Sam Wilson

Stuffing up at work

2005-11-17 10:15

On reading women24's readers' stories, I was struck by a number of things.

Firstly, klutziness is big. You have no idea how many of you have fallen down stairs, spilt coffee on your bosses, glued yourselves to things and generally broken lots of important office equipment.

I am hugely cheered by this. As a klutzy person myself, who has spent the last year in a job that required back-to-back presentations, in front of prospective clients, I have a lot of experience in this regard.

Mostly, I excel in setting up data projectors that don't project any data. (Anyone ever noticed how no-one ever refers to the data projector, but always the "fucking data projector"?)

I have, however, also dabbled in exploding photocopiers (tip: hairclips and black paint instead of toner), blowing up speakers (ridiculously easy to do) and using the binding machine to attach my cardigans to handouts, which then become impossible to hand out.

So, ja. I relate.

Getting drunk and mouthing off also featured prominently in your responses. God, do I know that feeling - you've had a few, and suddenly there is so much you just need to SHARE, isn't there?

I am particularly heartened by the story from Johannesburg, where an intrepid employee decided, after a number of martinis, to try to convince her boss, rather forcefully, to come out of the closet. In front of his wife. Way to go, babe.

And continuing in the sex vein, I am happy to report that almost a third of those who responded to our vote claim to have slept with a colleague. I am beyond impressed. And I think we have just figured out how all that office equipment got broken.

Then there are those of you who think you have embarrassed yourselves at work, when you actually haven't. Over-quoted on a job? Misfiled important documents? Fell asleep in a meeting? Please people, that's me on a GOOD day. Lower the bar already.

I remember the last time I fell asleep in a meeting. (Not the first, you understand, as it happens regularly.) My previous employers had taken me along for an industry conference in Johannesburg. It turned out to be indescribably dull.

'How did you find it?' my boss asked me afterwards.

'It was fabulous, I learnt so much,' I deadpanned, looking down in confusion at the bizarre doodles that constituted my notes.

My boss gave me a small smile.

'Intriguing,' he said. 'I am asking because, well, you do know you slept through most of the event? Leaning on my shoulder. Drooling. And, occasionally, snoring.'

I paused long enough for the flush to subside slightly.

'Okay, so it wasn't exactly gripping,' I admitted.

'It's okay,' consoled Boss. 'You have other skills. And in due course... I am sure we will find out what they are.'

Ouch, ouch, ouch.

  • Sam Wilson is the new Editor-in-Chief of women24. It's been two weeks, and she has yet to admit to stuffing up.

  • Click here to subscribe to Sam's weekly women24 newsletter.

  • Send your comments to Sam or discuss this column now in our debating forum.

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