Define "Yesterday"

I got this from a reader I sometimes correspond with. Her own observations are so good I have nothing to add to it -- I indeed find it "sadly humorous"....

- - -

I thought you would find this sadly humorous.

When I was a child, my mother used to pin my absent notes to my coat. By the time I got into high school, she used to leave a stack of absent notes on the desk, pre-written with all but the date:

"To whom it may concern, please excuse my child's absence yesterday, as they were sick." (Having both a son and a daughter, she couldn't use 'he' or 'she'.)

As an adult with my own children in school, this is much the same form letter I use when my kids are absent from school. I have one in 2nd grade, one in 9th grade, and one in 12th grade. Recently, my 9th grader was home sick. Yes, of course, she has been home sick many many days in the past, and I have always written the same note. I might add here that it is the same note I wrote for her sister, who has attended this same high school for the last 4 years. With the current date in the upper right corner, my note reads "Please excuse (child's name) for being absent yesterday, she was sick". I got a note back to include the date of the absence in my note, and to please rewrite it.


I looked, and the current date was in the upper right, and the note said "absent yesterday". I was, and still am, confused. 'Yesterday', when used in reference to a specific date, can only mean one thing. It isn't as if I said "last week sometime".

So I rewrote the note as follows:

March 2nd, 2007

Please excuse (child's name) for being absent on what is now two days ago, or Wednesday, February Twenty Eighth, Two Thousand Seven; Gregorian Calendar,; tzolkin = 13 Caban; haab = 10 Kayab; Mayan Calendar, 10 Ventôse an 215 de la Révolution; French Calendar, 10 Safar 1428; Islamic Calendar, 10 Adar 5767 Hebrew Calendar, 15 February 2007; Julian Calendar, Day 3 of week 9 of 2007; ISO Calendar, 9 Esfand 1385; Persian Calendar, 21 Yakatit 1999; Ethiopic Calendar, 21 Amshir 1723; Coptic Calendar, Cycle 78, year 24 (Ding-Hai), month 1 (Ren-Yin), day 11 (Gui-Si); Chinese Calendar, Julian Day 2454160; the 59th day of the year 2007, with 306 days remaining; and Prickle-Prickle, Chaos 59, Year of Our Lady of Discord 3173; by the Discordian Calendar. She was sick.

That, they accepted.

Oddly enough, the elementary school had no problems comprehending the meaning of "yesterday" when the 2nd grader was out sick.

Sharon Murphy

(Reprinted on Jumbo Joke with permission.)

Posted March 12, 2007

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