It’s a fact -- at work, as in life, we make mistakes. Sometimes, they’re minor and miss-able and we even manage to avoid responsibility or blame. Other times, they’re major, impossible to ignore, and undeniably our fault.
My own errors have run the gamut from forgettable (I was that girl who burned the popcorn and stunk up the office) to cringe worthy (I accidentally hit “reply all”) -- but none of them can compare to my most infamous fuck up: the time I inadvertently edited a double-headed dildo into a corporate document.
What had happened was I was working the shittiest job ever when an acquaintance offered me to pay me under the table to edit a training manual for the home health care franchise she worked for. Because I was scraping by and looking for work that utilized my actual skills, I jump-jumped like Kriss Kross at the opportunity.
She brought the mammoth, nearly 400-page manual to me and explained that she wanted it cleaned up and cohesive. Easy. She told me to record the hours I worked and she’d pay me $15 an hour.
I started working quickly, intending to dazzle her with my efficiency and talent. Everything was great until I hit the Table of Contents. The acquaintance hadn’t been lying when she said the previous editor had “really fucked it up.” I tried everything to fix it, but each correction created a series of subsequent errors that spilled over onto the following pages. I pondered the first editor’s motivations and now suspect she was treated as unfairly as I was and got her revenge there, within the document. But at the time, I couldn’t do much more than marvel at what I presumed was her nefarious technological genius.
I let the acquaintance know that with the exception of the Table of Contents, I had corrected the entire manual. When she retrieved it, she was very understanding and appreciative of my work, claiming it had never looked more polished or professional. As she left, she reminded me to submit my invoice.
Upon receipt, she replied, saying that while I had done a great job on it, my invoice exceeded their budget. Needless to say, I was shocked and felt it required a delicate response. I was torn between my personal response, which was, succinctly, “Fuck you, pay me,” and my professional one, a deftly worded, eloquent way of saying, “Fuck you, pay me.”
After careful deliberation, I told her instead of being paid in full at once, I would accept multiple payments. She reluctantly agreed, saying I should expect payment soon. I was proud of successfully playing hardball and looked forward to getting paid.
A few weeks later, however, I received an email with the subject “links in manual.” It read:
“Brook, I am not sure what to make of this, but when I read through the manual I found a link inserted in two separate places. Needless to say, if this had gone unnoticed it would have been a complete embarrassment in training and totally unacceptable.”
With a sinking stomach, I opened the link and found, to my horror, that it was the gorgeous, iridescent purple double-headed dildo I’d been admiring. I’d somehow managed to insert two links to a double-headed dildo into a document for people who were already waffling on paying me the money I was owed.
At that moment, I knew that without ever purchasing or acquiring that shimmering, bulbous dildo, I was going to get fucked by it -- and good.
My heart sank. In a panic, I apologized profusely, saying I had no idea how that happened and that it was, of course, unacceptable. No response. Several days later, I received an email detailing errors I’d left uncorrected -- none of which had been mentioned in my heretofore laudatory messages. I pointed this out but received no response.
Two more months passed and all my communications went ignored. Finally, I contacted the acquaintance’s boss. After explaining the entire situation, I said I simply wanted compensation for the work I’d done. I didn’t mention the elephant, er, dildo in the document.
Another month passed before I received a check for less than half of what I was owed. There was a brief, condescending note attached saying the check represented the resolution of the matter. Because I needed the money -- and knew this was the best I was gonna get -- I cashed it.
Even though I thought I’d never professionally recover from this behemoth of a blunder, eventually I did. Sure, my bankroll and self-esteem took a temporary hit -- but in time, I managed to see the ridiculous hilarity of it. I also developed a maniacal habit for triple checking my work.
Maybe most importantly, I stopped dildo shopping during work hours.