There are not a lot of how-to guides I feel equipped to write, but when it comes to embarrassing yourself in the workplace, I am sadly a bit of an expert.
You see, I’ve been on a bit of a hot streak lately.
Credit Image: shaz wildcat on Flickr
It all started when I was moved into a new position working under a new director. He dropped by my desk to let me know he was ready to meet with me, and when I followed him up the stairs to his office he asked, “Do you have your swipe card?” (to let us in to the secured floor).
“Oh, did you forget yours?” I chirped conversationally.
“Oh no, it’s just in my back pocket.”
He indicated his full hands, by way of explanation.
Every inch the keen new underling, I immediately responded with, “I can help with that!”
He tilted his head quizzically, and I realized what I’d just said.
Instead of giving him the opportunity to politely ignore my apparent offer to touch his butt, I immediately sputtered an “explanation.”
“I mean … with the card! I can help with the card. Ha ha … Not your pocket … That’d be weird … ”
The silence followed us the rest of the way to his office.
I figured that would be my snafu of the week, but alas, it was not to be.
In less than 24 hours I was back at it, this time in an interdepartmental meeting. Read: A much larger audience.
It was a bit of a tense meeting led by a new manager, and the subject matter was fairly dry. So, basically the conditions were perfect for making an ass of oneself.
We were divided into groups to brainstorm and then asked to have a group representative share our ideas. Basic stuff. My group chose me. No problem.
At least until I opened my mouth.
I went through our first two focus areas, in a perfectly professional manner, taking care to speak clearly and project for the cheap seats.
Then I got to the third focus area: Service Experience.
Great. No problem.
Except that what came out of my mouth, clear as a goddamned bell, were the words, “cervix experience.”
And again, never one to give myself a freaking break, instead of just moving on swiftly and hoping folks would just assume they misheard, I stopped short.
“Nope. Not cervix experience. SERVICE EXPERIENCE,” I helpfully clarified while feeling a flush creep up and a full-body sheen of sweat break out.
A few brave souls held it together (or maybe they really didn’t catch the difference between service and cervix) but a good 50% of the room just lost it.
I thought we were going to have to take a couple of them to hospital when I read on to items like “don’t want to be bumped around too much” and “might require some hand-holding,” both of which seemed suddenly hilarious in the wake of my little gaffe.
And we all fell apart again when another group’s first listed item was “fast and easy”
All of us except the new manager who was running the meeting, that is.
On the upside, a number of colleagues informed me that was by far the most enjoyable part of the meeting, including one who thanked me for the laugh and then asked,
“Oh, and did I hear you offer to help your new boss with his back pocket yesterday?”
I guess that thing where you just wait for someone else to embarrass themselves to take some of the heat off you only works if you don’t just continue to make a mockery of yourself on a daily basis.
Originally posted on Metamorphocity
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