotten worse and he was home alone.
His mother was overseas. We were able to contact his sister. Now we had contact with someone who could check on him. The next day he calls us. He was OK. He was not OK that we called his mother and stressed her out. Turns out he didn’t really want to work for us anymore and had decided to not turn up.
Cross his name off the list. Forever.
My all-time favourite reason for not coming to work goes to the English backpacker. He worked some shifts for me on a festival. He called me the night before an early morning shift to tell me he couldn’t come to work. I was told he just got a really good deal on flights to Bali. He would be flying there in the morning with his mates for 2 weeks. Oh, but he would give me a call when he got back to see if there were any shifts available.
I don’t think so.
We never saw him again.
Also by Alycia Stanley: