I should’ve been fired today. To start with, I woke up late because I’ve gotten in the habit of hitting the snooze button. My three-year-old is convinced that there’s monsters in her room, and likes to inform of us of their whereabouts every 2-3 hours throughout the night. This meant that I was five-snooze-buttons-tired, rather than my usual two-snooze-buttons-tired, which meant that I didn’t have time to shower. And since none of my work-appropriate clothes seem to fit anymore, I went to work in yoga pants, an old t-shirt, and my hair in a bun.
Our employee dress code is somewhat lax, but even I admit that this was taking it a bit far.
When I got to the office, my clients were already there waiting for me, all bright-eyed and bushy tailed, and I realized that I didn’t have anything ready for them. I had planned to do some prep work for our meeting the night before, but I was too tired to do anything except lay on the couch and watch whatever PBS Kids show happened to be on. Fortunately, they didn’t seem to notice my greasy hair and ill-fitting clothes or my lack of preparedness. They were very understanding and quietly ate their breakfast while I scrambled to get something ready for them.
I decided to focus on the part of their portfolio that emphasizes collaboration.
I presented them with a variety of wooden 3D shapes and asked them to work together to construct a small-scale model of our office while I worked on expense reports. I observed them while I wrote checks, and quickly noticed that while they had the same end goal in mind, they vehemently disagreed on resource distribution. It was at this point that I should have taken the time to remind them of the collaborative techniques we have discussed previously at length, but instead I drank my coffee and ignored them. When they started throwing the 3D objects across the room, I decided it was time for a paradigm shift. So we tabled collaborative techniques and focused on individual core values – on opposite sides of the room.
Before I knew it, it was time for me to provide lunch for my clients, which, much to my dismay, has become a daily task. Once again, I was caught unprepared.
Luckily I found some quinoa pasta in the pantry and a bag of peas in the freezer. While I will admit this may not have been a gourmet lunch, the way they turned up their noses when I set down their plates was just rude. The smaller one took a few tentative bites, but the older one sat there for ten minutes and just pushed the food around on her plate. She then had the nerve to ask if she could have a cookie instead! I know it’s important to remain calm and professional in the workplace, but I’m ashamed to say that I raised my voice to the very people in charge of securing my employment.
Fortunately, after lunch my clients usually take a break so they can strategize about best practices and how to move the needle, which means we all had time to cool off. I should have prepared for tomorrow’s meetings, but instead, I hid in the supply closet and stared at my phone for over an hour.
Just add it to the list of reasons I should have been fired.
Before I knew it, one of them was calling for me and asking questions regarding our bathroom procedures, which I know I’ve explained several times before. While I once again went over the appropriate way to use the bathroom, my other client requested that I help her get her ducks in a row. (She literally had five rubber ducks that needed to be put in a row.) I assisted her with this task and then noticed that the other one was being suspiciously quiet and taking quite a long time to relieve herself. I soon realized why: the bathroom was covered in toilet paper and what I hoped was just water. And there she was in the tub, squeezing strawberry toothpaste in her mouth straight from the tube. It was then that I broke the cardinal rule of every workplace: I cried big heaving sobs in front of my clients.
Fortunately, it was around this time that my coworker arrived at the office. He took one look at my tear-stained face and calmly led me to our boardroom where I was able to collect myself while he took over the meeting with our clients. Later that night when he asked me to review what I had accomplished earlier in the day, I couldn’t think of a single corporate goal that had been achieved. I began to seriously worry about my end of year review and job security.
“Do you think I’ll be fired?” I asked him. “I should totally be fired.”
“Don’t be so hard on yourself,” he answered. “This has been our toughest assignment yet. Plus, our clients won’t remember any of this in a few years. I’m sure tomorrow you’ll hit the ground running.”