I’ve been reading this blog for several years and finally decided to share my story. It happened quite a few years ago but I can remember the embarrassment like it was yesterday.
A little background is needed. I was just eighteen at this time and in my first job that was not retail. This was a simple administrative assistant job in a small office that only included 8 people total. The only person that had their own office was our boss, who I’ll refer to as Rita, and the receptionist/greeter was up front. Everyone else had a desk in one large open room that didn’t even include cubicle walls which meant quite a lot of socializing went on throughout the day since we were all sitting relatively close together in this one room.
My neighbor was a lady I’ll call Lisa who chatted non-stop about how hard it was to single parent her then thirteen-year-old daughter. She was extremely loud and opinionated and was also quite raunchy. She delighted in sending perverted emails to everyone in the office which they all found hilarious and I found rather disgusting and inappropriate. Now, I am a very introverted person, and was a lot worse then since I was the only person under 40 working there. I literally had nothing in common with these ladies and Lisa was very extroverted so I had quite a hard time fitting in at my new job. I’m very soft spoken and Lisa often assumed I was being snobbish when, in reality, I was just painfully shy.
Fast forward a couple of weeks later and I’ve managed to throw off some of my new girl jitters and was telling jokes with the other ladies in the office in an effort to build some rapport with my fellow employees (yes every employee was female!). I had my back to the hallway that led to my boss, Rita’s, office (this is important) and someone mentioned spending time in another state. I decided it would be hilarious to share with the room that all my friends thought everyone who lived in that particular state were quite stupid and backward. Yes, it was a very immature and inappropriate thing to say even in jest at work, but I can only say I was young and extremely thoughtless and I wanted my coworkers to like me very badly!
Just as the last words were leaving my mouth I saw Lisa’s eyes dart to the hallway behind me and her face froze into a look of horror. Everything seemed to slow down as I turned my head to look behind me to see Rita standing there with the frostiest look I’ve ever seen on a person. She looked me straight in the eye and said “I’m from [state] born and raised.” I was shocked and fervently wishing for the floor to swallow me up as I rushed to apologize profusely to Rita. I was so ashamed and I can feel my face burn a little even today and this was 20 years ago! Luckily for me in the middle of my rushed apologies she burst into a smile and said “It’s ok you think that way. I hated that place and I was so glad I got away!” She then went on to tell me about how she grew up extremely impoverished. I was so relieved I hadn’t offended her! She had every right to send me to ehell right then and there!
Needless to say since I’ve grown older I’ve learned my lesson about making offensive jokes just to fit in! 1112-12