The thing that kept me up at night this week is an easy one: I fucked up at work this week. It was not, perhaps, as catastrophic as it could have been, but only because it was fixed with minimal involvement from anyone’s boss. It was not fixed when I left work on Monday, so I spent Monday night trying to sleep and instead feverishly imagining all the ways I might be called on to explain myself. How might I make it sound just a little bit better, if asked? Tuesday morning I breathed a sigh of relief, but by Tuesday afternoon the world was, once again, barreling toward the apocalypse. I found out yesterday at 4pm that I was 95% out of the woods. The remaining 5% would have to wait until Tuesday.
My boss does not and will never know how close we came to the end times. Or at least how close I felt to the end times.
In so many ways, I like to do things on a grand scale. In my more flippant moments, I like to say that I ball too hard. Where Kelly, for example, maintains a constant low level bitchiness, I like to lull you into a false sense of security by being nice most of the time. And then I’ll cut you off at the knees. Our mistakes work the same way. Kelly misses some flights or misbooks them, but they are all budget flights, less than $100. I wait too long to apply for my visa, and then my parents end up paying for not one, but two international flights. In this case, my mistake could have cost the company some money, and damaged our relationship with an account not exactly known for being the paragon of rationality.
We don’t talk about mistakes like this much. We talk about failure, as a part of the creative process or catastrophic errors that lead to tragedy, but I can’t be the only person I know to have screwed up at work in ways that were not insubstantial, even if they weren’t firing offenses either. And yet I can’t think of anything anyone I know has done.
Had this mistake not been resolved as well as it was, I might not be talking about it either. It’s pretty easily one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done. A true baloney head moment, as my mom used to describe my school-aged missteps. But I also had help. Someone sent me the wrong form, and someone else decided this was the day she was going to stop checking my work. But I also didn’t do most of the work to fix it. Aren’t the worst of our mistakes always the ones we can’t fix ourselves, however much we might like to?
I’m not a detailed oriented person. Sometimes, this is carelessness. Sometimes, this is arrogance But most of the time I think it’s just the way my brain works. I don’t check things by running over them with a fine-tooth comb. I read them 12 times instead. I figure anything I don’t catch on the first try, I’ll have caught by the seventh or eighth. Anything I haven’t caught by the 12th no one else is going to catch either.
I don’t believe that there has to be maliciousness or carelessness for mistakes to be made (ten points if you know where I got that from). This week might not have been so bad if I felt like some of the people I was working with were operating under that assumption. Be kind, people. There’s enough purposeful malevolence without all of us going around assuming it. Shit happens.
Oh, and when you’re kind to your badass customer service counterpart, sometimes she fixes your mistakes for you.