A young member of the working world sits at his desk, frantically looking from his desktop, his phone, and a few papers on the desk.
“Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.”
“Shit, wait, maybe… nope.”
*Starts sweating profusely*
“Hold on, it’s not that bad, if I just do this……oh, goddammit.”
“Since when is it 135 fucking degrees in here?”
*Exhales deeply, leans chair back, and runs hands through hair*
“Man. I fucked up.”
Your first fuck up in the working world is a doozy, to say the least. This isn’t a missed meeting. Not a slipped f-bomb in front of your company’s most religious customer. Not even referring to a coworker’s kid as a piece of shit with them in earshot.
This is a big time, shits-hitting-the-fan, call-in-backup, take-a-glance-at-what-your-resume-looks-like fuck up. The first time it happens, you’re shitting bricks and sweating like Kim Davis at a gay wedding. You’ve had plenty of slip ups in your life, but this is a slip & slide covered in Astroglide and sending you straight to workplace hell. I’ve been there, and if you haven’t, you will be.
Shitting the bed like this as an on-your-own adult is a completely different feeling, and makes one yearn for a mess up with the consequences you used to have. Take your parents’ car for an ill-advised underage joyride? Caught drinking in a situation you weren’t supposed to be drinking in? Dammit, I’d kill for an old school grounding.
And messing up at school? Holy shit, I’d give anything short of my son to only have the consequences of a school mess up. When you’re suffering through your personal Katrina at the office, you wonder why the hell you ever spent a sleepless night worrying over some unfinished project or paper. If an office mega-blunder was only punished by a loss of a letter grade, I’d be a much happier man than the sad sack of shit I am when there’s a workplace catastrophe.
Maybe you did something that’ll cost the company money. Probably a lot of money. Maybe you did something to screw over a big client, even worse. You’ve damaged your own reputation, and possibly your company’s. Perhaps you pulled a Pied Piper and deleted eons of extremely valuable and irreplaceable data. No matter the devastating infraction, you’re pissing your pants, and no one considers you Miles Davis.
The office you’re currently panicking in has always been a comfortable temperature, until now, when it feels like you’re standing on the fucking equator. While you’re only imagining the walls closing in on you, the feeling in your stomach urging you to release your lunch all over your desk is very real. The judgmental glances from your coworkers are coming in hot, and every bit of shame that’s pouring over you is well deserved.
One day, you’ll be a vet. Just like the difference between you as a freshman and you as a fifth-year senior, dealing with your surroundings, especially in a crisis, will be second nature. Experience can’t be bought, and if it could, after a massive fuck up any young worker would trade everything in their bank account to buy it. That knowledge will come with time, but right now, it’s gotten the hell out of Dodge.
Then there’s the great uncertainty. The worst thing about a fuck up is not knowing the best course of action to fix it. You’ll spend a night staring up at your ceiling as if your coworkers just found out you were a virgin because you’re heading directly into a morning of “I have no fucking clue what’s going on” damage control. You don’t know if things can be fixed, or if you’ll be facing the job hunt with the employability of a late-nineties O.J.
You’ll have to face the music. That phrase has always sounded peaceful to me for some reason, as music usually seems like a good thing. Not this music. This music is Fran Drescher and Pitbull singing “Lips Of An Angel.” Walking in to see your boss after a fuck up is like going to tell Kimbo Slice you slept with his wife.
Hopefully, what’s really going to happen is some damage control, a brief period of being uncomfortable, profuse apologies, and a definite swallowing of pride. It’s not a one day process; you’ll need to repair some bridges and work your reputation back up to the respectable level it was at. It’s not the end of the world, because everyone inevitably will make a mistake. Head into the office with confidence and your head held high, because you’re going to make it through your own momentary incompetence.
Also, maybe look at your resume, you know, just in case. .
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