Sunday, December 11, 2005

Professional Dilemma

I want to preface this post with a disclaimer. It features embarassing acts from corporate higher-ups, and although I'm certain none of the parties involved are currently reading my blog, who knows whether they might stumble across it in the future. To them, I have to say, "this is funny!" I recognize that as a general rule, it's not wise to relate embarassing stories about one's bosses in a public forum, but given that it's only personally embarassing and not in any way reflective of anyone's professional abilities, there should be no repercussion beyond a little snicker.

We were returning from a successful presentation some 25 miles from our home branch. I was driving, my boss sat in the passenger's seat, and her boss, the regional vice president, sat in the back. Both of the women in my car were perhaps 10 years my senior. As we zipped down the freeway, the three of us had a lively discussion about the business challenges facing our particular team. I was trying to be insightful, and did actually come up with a proposed change to one of our standard operating procedures that both women affirmed was a good idea. It was the kind of change that could only be implemented by executives higher than the vice president, so it wasn't like we were about to start doing it immediately. In any case, I was successfuly impressing my boss and my boss's boss. Although shmoozing has never been my strongest suit, I do recognize the overall importance of being well regarded within any corporate structure.

Then it happened. Looking back, I realize now as I'm typing this, that it might have been the sewage treatment plant under the big highway interchange we had crossed a couple miles before that moment, but that doesn't change the dilemma I thought I was facing. A horrible smell filled the interior of my sedan. One of the two women in my car had farted. It was nasty too. Of course, the windows were all the way up. We were going 75 mph and it was cold outside to boot. Whichever one did it, I thought, knows she did it. Dare I crack the window?

Then it occurred to me that the whichever boss hadn't farted, probably was crinkling her her nose at ME right then. I was the man in the car, and well, men are men. An awkward silence hung in the air with yet-to-dissapate odor. I picked up a thread in our discussion and just started rambling, hoping to distract everybody. I couldn't crack the window. That would be tantamount to blurting out loudly, "Aww man! Who cut the cheese!?"

What do you do in that situation? Maybe I could turn up the fan a little. Nah. That's a little obvious too. Just pretend it didn't happen. Okay. The fart finally faded as farts always do.

As we pulled into the office parking lot, I was stil grateful to be able to roll down the window to use my key card.

I wonder how it would have been different had I been travelling with two men, as is more often the case when talking about upper management in the mortgage industry.