Worst Day of Work. Ever.


There were days when I thought that my job as a Human Resources professional was unbearable and tedious. Those were the days when I fantasized about my perfect job:

Working with animals, snuggling with kittens, and playing with little puppies.

I envisioned a life of unrequited love, happy adoptions, and sloppy-wet kisses.

I am living my dream, right now, with six orphan kittens. It doesn’t seem very punk rock, but the experience is awesome. There are times when I’m sleep-deprived, though, and I romanticize the days when I talked about policy compliance issues and coached managers through progressive disciplinary plans.

Actually, I woke up this morning and longed for my cushy job and super-cushy schedule. I slept for four hours, last night, and then I woke up at 6:00 AM to bottle-feed six kittens. Then I went to Target and bought a bottle of mineral oil and a box of baby suppositories because I have three constipated kittens.

That’s right. Kittens get constipated. Who knew?

Although I had to ask a Target employee to help me find baby laxatives (hint: in the adult aisle), the day was immeasurably better than my most awkward day at work.

It was 1997, I was a newly minted recruiter, and I shared an office with my supervisor. We had two desks and three, very large filing cabinets jammed into a room that was a former storage closet. The best thing about that office was its view of the courtyard: although my window faced other offices, I was able to see sunlight and trees.

On the most awkward day of my professional career, the skies were dark. I’m not sure if it was raining, but the overcast sky removed the privacy glare from the office windows. The lack of sun allowed me to see into the offices across the courtyard. It was lunchtime, and most offices were vacant. My manager and I were thinking about lunch, as well, when I happened to notice a man sitting on his desk in an office to my left. This man was the Executive Director of my client group. It was strange to me to see a grown man sitting on a desk. I looked again and noticed that the blinds in his office were closed — but not closed enough.

Then I watched his secretary enter the room, close the door, and hoist herself onto the Executive Director’s lap.

I said something like, “Oh. My. God.”

Mere seconds passed, and the Executive Director and his Secretary wasted no time in getting comfortable with one another. My manager peered out the window and caught sight of the spectacle. She yelled, “Holy shit.”

  • Just then, the woman in the office next to us knocked on our door and asked, “Can you see this?”
  • Someone else walked past our office, saw that we were staring out the window, and popped into our office to figure out what we were doing.
  • He saw what was happening and didn’t leave.
  • Before we knew it, there was a crowd in our office.

I felt badly for the Executive Director and Secretary. Both individuals were married with children, and the Executive Director was widely known as a family guy with conservative values. As an adult, I know that infidelity happens–but there’s nothing worse than infidelity that’s exposed on accident to your colleagues and peers.

The Executive Director and Secretary began to get intimate, and snide comments were being made at their expense. I didn’t know what to do, but I knew that I had to intervene and stop the madness. I calmly (but quickly) walked over to the Executive Director’s office and knocked. I was asked to enter after a few, very tense moments. I gently opened the door (just a crack) and said, “I’m not sure if you know this, but your blinds aren’t completely closed.”

Then I shut the door and walked away. That was the closest I’ve come to vomiting at work over the past twelve years.

The Executive Director and Secretary were very thankful for the intervention & asked me to join them for lunch, the next day. I politely declined. Life was awkward enough without listening to two people explain their mutual affection for one another. I didn’t want to hear it, simply enough. I was savvy enough to know that things would end badly. (They did.) The Executive Director never left his wife, and the Secretary quit her job.

So when I’m thinking about my constipated kittens and wondering how I find myself in these difficult situations, I think back on that crazy incident in my professional life and realize that constipated kittens are both a joy and a blessing.

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