It’s The Little Things

Originally published August 17, 2011

I have this boss who is not really known for being friendly. He is incredibly condescending and makes sure that you feel like your work is never good enough. He believes he is a big dog at the firm. And he was. Before he retired. Now he is just a retired partner who works full time on his own volition. Regardless, I have always tried to treat him with respect and get his work done with the utmost quality. It seems I am always trying to impress him but can never get his approval.

Last week, we finally connected. I went into his office to talk about a pending matter and noticed that he was looking a little down. I asked if he was okay which led to a good genuine conversation about work and life and marriage and kids and it was great. I felt really good. Finally. I wasn’t his mule. I was his secretary, his coworker, his administrative assistant. I was in there for 45 minutes having a good conversation with the boss I could never impress. I stood the whole time while he sat at his desk because I was afraid to sit down on the mistaken presumption that he wanted to talk more. My feet were getting tired but I didn’t care. And it didn’t matter that I happened to have a ton of work to do because I knew this was just as important for my career.

I walked out of his office a bit delirious. I was on my way to my desk when I happened to look down and see that my zipper was down. Oh. My. God.

The blood drained from my face. The entire time that I was talking with him my pants were unzipped. And even worse, because I was standing and he was sitting, his eye level was straight at my crotch. I started thinking about how stupid I was to think that he was looking into my eyes because he was into what I was saying. No. He was looking into my eyes because he didn’t want to see my red superman underwear.

I was incredibly embarrassed. But then an amazing thing happened. I started laughing. This was a pretty funny situation. Sure I was embarrassed. And I won’t deny that I seriously considered quitting my job for a second. But the whole thing was quite hilarious. And I just kept laughing.

I couldn’t help but remember when I was a kid and my mom, sister, and I used to tell embarrassing stories to each other. My mom was always trying to find ways for us to do things as a family. Instead of watch TV during dinner we would tell each other about our day. And sometimes instead of listening to music in the car we would play games. A couple of times my mom decided a fun game to play would be to each tell an embarrassing story. One by one we would each tell our story and then we would all laugh and poke fun at each other and ourselves.

Parents don’t get manuals on how to raise kids. In many ways it is a big guessing game. We take a leap of faith that we are doing right by our kids and hope that we are influencing them the best way possible. There is no way to ever tell the true magnitude of what you do and don’t do for your children. Will this day effect them 20 years later?

I don’t know if it was her intention or not, but it made embarrassing stories not so embarrassing anymore. I certainly didn’t realize it at the time and I don’t think she did either, but being able to laugh at ourselves in a safe fun environment helped me 20 years later when I had a horrifically embarrassing moment and survived.

So kudos to you Mom. Because of you, I’m doing okay.


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