Part II: In which an opportunity to show her skills leaves Xi terrified of being fired.

In my last post I told you guys about my misdirected efforts to impress my boss.

Woe_by_Kevin-DooleyWell, that was Part One of the story.

Yeah, it got worse.

So a couple of days had passed since I’d submitted my proposal for the company holiday party, and still no response from the boss. Starting to worry a bit, I brought the topic up with my supervisor, who went to go discuss it with the boss.

Thirty minutes later, I’m making a phone call to Maximilien, a French restaurant at the heart of Pike Place Market to arrange a lunch meeting with their manager.

Now, from their website, the place looks huge.

Maximilien Restaurant

While I am a big admirer of a photographer’s skill to make any space, no matter how dinghy or dark, nothing had me prepared when I stepped into the restaurant with the office manager and the boss the next day.

You see, Maximilien is tucked away behind the fish market. After ducking through the perpetual crowd of camera-waving onlookers and dodging the large bucket of slimy water being dragged out by an exhausted fish salesman, you find a cluttered, narrowing bar leading into a …wider space with an equally limited ceiling.

For me, the low ceiling’s no problem, but my boss is 6’1″ and sporting an increasingly flat expression. He’s not an especially smiley guy, but he’s alright to everyone in the office. Here, though, I don’t need to have known him long to know that things aren’t as he expected.

Cue hasty flagging-down of nearest waiter. And hasty introduction to the restaurant. And hasty displaying of the restaurant’s (good) features.

And from there it was one thing crumbling downhill after another.

First off, this is Seattle we’re speaking of, so ‘course, that means we had to pay a small fortune to park in a lot.

Then by the time we’d ordered, it was one o’clock, and the place was crammed with sweaty tourists. And the manager of the restaurant — who’d said to me over the phone that he’d have some materials ready for us to look at and would be available for any questions — turned out to be the busiest man ever, apparently. After he showed us to a corner booth and shoved an information packet (which, by the way, I’d already pored over and dissected at the office) at me, disappeared.

And again, it all would have been tolerable, but then my boss announced he had a Very Important Meeting with some potential clients in half an hour.

Cue frantic flagging-down of nearest waiter.

Then my boss’ soup came, and it was all very good and the management got us complimentary bread as an apology. And all was well.

Then the soup was gone. And the bread.

Then nothing.

And the time kept slipping by…

Cuefranticflaggingdownofnearestwaiter. (Who’re starting to avoid eye contact with me now.)

And finally in a great heave from his undersized, crickety chair, my boss sweeps from the room with about as much optimism as a woman who arrived at the sale too late.

Something like this...
Something like this…

And if I hadn’t been cowering before, well, I sure as fuck am now.


My supervisor and I finally get our lunch, ten minutes after the boss has left the building, and we eat quickly and return to our car. Luckily, the entire day’s expenses can be billed to the company.

Unluckily, my boss happens to be the penny-counting kind.

Now I’m thinking, Why the hell did I put that on the list? Of all the venues I’d selected, we had to go see the crummiest one first. Excellent job, Xi, you’ve gone and screwed it all up. Now see if you get entrusted with any more projects. Ever.

Oh gods, the horror.
Oh gods, the horror.

And since then I haven’t properly seen or talked to my boss; he’s been holed up at meetings for the most part, or shut into his office at other times. But I did have a couple passing chats with him in the hallways, and he seems to either be over the matter, or is superb at hiding lingering displeasure.

I’ve decided to assume mostly the former plus a subtle trace of the latter until there’s proof to the contrary. In any case, it took a good 24-hours before I thought myself out of an unhappy place.

But here’s what you can do if you find you’ve upset an employer:

Don’t act upset. No whining, and no letting others see you feel sorry for yourself. That’ll just make whoever sees you more pissed and ready to ignore you.

Don’t pretend you don’t care. You’ll be lucky if you don’t find yourself with a notice the next day. You must show a determination to improve, to learn from the experience. And you must show that you know you did do something .

Do try to remedy the mistake. If the error can be fixed, fix it. If there was something lacking, work harder and do a solid job next time. But don’t spend so much time trying to go over what’s already done that you neglect your other work.

Don’t dwell. It’s bad for your mood and adds to the negative energy in the office. You must take care to focus on moving on and accepting the next challenge someone’s going to throw at you.

Allow yourself time to sulk. This is, very honestly, a biggie. Find a secluded place in the office, even if it’s just the bathroom, to regain your inner quiet before interacting with coworkers just then. And later, after the day is done, go rant to a friend. I picked my mother, and you wonderful, wonderful Readers, but do give yourself that space.

Do something happy. Why let work get in the way of you getting away from work? Personally I immersed myself in Merthur podfics the whole drive home. Nothing makes you smile more than Merthur fluff.

And because everything in my life is serendipitous and dramatically pathetic, here was my horoscope for that day:

Pisces_Horoscope 2013-08-29 15.34.47

Woe image courtesy of Kevin Dooley on Flickr.
Maximilien restaurant image from the restaurant’s website.
White faced saki image courtesy of hotblack on MorgueFile.
Raccoon image courtesy of hotblack on MorgueFile.
Hidden Faces image courtesy of virtualwayfarer on Flickr.


3 thoughts on “Surviving a Screw-Up at Work

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