Virtual Foot in Mouth

foot-in-mouthMy workplace is like many in its efforts to save money. No raises this year. No more funding for travel reimbursement. Nothing for professional development training. No money even to treat the guest of honor at going-away lunches. I’m OK with all this and have not grumbled once because we’re all “taking one for the team.”

Then, last Friday morning, I open my email and read a request to change the font size we use when printing documents: adjust to 10 pt., it says, so that we can save money by using less ink and paper.

Did I mention it’s Friday? At the end of a long week? And that I woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning? And that previously my request to take a month of unpaid leave (touted as a my way to help save money) had been rejected?

As I reread the email, I think, “You’ve got to be kidding me! A month’s worth of even my paltry salary would save more than a century’s worth of using 10 pt. font.”

Now, I’m in a snit. I cut and paste the offending email (because I know the risk and folly of simply hitting “forward”), punch in a new address and send it to Wise Hubby with the comment: “Really?!?!? Wouldn’t it be a whole lot easier to just give me a month of unpaid leave?”

An hour later, I check my email again. I blink twice. The email response with “Really?!?!?” in the subject line is not from Mike, but from my boss. Yes, I had inadvertently sent my snarky email to my boss, not my husband.

My Friday has taken a decided turn for the worse.

To my boss’s infinite credit, his response is perfect. It’s simply: “I get it.” (He must have gone through the advanced training course for dealing with grumpy and hormonal middle-age women.) However, his lack of defensiveness and acceptance of my unprofessional comment somehow make me feel even worse.

With my boss out of the office that day, I can’t walk into his office, look him in the eye and apologize. I must rely on a virtual apology for my virtual faux pas, so I craft an apologetic, mea culpa email.

And spend the rest of the day behind my closed office door trying to wrestle my size 10 (that’s shoe size, not font size) foot out of my mouth.


  • Sonja Says:
    7-28-2009 08:42:35

    Oh – I outdid Elaine in this vain recently. My boss and husband’s names both begin with Ma. I had just concluded a difficult meeting wherein my boss asked me to work an additional day a week for no additional pay. I shot off a long winded e-mail to what I thought was my husband providing him a full color commentary of the discussion, but instead, it went back to my boss. I thought I’d die.

  • Anne Says:
    7-28-2009 21:45:56

    Elaine – while I know you were dying, this is all really quite funny – the request, your reaction and your bosses. You’ll have to report on the face to face with your boss!

  • Cindy H Says:
    7-29-2009 18:31:00

    Elaine, I think we’ve all had our embarrassing foot-in-mouth moments! But the bottom line is, I agree with your premise. I read that the government is saving money now by printing on two sides of the paper. Maybe that would be more economical. And with the age of the population going up, I think it’s better to use at least 12-point type — not going in the opposite direction.

    Or we could take the somewhat tongue-in-cheek advice of Mark Twain who said we should edit ourselves by taking out every third word that we write!

  • Sharon Says:
    7-31-2009 21:49:02

    Elaine, this or something like it has happened to all of us at one time or another. It fits that it would occur at the end of a long, stressful week. The best advice I ever had about making an error is to sincerely apologize and then let it go. We all make mistakes, even bosses. I hope this week was a better one.

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