All month long, we're blogging about fools (as in April!). I thought I'd share one of the hilarious things that happened to me at work once.
This happened quite a few years ago. I'd just started a new job, after leaving my previous employer because my boss was a colossal jerk who'd made my life a living hell for a solid year because he heard a rumor that I was interested in him ( I was not) and he wanted to "address it."
(The fact that he addressed it in a way that hurt me while establishing him as completely innocent is why I left that job.)
After I left, I obsessively replayed every interaction I had with this man, trying to see how that rumor got started. He told me it was my flirting, which gave me pause because I don't flirt with my coworkers. He gave me specific examples and that's when it hit me. When you work with groups of men, you learn to take their frequently inappropriate attempts at humor with a grain of salt. You also learn to give it back just as inappriopriately. Every time I engaged, he interpreted that as flirting.
Apparently, so did many others.
So, I entered this period of second guessing everything I did, said, or laughed at. When I began the new job, one of the first tasks I was given was to write an instruction guide for software that inspects solder balls on the bottom of computer chips. It was called Partial Ball Detection Software. (Very original, no?)
I worked on this project for about two weeks and was invited to a progress meeting with my immediate supervisor (female), the instructor who'd be teaching a class using the guide I was writing (female), and the head of development (male). I sat in the conference room with my pristine print out of the instruction guide, pens in two different colors to record feedback and make improvements, waiting for the head of development to arrive. My supervisor was happy with the document and so was the instructor so I was confident I'd done a good job.
After about five minutes of waiting, the head of development strode into the room and said, "Ladies, how are you all doing with my balls?"
Inappropriate? Completely. Hysterically funny? Oh, yes.
My supervisor burst into laughter. The instructor burst into laughter.
I'm sure you're dying to know how I responded, aren't you? Well, after spending a year in hell following Colossal Jerk's treatment of me, I sat there, paralyzed for about a minute. And then I stood up, fled to the ladies room where I dissolved into giggles so powerful, I got hiccups and had to repair my makeup. By the time I got back to the conference room, everyone was gone.
My supervisor handed me the document I'd left behind. She said the head of development loved my work and wanted to see me.
I timidly entered his office where he escorted me to a seat and then delivered the most serious and heartfelt apology I'd ever received. I kept trying to let him off the hook and admitted I laughed like a loon in the ladies room, but to no avail.
From that day forward, I was called Saint Patty. No one ever made another joke in front of me again.