Excuse pre-loader

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The footballer who shows up with a “slight hamstring strain”; the worker who is locked in a daily battle with her childcare or who is regularly snookered by the same train timetable that others manage without fuss; the holder of confidential information who claims that contractual damages might not be an adequate remedy — each of these is an excuse pre-loader.

Excuse pre-loading is the subtle management of expectations by explaining, before something goes wrong, the extenuating circumstances which make the regrettable turn of events inevitable, if that turns out to be the way the events turn, which it will.

While these “extenuating circumstances” will never include one’s own practical uselessness, at a greater level of abstraction excuse pre-loading speaks to, and from, a deep well of insecurity from which the drone of the intuition that one is really a bit hopeless, booms and echoes.

In their heart of hearts, these people know. You do, too. You will know them instinctively. You recognise them in your mammalian brain, well before the conscious thought flickers. But as surely as you know it, you know that HR won’t let you touch them.