You consider yourself the model employee and why wouldn’t you? Diligent, witty and a general delight to be around, you’ve got it all figured out. However, your perfect record will eventually be tarnished by one day of running late – off the top of your head, what’s your go-to excuse?

Whether you just slept through your alarm or got too wrapped up in that feature about miniature horses on the Breakfast Show, you’ve got to hot-foot it to your office prepared with an air-tight excuse. Most people rely on the classic public transport scapegoat but that’s always risky. If you work in a large office, someone who takes the same route as you might debunk your lie. Here are five bulletproof excuses for running late (when you have no excuse):

‘There was a family thing’
Using the phrase ‘family emergency’ tempts fate too much to be used in a fake excuse. A ‘family thing’ sounds messy and like something that would break the co-worker/personal boundary – especially early in the morning. Also, it can mean anything so you got plenty of options if the office’s resident sociopath has the gall to ask ‘what kind of thing?’.

‘I dropped my phone in the toilet’
A couple of years ago this wouldn’t have been a valid defence. However, phone damages coax sympathy like no other tragedy, namely because they happen so often. You’ve got to fish the device out of the, hopefully unused, bowl. Then stick it in rice for 15-30 minutes before attempting to resurrect the little black rectangle from its watery grave. It’s a hell of an ordeal and worthy of some slack.

‘My dentist appointment overran’
This excuse shows that you’re an employee with good intentions. Not only do you have the utmost respect for your teeth but you’re also decent enough to book a super-early appointment as not to miss work. Sure, the road to hell is paved with good intentions – but so is the road to work.

‘Am I?’
If in doubt, plead ignorance. To add some extra legitimacy to this flimsy excuse, pretend that your watch is running slow by tapping it with exasperation and comparing it with the office clock in disbelief. You really need to sell your performance; your managers will be a tough crowd.