I was very proud to have been invited to a meeting with a few hundred of my coworkers to be recognized for my hard work and dedication after a record sales year in the great company I worked for. Now I am not a big fan of the amount of attention I was about to receive but I felt it best to fight off the nerves and try to enjoy my moment in the sun because I had worked very hard to achieve those goals.
All of the worst case scenarios played through my head like a home movie as I made the drive to HQ. What if I tripped on my way up to shake hands with every member of senior leadership? What if I had to give a speech? What would I say? Would I spew random nonsense until someone graciously put me out of my misery and violently snatched the microphone from my sweaty shaking hand? What if I puked on the CEO?
As always I dismissed those scenarios as far-fetched day dreams that could never possibly happen. “Everything is going to be just fine” I told myself. “You just walk up when they call your name, shake some hands and sit down.” No problem. It was at this point in my drive that I realized that in my daydreaming stupor while getting ready that morning that I had forgotten to put on deodorant. Now on any other day this would not have been really too big of an issue as I do not tend to perspire much under normal work conditions. That being said, this was not going to be “normal work conditions”. I was going to be very nervous and it was going to be a stinky sweat fest. FANTASTIC!! I had to come up with a plan and a logical person would have stopped and bought some deodorant but in my illogical panic induced haze my plan was to go to the bathroom, put hand soap in my pits, layer on a paper towel and hope for the best.
Looking back I see several flaws in this plan and realize that the decisions I make while experiencing this type of anxiety are rarely sound so I should have some type of supervision when situations like this arise. However, hindsight being what it is, I was unsupervised and my imagination was running rampant so that was my plan and that is what I did.
I am sure the room was a comfortable temperature to any normal person but to me it was hotter than a bachelorette party stripper’s waiting room. For those of you who would be foolish enough to wonder how well public restroom hand soap holds up to nervous sweaty armpits I am here to tell you, just don’t. And as for the added barrier of paper towel? Well just don’t that too.
Finally, after what felt like hours of 10 minute intervals thinking, “Oh God it is my turn now.” It was actually my turn. They called my name and read off the list of accomplishments while everyone clapped. I made my stinky way to the aisle to begin my long walk to stinkily shake hands with all of the brass. They were going to hope that I didn’t do as well next year so they could avoid having to endure this stench.
I was half way to my destination when the applause died down. I swear you could hear a pin drop. I felt a sneeze coming. Oh man. SERIOUSLY? I realized immediately all of the things that could go wrong with this situation though I had not played this one out in my head yet. “Easy man. It is just a sneeze. Everything is going to be fine.” I tried to calm myself. But as my mind was distracted trying to settle myself, the monster of all sneezes snuck its way out and I was in no way prepared for what happened in conjunction.
I Snarted. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a snart is what happens with a really big sneeze when you are so distracted that you forget to constrict your sphincter and you fart at the same time. It was a very loud snart. There were a few gasps from the hundreds of coworkers that was soon drowned out by the muffled laughter. In addition, I had inadvertently sneezed into my shaking hand. The same hand I was expected to put into the hand of every member of senior leadership of this fine company I worked for.
I was faced with a few options.
1.) Keep walking. Straight past senior leadership. Out the door. Find a new country to live in.
2.) Shake southpaw, walk out the door and find a new country to live in.
3.) Act like nothing happened and bow instead of shaking hands as is the custom in the new country I was moving to.
The option I went with will be as confusing to you as it is to me. I remembered that I still had the paper towels in my armpits. Without hesitation I reached inside my shirt, grabbed the paper towel from my left pit and blew my nose. I then reached in for the paper towel on the right and wiped my hands “clean” of the snot. Then I shook hands with every disgusted VP, COO, CEO etc… and sat back down in my seat. Where I stayed. Until everyone had left the meeting. Because I had peed my pants.