Which is not something I usually get to say. Trust me. I work as a project manager for a pharmaceutical company.
Monday traffic and meeting madness aside, things were looking pretty perky by 9am. Because by 9am, I was staring at someone’s boobs.
Let me back that thing up.
I was meeting a brand spanking (ahem) new colleague to explain how great the department was, what kinds of things she could work on, and the dress code what to expect in the coming months.
The woman was in her 30s, attractive and friendly. The conversation started in the usual way: “How long were you without power [because of Hurricane Sandy]?”
Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something unusual. Something not quite right. No, no, it can’t be, I thought to myself. I let my eyes dart down.
Yup. Yup. Oh my god. Black. Lace. Push-up bra. Cleavage many would pay to see. I felt my ears turn as crimson as her blouse. Of all the buttons to pop when she sat down…
I had known this woman for five minutes. How could I tell her we’d already taken things to the next level? But could I make it through the rest of the meeting without saying something, and then hope she’d use the restroom? No, that was just cruel.
“I’m sorry I’d want someone to say something if it was me,” I blurted in one breath, “I think one of your buttons came undone.”
“Oh no, it’s just this shirt,” she said, swinging the droopy silk collar that dangled over her va-va-voom.
I said nothing and waited for her to look down.
“Oh jeez,” she cringed once she realized what I talking about, and quickly fastened the rogue button. She thanked me for telling her and carried on with her earlier point.
Just like that. I had to give her credit. A little while later, she bid goodbye,
“I’m off to meet with [Mr. Big Boss] now.”
“Great – it was wonderful meeting you!” I replied smoothly, wondering how disappointed the Big Boss would have been if he’d known what he missed out on.
Later that morning, I had time to giggle reflect. I gasped, remembering: This wasn’t the first time I’d seen someone’s bra at work!
My very first year on the job, a middle-aged woman I’d only just met grabbed me and pulled me into the ladies room.
“I need help! My bra!” she whispered, eyes wild.
I watched, stunned, as she freed one arm from her forest green turtleneck. I tried to figure out what was going on. Everything seemed normal. Except for all the parts that were totally fudged up.
I soon realized what she needed me to do. I reached down her shirt, grazing her moist, freckled back, fished out the dangling shoulder strap and re-hooked it to the front of her bra.
I left the bathroom in a daze. Twitter didn’t exist yet, so I saved the story for my sister-in-law-slash-coworker, who still fondly recalls Bra Lady.
You probably think this is the end of it. Oh-ho no. Peppermeister (Husband #1) read this draft post and reminded me of the crème de la crème.
A couple years ago, a coworker in her mid-30s returned from vacation in the Bahamas, eager to show me pictures from her trip. Call me crazy, but I’ve always been fond of vacation photos. Anything to escape the drab, gray cubicle walls.
I walked over to her desk and she pulled out a manila envelope.
“I hired someone to take these pictures while we were there,” she said, shy yet excited. “He said I could be a model.”
Each 8 x 10 photo featured her bikini-clad bod on the beach.
“You look amazing!” I gushed, admiring her toned figure.
She looked up and down the hall and then whispered, “I have to be careful about some of these.”
She flipped to the next few photographs.
And there she was.
It’s been two years, and I still don’t have the words.
Anyway. Today I’m bringing a wallet full of singles to work. Just in case.
Have you ever felt like a boob at work? Any good wardrobe malfunction stories?
***Hurricane Sandy Update: We finally got power back on Sunday night! My mood’s as boosted my coworkers’ chests! Thank you again for all of your well wishes! …Annnnd just kidding. Power went out again at 5am today (Tuesday).***
Change management, much like project management, is big these days. With companies going under or being bought by other companies, a lot of people feel like they’re up a creek without a paddle. Or, they’re not sure if they’re even in a creek, but they have a paddle and they’re using it to hit themselves over the head.
To see if you work in a place of constant churn, ask yourself if you’ve heard any of these thingsin the last week (also I encourage you to play B.S. Bingo at your next meeting):
“It’s like the blind leading the blind.”
“Well I can tell you how we USED to do things.”
“I don’t think we’ve met. I’m your new boss.”
“Hold off on that until we know more.”
That’s what I thought. Well, I’m here to help you. I’m here to share what I learned recently in change management training (by the way, there’s good money to be made in this field, if you don’t mind tears, hysteria and people being escorted from buildings by security).
Some People Reject Change Passively, Others Let You Know How They Feel About It.
Some People Simply Cannot Accept Change.
If you’re dealing with the last issue, there seems to be only one solution. And that solution is something I learned a long time ago from despair.com, so we might have all just wasted our time here. I’m sorry. I’ll let us both get back to Googling “how to find Darren Criss‘s cell phone number” now.
If you don’t know what this post is going to be about, please go back and read the title. In fact, please make a point of always reading my titles. I have really good titles. Most times, I won’t repeat them in the post itself, so you should go back and read the title again after you’ve read the post, so you can truly appreciate how clever I am.
