Example: Last week a guy was sitting on a park bench listening to the radio. He had a cigarette in one hand, and as luck would have it, there was an anti-smoking commercial airing. As I was walking by, right about the part of "dangers of second hand exposure," I sniff something that makes me want to sneeze (and it wasn't smoke). I suck some air back (I'm not an attractive sneezer, especially during allergy season), only something goes wrong and I start coughing. And it's not a gentle cough. It's a gagging ridiculous display that's impossible for anyone NOT to notice. It's so bad that I have to stop on the other side of the sidewalk from said-guy and lean against a tree to recover. I'm pissed that I didn't bring my inhaler or do a double-shot of Nasonex. Alas...
The guy on the bench rolls his eyes at me.
"Seriously, lady? Seriously? I'm not even blowing smoke anywhere near you. God. This is the most dramatic generation EVER. Everything will kill you all. Everything will harm you. You should all be shocked that you survived infancy with people like me around. God."
I wanted to apologize, but would the truth even be believable? It all came down to timing. Had I been able to curb that sneeze/coughing fit for ten--no, five--seconds longer, it would have been NBD. Instead, I seemingly acted like a judgmental jerk to a stranger who was just minding his own business.
Thanks, drunk gnome. Thanks.
It's not just a matter of a one-time Coughgate incident. Oh, no. My resume of bad timing is about a volume deep now.
My first trip to a Bed, Bath, & Beyond nearly ended in tears.
It started off fabulously. I was caught off guard by the many aisles of needless crap that I had to have: French Country scented candles, Dr. Pepper lip balm (an ode to my childhood), and zigzag parchment paper. It was a successful trip. After purchasing the items, I strolled to the elevator that led to the parking garage. Before stepping in, I heard a man and woman talking. He was miffed because someone behind him in the checkout lane had NO personal space boundaries and had been up against his back--touching him--the entire time he was buying his items.
That's a huge pet peeve for me. I stepped into the elevator and started chiming in about how people need to respect personal space, blah blah blah, but then I lost my footing...I stumbled forward...and landed directly against his gut.
He looked horrified. I gazed up at him in a full state of shock. My one hand was still clutching his shirt. My feet were still tangled together. Our bodies were pressed uncomfortably together.
"I"m so sorry!" I said.
We locked eyes. He, because he was already traumatized by the personal space attack earlier; me, because I was still holding onto him--and leaning against him. Why couldn't I let go? What the hell is wrong with me?!
"I"m so, so sorry!"
His face turned bright red. He looked like he was sweating. My whimpering apologies were only adding to his distress.
With each passing second, the awkwardness kept quadrupling. I finally managed to straighten my feet out and stand on solid ground. He jerked my hand off of his shirt immediately. I had, by all accounts, assaulted him--much more-so than the person behind him had earlier. The woman witnessing all this stood mute in horror.
Personal space plunderer, I am shamefully she.
Damn you, drunk gnome. Damn you to hell!
I periodically let a friend toy around on my phone. He changes the ringtone to different songs, which is fine. Whatever keeps it fresh, I suppose. The Ace of Base jams were beginning to date me, or so he said.
At a former job (ha!), we once had a morning seminar about sexual harassment. It was led by a woman who should have starred in a Lifetime move. Something like She Stood Alone, or She Said No. She was a passionate speaker who endured years of harassment by an employer which ended in a physical altercation after she tried to get him to back off. After winning her lawsuit, she now goes around the country telling her story and reminding us all that as far as we think we've come as a society, there are still indignant pieces of shit in the world.
She was much more poignant than how I'm describing her. We were all awe struck by her bravery as she told painful and cringe-worthy parts of her story with a straight face. She inspired others not to suffer in silence, and to be strong women (and men--cause it happens to them, too) in the workplace.
Which made what happened next all the worse...
At a particularly inappropriate moment (READ: a huge emotional impact point), someone's phone starts ringing. Loudly. And it's not just a run-of-the-mill ringtone, but Salt-N-Pepa's Let's Talk About Sex. We all gaze around at each other like deer caught in headlights. My boss looks like bullets were going to fly out of her eyes.
Who would have the nerve to have THAT song as their ringtone during a sexual harassment seminar? And who's the dumbass that didn't turn their damn phone off??
Slowly, people were discreetly checking their purses/pockets. A co-worker looked at me with disgust, and I nodded in agreement. Then she pointed toward the purse next to my feet. My purse.
"All the good times, and the bad times...that may be" was radiating out of my Kate Spade knock-off.
I wanted to die.
I hit decline and turned it on silent immediately. The entire room, including the poignant speaker, stared daggers into me. "I'm so sorry," I whispered.
After the seminar was over, I approached the brave speaker to apologize again. She was gracious. She was forgiving.
Before I left, though, she whispered "Mistakes happen...just be sure you aren't part of the problem in the workplace."
Mother fucking gnome.
With any luck, I'll have enough material for volume two of bad timing before the summer's over.
Purgatory goes live 5/20!!! Stay tuned!!!