Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Unwanted Accessory

Yesterday, I wore throw-up to an office training.  Yeah.  Classy.

The attorneys at my state agency were called in for an impromptu 2 ½ hour training at yesterday.  That’s not a great time of day for my stomach.  I tried to sit close to the door, but people kept asking me to move over (further away from the door), so that more people could fit into the room.  When they turned off the air conditioning so that the people in the back of the room could hear the speaker better, I knew I was in trouble.  Sure enough, about one hour into the training, I had to step on people’s feet as I ran for the bathroom (which, luckily, was across the hall from the training room).  There were two other women in the bathroom at the time, but I couldn’t concern myself with them.  After about 15 minutes of praying to the porcelain god, I sheepishly left the bathroom stall to find the two women waiting for me.  They offered to take me to the hospital or to drive me home and, although I’ve been trying to tame my tendency to tell relative strangers about my pregnancy, I didn’t want them to worry, so I had to tell them that I was okay…I was just pregnant.  They offered to get me crackers and ginger ale, or to run over to the adjacent building with a cafeteria and see if they could find me soup or juice.  They were so sweet, but I was so humiliated, I just wanted to get away from them.

I took the elevator the four floors down to my office, ate a few saltines and bought a bottle of ginger ale from a vending machine.  Then, realizing that my supervisor would likely be unhappy about my extended absence from the mandatory training, I went back to the hot, stuffy, crowded training room.  I got seated and looked up to find that everyone across the table from me was staring at me.  I assumed it was because I had left so abruptly, so I lowered my eyes to avoid their stares.  That’s when I saw it…two large yellow wet spots on my light pink blouse (which becomes see-through when wet).  Apparently, the two women in the bathroom were too concerned for my well-being to notice that I had thrown-up on myself, or perhaps they were just too embarrassed to mention it.  Either way, I don’t think there was much question in my coworkers’ minds about what was on my shirt.  Humiliated, I again stepped over everyone and went back to the bathroom to try to wash my blouse (which then became even more see-through).  I don’t know why I didn’t look in the mirror earlier…probably because I was trying to escape from the two kind women from the bathroom.

I returned to the training room just as the presenter was finishing up.  I was afraid that I was going to get in trouble for missing so much of the training.  I couldn’t stand the idea of having to explain to my supervisor what had happened.  So, I was really pleasantly surprised when she came over to me and asked, in a whisper, whether I was alright.  She didn’t mention my shirt (which I was very grateful for) and she said that I didn’t need to worry about the training.  Later, I overheard some buzz around the office about whether I had a stomach bug or was pregnant, but no one actually confronted me about what happened and no one has really treated me any differently since the incident. 

Interestingly, looking back on the situation today, I am not really as upset by what happened as I normally would be.  Don’t get me wrong, the ordeal was REALLY embarrassing at the time.  But in a weird way, I am kind of grateful that it happened because it made me realize what a great position I am in right now.  Even though I wore throw-up to an office meeting, no one has been rude to me about it.  The two women in the bathroom, whom I had never met before that experience, were willing to leave work to take me to the hospital or home.  I’m a complete stranger to them…but they are so kind that they didn’t hesitate to offer their assistance.  If I heard someone retching in the bathroom, I have to admit that I would have just run to another bathroom before I suffered the same fate as the retcher.  Not these women…they were better than I am.  Then there’s my supervisor.  If this happened at the firm I used to work for, I would have been chastised by the partners.  They had little tolerance for any sickness or the need for special accommodations.  In contrast, in my current job, when my supervisor found out I was pregnant, she offered to allow me to park in a handicap parking spot, right next to the building, whenever I find that I am no longer able to make the walk from the parking garage to our building.  She offered to get a laptop for me so that I could work from home, giving me the peace of mind that, even if I am put on bed rest, I won’t lose my income leading up to the baby’s birth.  I know that this reaction by an employer is not the norm.  I know that I am blessed to work with, and for, such amazing people.  It is unfortunate that it took wearing throw-up to a meeting to really make me fully appreciate what a gift I’ve been given, but I think that sometimes that is how life works.  Although I hope I never have to wear throw-up again (at work or otherwise), this one time…I’ll take it.


Michelle D said...

New follower here. I love the blog title. Also...what a day and you handled it with grace it sounds like. Congratulations on your pregnancy and hope to hear more on your adventure :)

Michelle (DE mom to twin girls)

China Doll said...

This is definitely a day which you'll be able to look back on and laugh in years to come! But must have been so awful at the time.. feeling for you! But everyone's response was so great - must be very reassuring for you xx