Now, where were we? Ah yes, Project Management Boot Camp. Did you know there was such a thing? I didn’t either, until I decided to look for a new position at my company and then they actually hired me. During the interview process, I was told that there was this incredible opportunity to attend a Project Management Boot Camp in Pennsylvania. Not wanting to spoil the interview, I grinned and nodded enthusiastically.
“That sounds perfect!” I said.
If everything worked out, I would attend the Boot Camp during my first week on the job.
“The timing couldn’t be better!” I said.
When I got the job, I asked,
“Who do I talk to to get signed up for this Boot Camp?”
I then found out that they weren’t calling it Boot Camp to be funny. You had to leave on a Sunday night and wouldn’t return until the following Friday night. “Evening activities should conclude by 10pm” the sample agenda read.
“It will be fine!” I told myself and registered.
On Sunday, March 6th, I drove the 45 miles southwest, trying to keep an open mind about both the Boot Camp and Pennsylvania. Now that I had bought my first home in rural New Jersey (yes, such a place DOES exist), I really needed to be more welcoming of my neighbors to the west, whose country music stations were starting to invade my radio frequency.
It was pouring rain and the two-lane highway kept abruptly turning left and right. This should have been my first clue. But no.
“I’m going to learn so much!” I thought.
I checked into my nice, but not as nice as my own bedroom, hotel room and hung up all of my outfits for the week, looking to see where the iron was, just in case. “I am a professional, wrinkle-free businesswoman now,” I said to myself.
If I hadn’t eaten before I’d left, I could have had complimentary room service.
“This is going to be like an all-expenses-paid vacation,” I mused.
At 7:30am the next morning, I filled my ice bucket so that I could tuck my vodka to bed for the day, like any good vodka sitter-slash-drinker. When I went to re-enter my room, a strange man opened the door.
“Oh, sorry, wrong room!” I said, realizing I was two doors away from my own room. I briefly recalled the time I went to the wrong house for a Christmas Eve party and stayed for 20 minutes before anyone realized it. Finally they pointed me next door. Snapping back to present day, I noticed this man had a notebook and added, “Although I think we’re headed to the same place!”
He gave me a strange look, but it didn’t dawn on me until much later that someone with a bucket of ice and someone with a notebook should NOT be going to the same place.
I recovered from the momentary embarrassment and reported downstairs to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. All five days were to start promptly at 8am. A few people were milling about, grabbing bagels and coffee, including the man I had just bumped into. “Maybe now he won’t think I’m crazy,” I thought, but watched as he took a seat at the opposite end of the restaurant.
Twenty minutes later, we gathered in the large, freezing conference room that was to be our home for the next five days. I had a panicky moment where I couldn’t find my name card, but there it was, in the far left corner, next to wrong-hotel-room guy.
“Whew! Imagine if they didn’t have me registered!”
I introduced myself and looked at all of the neat trinkets in front of me.
“I am going to get the royal treatment!” I thought, amused by the blue camouflage bandana and dog tags at my work station.
There were only 17 other people in the boot camp and I didn’t recognize anyone, even though they were all from my company. We were broken into two teams, blue and green, based on the color of our bandanas, and told that we had to wear our dog tags at all times or we’d have to buy the intructors a drink.
“What fun! My team is going to win everything!” I thought, glad I didn’t trade for a green bandana as soon as I sat down, like I had wanted to.
The two instructors both had Southern accents, which seemed to enhance the Boot Camp theme. I wondered if either one would snap during the week and tell us we were worthless little maggots. I kind of hoped they would.
“What happens in boot camp stays in boot camp,” they told us, and the first sense of foreboding came over me. I wondered how many more times people would say that stupid line before I died of boredom.
As they went over a disconcertingly vague verbal agenda for the week (they wanted some things to be a “surprise”), I quickly realized that the reason for such late nights was because we would be in lectures all day and in our teams all night, working on projects. If I thought I was going to get to watch Vampire Diaries and Glee, or ever see the light of day that week, I was sorely mistaken.
By Day 3, shortly after our team had to perform a dance number, to a song of the green team’s choosing (I would tell you more, but I’m afraid the instructors know where I live. I KNOW they know where I work), I hit a low place. A very low place. The kind of place where you think of the American Idol contestants during group week, or the poor bastards on The Real World, and for the first time ever, feel a genuine kinship. If someone brought me into a confession room just then, pointing a camera in my face, I’m not sure what I would have looked like, but it wouldn’t have been pretty. You would have been sitting at home, with your sweet dog and loving husband, judging me for binge drinking and sobbing during dinner “breaks.”
Project Management Boot Camp broke me, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to look anyone in the eye when I returned to work. (I still can’t look at the CD of photos and video clips they sent us home with.) Luckily, I’m almost as good at (BIG, FAT) white lies as I am at blog titles.
“It was a fantastic learning experience!” I said to my new manager the following Monday, staring at the cracked leather on my left boot.
“I would definitely recommend it!” I wrote, when the training department sent around a survey two days later.
Written by Julie Davidoski, Certified Project Manager (CPM)