August 2013: Working class boos

For many, August means ‘back-to-school’ time.

It doesn’t for me, however, and that’s not what I’m writing about anyway. For there is an adult version of this as well, one that is not tied to a month or even anything at all, really. That heady time of uncertainty that comes with finding a new job, and going ‘back-to-work’.

Applying for a job, interviewing for a job, and getting hired for the job are really only half the battle, isn’t it? Because now the new hire still has to show up for the first day on the job, and quickly and readily make it overly apparent that hiring them was not a mistake.

And this can be where things fall apart, no matter how good the new hire’s intentions may be.

Obviously, I’ve had my share of these.

On my first day at one job, the women training me made sure to not only repeatedly tell me that the day was her birthday, but that in addition to cake, she was expecting a stripper to show up as well.

By late afternoon, I was getting tired of hearing of this, as well as watching her obviously growing disappointment. (Birthdays are meant to be special, right? They can’t all be cow surgery and moldy cake.) The next time she mentioned it was her birthday and how surprised she was that a stripper hadn’t shown up yet, I sighed, pushed my chair back from the computer, stood up and said to her, “You know, it was supposed to be a surprise, but … I’m the stripper.” And I began to remove my shirt.

I was the only male in the office. The birthday girl’s eyes got very big, either from surprise, horror, or both; another coworker screamed; and yet another began to laugh after a period of shocked silence.

And I was only on my second button. And decided that was far enough, fervently trying to explain the joke to the birthday girl and hoping not to get fired. Luckily, I was not, and she spoke of the incident frequently during my remaining employment there. (Usually in a hushed whisper behind her hand when she didn’t think I could see or hear her.)

Equally luckily was that my career was not tripped up by yet another example of something that I found humorous when no one else did.

I don’t always have such things happen as a result of my own actions. Well, as a result of my own chosen actions. Well, I mean, I still chose the action, but …

I broke a toilet seat.

By sitting on it.

This was at another job, also during the early days of my employment there. I had simply walked into the single bathroom, sat down, and was about halfway through my, er, reflection time when I heard a sudden crack and I was suddenly sitting about half an inch lower than before. While that doesn’t sound like much, nor was the length of time of my descent very great, it certainly seemed much longer and further while it was occurring.

Upon inspection, the toilet seat was crack nigh perfectly in half, halfway back.

How exactly was I to explain this to my new boss?

In the end (snicker) I wrapped myself in what shreds of dignity I could muster, left the bathroom and calmly, regally walked up to her and told her what had happened.

She didn’t believe me. So I had to show her.

Mortifying as that experience had been, I ended up working there for eight years, even managing to break the toilet once more during that period (this time, it was the tank lid, thankfully.) (But is there really any part of a toilet that is good to break at work?)

Sometimes, I haven’t been able to wait until my first day at work to make my faux paus. And as much as I’d like to say that such mishaps are a thing of the past as I grow older … that simply is not the case, as I discovered during a recent job interview.

My interview was the first one that day, at 8 a.m., and I was ushered into the interviewer’s cubicle to wait while he prepared.

Obviously a sports fan, the man’s cubicle was filled with various memorabilia. His favorite team’s logo was everywhere. So, I really shouldn’t have been surprised that when he finally came to take me to the interview room that I would manage to knock a signed and framed team photo off the wall behind me when I stood up.

I think I’d prefer breaking a toilet seat any day.

My hopes for landing this job sunk even faster than the picture sliding down my back towards the floor. I was unexpectedly saved when the woman working in the cubicle opposite stopped my interviewer and asked him a question. As he turned away, I felt the heavy picture come to a stop on the padded seat of my chair. Quickly I picked up the framed photo and re-hung it on the wall with no one (I hope) the wiser and no damage done.

(Although I probably could have used some ‘reflection time’ afterwards, considering the fright of what I had done nearly caused a completely different accident to occur.)

As it was, the interview ended up going very well, and I was offered the job.

Which I accepted.

Now, to just get through those first few days of work without some untoward incident …

I should be so lucky.

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4 comments
  1. kateorman said:

    The stripper story is a riot (but what is “cow surgery”?)

    I myself have broken a printer and filled a laboratory with toxic gas. Each time it was only my second day, and each time it was an accurate bad omen.

    • Figures. I could have sworn I wrote about my eighteenth birthday at one point … where I didn’t mention anything to my parents to see if they would remember (they didn’t, and my mom cried about it, so I felt worse than they did!) Just before going in the house that evening for my birthday cake (which she picked up from a local grocery store on her way home from work), we discovered one of the dairy cows suffering from twisted stomach, so the vet was called and the family helped him operate on the poor cow to fix the problem. It was close to 10 pm by the time we finally got to eat the cake … I got the first piece, as it was my birthday, only to discover that it was moldy!

      • The cow survived, by the way. So there was an upside.

  2. kateorman said:

    My kid sister was born on my fifteen birthday. I am not now certain whether I actually did eat the whole birthday cake out of boredom / revenge / whatever, or if that was only a running joke.

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