First of all, congrats to last month’s winner/loser, Ena, for her harrowing tale of duck boots at a business meeting. I feel you. Now go get a manicure!
Second of all, you should share your mistake with us. Never forget that by sharing you will not only feel a bit better about yourself (free-er, lighter, released-er) but you will be making other people’s lives better because they will read your mistake and think “Ah, I’m really not the worst.” ALSO WE CHOOSE A MISTAKE OF THE MONTH WINNER EVERY MONTH AND THAT WINNER GETS A FREE MANICURE FROM SPARKS SALON. SO EVERYONE WINS WHEN YOU OWN UP TO YOUR MISTAKES… Right, Alice?
THIS IS ME, OWNING UP:
I made two BIG mistakes in February and they intertwine, and honestly I’m very embarrassed about both of them. BUT. Before I start, I have to awknowledge and apologize for some major ignorance on my part. You’ll figure out what I was ignorant about pretty quickly. Also, I’m very worried that this story reads as, “poor little white girl,” but I promise you that’s not my intent. I want everyone to know I KNOW that ignorance is not an excuse for acting like an idiot.
I work at a coffee shop. Sometimes a man comes in. He loves carrot cake. We haven’t had carrot cake for a while, but he came in at the beginning of Feburary and we had it, and I was very happy to give it to him.
Me: “That will be $3.75!”
Him: “Is that with tax?”
Me: “Oh no, sorry wait, it’s 3.84.”
Him: “I don’t pay tax.”
In my head, I am dumb, and I automatically think: “He hates the government. He is a libertarian. Or an anarchist. How does that work? Ah. Ah. Okay. How am I supposed to deal with the short change? What’s going on?”
And soo I say (instead of just asking the obvious question, which is “Why?” because I am awkward and trying to be funny but just really confused), slowly: “Because of the way you live your life?”
Him (suddenly angry): “Just. Serve. The. Cake.”
So now I’m confused and frustrated. He’s looking at me with disgust and I’m looking at him like, “How rude!”
Before he leaves he points to his head and he says: “No. Because of this headband.”
The door chimes shut and I look at my co-worker, flabbergasted.
Co-worker: “Lisa, Native Americans don’t pay sales tax.”
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. HEART SINKING. FACE RED. I AM SO DUMB AND NOW I AM ALSO SEEMINGLY A RACIST. “BECAUSE OF THE WAY YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE?”?????!!!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? WHY DIDN’T I JUST ASK “WHY?”?
I almost run after the costumer, but then I remember his look of disgust and stop myself. Instead, I find his email address (Googleskillz) and send him an apology and try to clarify the situation. I explain that I was unaware of the sales tax issue and feel very, very upset about the whole thing. I also spend time researching the tax situation*. Discovering your ignorance is a terrible feeling. I didn’t know, but I should have known, and my ignorance hurt someone.
I receive a response from him the next morning: He is glad I admitted my “wrongs.” I feel upset by the wording, but ignore it and send a thank-you follow-up. I receive a message a few minutes later telling me I have “personal problems.” BAH. He doesn’t acknowledge my not knowing. Maybe he doesn’t believe me.
I won’t go into any more details, but it’s safe to say the whole thing ended up being one big F’ING MESS. Many emails were exchanged until finally my boss told me to just stop.
AND THEN TO TOP IT ALL OFF I DECIDE TO USE THAT STORY IN A JOB INTERVIEW TO EXPLAIN HOW I DEAL WITH CONFLICT. AS IF, “SOMEONE THOUGHT I WAS A RACIST AND THEN I EMAILED THEM” IS A GOOD CONFLICT RESOLUTION TACTIC.
I didn’t get the job.
What’d you do wrong? Share with us in the comments below and you could win!