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Many Moons ago I had a sales organization and we sold motivational books on record including a portable player. It was fun and profitable

Luther T. Toliver was a below average salesman and had an excuse for everything he did or did not do.  People would attend our meetings just to hear his latest excuse. His excuses were complex, creative and well crafted. He was a master of excuse presentation. Here are several of my favorites.

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“You all know my beloved spouse, Ima Jean. Well, she put near but not plumb had pneumonia, but the intern doctor gave her a subscription and it turned out to be a runny nose”. You must admit this is an unusual excuse for being late.

“Luther Jr. would have made a touchdown, but nearly had a compounding fragment of his kicking leg when he dropped that ball, because it was tossed flappity by that skinny kid who is of short height”. That is one complicated convoluted excuse for being late.

Luther had an extremely effective way of presenting his excuses. He was always fifteen minutes late, knocking loudly on the door as he entered, and saying in a loud clear oratorical voice “You will never guess what happened this time” as he walked to the front of the room, blocking their view of me.


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I was exactly fifteen minutes into my motivational talk when there is a loud knock as the swinging door swings inward, and the deep clear voice says, “You will never guess what happened this time”. I am being upstaged by a pro and right then Luther gave the perfect excuse.


There is dead silence. We did not know if this was Aunt Bessy’s only cow, or if it broke a long line of cattle in the cow Kingdom.  We were not up to speed on Aunt Bessy’s emotional state. We were at a loss for words. Luther had given the perfect excuse.

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I have three daughter who were teenagers. That night we set a rule. From this day, evermore there is only one excuse that is allowable and legal. “My Aunt Bessy’s cow died.”  That was 45 years ago and it is still a family rule.

This rule has been repeated in over a hundred Time Management seminars throughout the country. To this day there are people who only use one excuse- MY AUNT BESSIE’S COW DIED.

An excuse is a big fat fib. When you and I commit to something and do not do it  we are a Big Fat Fibber.

Here is what to do. When you see the person you fibbed to, stand face to face, have a serious look, take a deep breath  and slowly, firmly say,” You will never guess what happened this time?  Pause two seconds, look them in the eye and say firmly “My Aunt Bessy’s Cow Died”.

Now comes the fun part. Look at the expression on their face for exactly 3 seconds, turn swiftly and the go do what you were supposed to do.

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At first, the perfect excuse is allowed once a day, then once a week, then once a month, then once a quarter, then once a year.