Thursday, June 24, 2010

On soda-snot and other awkward moments

I'll admit it.  I've never actually experienced soda-snot.  Or milk-snot, for that matter.  Things do not go in my mouth and out my nose (other than air).  But I have experienced the mid-gulp cough, the burpy-sounding hiccup, and a slew of other potentially embarrassing work moments.  Of all the places for any of these things to happen, the office is about the worst (on the podium at a presentation or in a wedding party probably rank pretty high up there, too).  But happen they will and happen they do.

Let's take my most recent example, the inspiration for this post.  I was in a team meeting, sitting at the little meeting table in the center of the room.  My boss and her officemate were in their office chairs in front of their computers in the corner, and the last coworker was leaning back away from the desk. Always with my trusty cup of tea at my side, I take a drink during a bit of silence.  A tiny drop tickles my trachea...

And I proceed to cough the entire mouthful of tea all over the table.  And my notes.  And a little bit onto my boss's notes.

Gross city, right?  I was mortified.  Not only did I disrupt an otherwise productive meeting, I just spewed my spit all over my boss's stuff.  Eww eww eww.

So maybe you haven't experienced a moment like that. Maybe it was smaller, maybe it was bigger.  With all things, it will probably be forgotten in a matter of time, but how you recover in the moment can say a lot about you.  Do you freak out and make a scene?  Do you explode with anxiety?  While initial shock is normal, a quick and scene-less recuperation from an awkward moment can speak volumes about your ability to handle anything that comes your way.

There are also always those little things that aren't forgotten, and become office banter for colleagues as you work together longer.  Depending on the person, you may not mind, but if you do, just think of it this way, however twisted it might be: they like you enough to remember something you did and are comfortable enough with you to joke about it later on.

Luckily for me in my moment of need, my boss just happened to have a pile of napkins on her desk leftover from lunch.  I patted off her papers first and then mine, and wiped up the rest of the table.  We laughed it off a bit and moved the meeting along.  And everyone forgot about it (well, except for me, apparently).

What is your most embarrassing work moment and how did you deal with it?

Photo credit


  1. LOL sorry that was a funny story despite I'm sure being completely mortifying at the time!!

    My embarrassing work moment probably came last year when after having a slew of weird illnesses in a short period of time, I came down with some virus that caused me to break out in a non-contagious rash for a week, and a few of my fingers swelled up to the point that I had to go home from work because it hurt to type. I just FELL APART that day and started crying after someone asked me if I was OK, and basically made a fool out of myself being a whiny, sicky, complainy person that I normally am not. I came back the next day and apologized to anyone who saw me act like that, and now I know that when I get to that point of frustration, I just need to go home before I freak out in front of everyone. lol.

  2. @ Sara - yikes! That is also a fear of mine (another near-embarrassing moment of mine: I nearly broke down in tears because my cheese was thrown away in a break-room fridge cleanout). I've also had a rash-like experience at work: a spider bite -- which I'm allergic to like crazy -- got infected (double doozy) and I had to go to urgent care and was actually home sick for a few days recovering. I guess I have a lot of weird stories...I've tried to learn from them though. I don't leave cheese at work and I don't ride the bus anymore (where I got the infected spider bite).

  3. On my second day of work, I was walking into my boss's office to ask her a question. I tripped over nothing (as usual) and began to fly forward. I put my hands out and caught her desk. I basically landed sprawled across her desk with my face about 12 inches from hers. She was stunned and simply said, "well hello." I stood up and said, "I'll be right back." I tried again later with more success. :)

  4. @ sawtoothtye - wow...that is an awesome recovery. I think I would have turned red and started rambling!


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