Sounds like the first line of a joke, doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t. Or maybe it is, if you’re thinking of klutzy me. J. is less injury prone and better with a drill. I am wisely relegated to a supporting role on home improvement tasks, e.g., “Honey, a beer/iced tea/lunch would be nice.”
We went to the store to buy planks for raised garden beds. According to J.’s careful calculations, we had room for two 12 x 3 foot beds. What we hadn’t considered was how we’d get those 12-foot planks home my little black car. Remember the car I said I’d never eat in and forever park at the far end of every parking lot to prevent door dents? I know, sounds a touch unrealistic.
The helpful and eager young employee–let’s call him McDreamer–believed we could somehow get those long planks home in my teeny car, so he and J. attempted to manoeuvre them while I watched in fascination. (I bruise easily, remember?) All was going well until McDreamer decided to move the planks a bit farther up the dashboard, at the expense of the windshield. Once he realized what had happened, McDreamer was so upset he bolted off in tears to seek help.
How would a normal person respond in this situation? J., ever the normal one, uttered the F-word several times. I am not normal, however, so my instantaneous response was to flash back through my many job disasters over the years and feel McDreamer’s pain.
I clearly recall the first time I really messed up at a so-called job. Early in my babysitting career, which was quite busy and lucrative, I somehow forgot a booking altogether. I remember feeling so ashamed by my error, and my shame was compounded by the parents’ rage. Needless to say, this family never asked me back.
Since then, I can think of critical moments with clients that I haven’t handled well and wished I could revisit. I addressed these mishaps with the client if I had the opportunity, but sometimes, because of circumstances, I did not. Unfinished business is unsettling.
In case you’re wondering, no, I did not immediately put on my psychologist hat and offer McDreamer my services. We’ve recently reviewed the prohibitions against ambulance chasing, and, in this case, I was the one in the ambulance. Rather, McDreamer appropriately sought help from an older and wiser employee, who explained that 12-foot planks could not safely be transported by a 6-foot-long vehicle. The store manager then magically appeared and offered to pay to replace the windshield. She was lovely and gracious, including with McDreamer, so everyone breathed a sigh of relief.
J. returned to the store the next day with a revised plan. If we built 6-foot rather than 12-foot boxes, the shorter planks would fit easily in our friend’s van. Since McDreamer had not been fired, he gladly helped us out. Even without my professional help, he seemed to have fully overcome the prior day’s trauma. The shorter planks were loaded in and nobody got hurt.
Even my car has learned an important lesson about knowing her limits. I doubt she’ll ever try that again. Or at least not under my watch.