Thursday, May 21, 2009

Workplace Indignities

Perhaps you're like me and sometimes find yourself day dreaming of being flawlessly competent at work. I like to picture myself as that woman who strides into a room and can inspire, by virtue of her posture alone, respect and a little awe. Unflappable, dignified, self-assured -- the woman who needs only a tense moment of deliberation to conjure the right answer to any crisis.

Alas, I am not her. I am in a galaxy far, far away from her. I am the woman who hits the door jamb with her shoulder on the way into a room. I am that woman who breaks out in a sweat at the approach of conflict. When it comes to the workplace, I am a bumbling ball of moron tax. I am Don Knotts.

Here are a few instances:

1. I have a black dress that has a side zipper that begins just below my armpit and ends at my hip. Today, I wore that dress to work, but forgot to close the zipper. When I finally noticed and zipped it up, my manager commented, "Oh, I thought you had decided to wear a very daring dress today." Shudder.

2. When I was an intern at a law firm, I called one of the head partners at the firm to ask a simple question. The partner didn't answer, and I was directed to voicemail. I started to talk, but stuttered, so I pressed a button to scuttle and re-record my message. Instead, the button I pressed sent my garbled message as-is to the partner. The partner laughed at me a few weeks later.

3. At the end of a job interview, I walked over to the coatrack to put on my coat and retrieve my purse. Unbeknownst to me, the interviewer followed behind me to walk me out. When I swung my purse over my shoulder, I hit her with my the face.

4. I overflowed a toilet at work that I did not realize was malfunctioning. I don't need to say more. It was disgusting and horrifying.

5. One summer, I interned at a posh magazine company. Part of my duties was to relieve the receptionist during lunch; however, the phone was a complex machine with numerous lines and extensions and I had difficulty transferring calls to the right place. One day, my father called me at the office just as another call came in. I attempted to put my father on hold, but accidentally transferred him to the editor-in-chief. The editor-in-chief was a man of such reserved and imposing eminence that you wondered if there really could be a Priory of Sion. According to my father, the conversation went like this:

Scary Editor Guy: "Hello, this is Scary Editor Guy."
My dad: "Yah, where's Wendy? Can I talk to Wendy?"
Scary Editor Guy: "Excuse me, Sir. I'm afraid, I don't know to whom you are referring."
My dad: "My daughter? She's the one that works in your office for no pay."
Scary Editor Guy: "Sir, I don't understand."
My dad: "Hello, Wendy? Wendy?"

My dad assured me that he repeated my name several times to the editor. "Yah, sure, he knows your name now. You can thank your dad for that."


  1. Yes, you reminded me of that one call that I made to a new contact at that pharma company. I recall I was in the middle of leaving the most garbled bumbling voicemail message and muttered "this isn't working" just before I hit the "#" sign to "erase and rerecord" - a feature which I mistakenly believed to be offered by all voicemail systems. WRONG. I did follow up with an equally garbled voicemail message. Not surprisingly, I never got a return call. :(

  2. Wendy, love the new site. But you never did anything remotely like this while working for us/me. I suspect you are exagerating, but good stories anyway.

    I'll add this to my favorites. And cruise by often

  3. Thanks Scott! By the time I started working for you guys, I managed to get a little more smooth. Also, I must say that I benefited a lot from being in a satellite office several thousand miles away. It was harder for you to notice my bumbling moments :)