It’s Monday, the first day back to work after what was a holiday weekend for many. And it often seems just a little more difficult to start the work day on a Monday compared with any other day of the week.

But if your brain is up to it, I have a question for you: What do a dog, false eyelashes and hot coffee have in common?

Ready? All figured into employee excuses for tardiness that reportedly confronted employers participating in a recent CareerBuilder survey.

Some of the more … original, shall we say … reasons given for being late, according to the companies:

  • “My dog ate my work schedule.”
  • “My fake eyelashes were stuck together.”
  • “My coffee was too hot, and I couldn’t leave until it cooled off.”

And some of the more outlandish ones:

  • “An astrologer warned me of a car accident on a major highway, so I took all backroads, making me an hour late.”
  • “Although it has been five years, I forgot I did not work at my former employer’s location and drove there by accident.”
  • “I had morning sickness”— said a man.

The Harris Poll conducted the online survey on behalf of CareerBuilder among 1,014 hiring and human resource managers and 809 employees (all full-time and aged 18 or more years) between Nov. 28 and Dec. 20, 2017. Results were released in late March.

The aforementioned reasons stand out to us because they’re uncommon, but most employees have more typical excuses for being late, according to the survey results: traffic (51%), oversleeping (31%), bad weather (28%), too tired to get out of bed (23%) or forgetting something (13%).

Overall, 25% of workers participating in the survey said they arrive late to work at least once a month, and 12% said they do it every week. By contrast, 60% of employers said they expect employees to be on time every day, and 43% said they have fired someone for being late.

The survey found regional variances in employee lateness — and employer reaction to the behavior.

Workers in the West were most likely to be late at least once a month; 30% of workers there were late at that frequency, compared with 26% in the Northeast, 25% in the South and 23% in the Midwest. (No good-behavior pressure on those of us at McKnight’s, who work in the Midwest.)

Employers in the South were most likely to fire workers for being late; 48% of employers from that region said they had done so, followed by those in the Midwest (45%), West (42%) and Northeast (38%). (Again, no pressure.)

So if a staff member says she’s tardy because her dog ate her work schedule, you can take comfort in knowing that you’re not the first manager to hear that excuse. But if the employee says that dog wears false eyelashes and drinks hot coffee, you may want to sign up to participate in CareerBuilder’s next survey. And encourage the employee to get an agent for her pet.

Lois A. Bowers is senior editor of McKnight’s Senior Living. Follow her on Twitter at @Lois_Bowers. Email her at