Did you remember to engage your brain this morning?

Despite trying to be conscientious and considerate, I do, on occasion, make errors of judgement. So far, none have been fatal, but some are humorous (at least to me). Here are some faux-pas I have made over the years that I find amusing.

I returned home one afternoon around 14:30 and found a message on my answering machine from a friend in Japan. Doing a bit of quick math, I added 12 hours to the current time and arrived at 20:30 – 21:00 Japan time. I called her and was greeted with a very groggy "Moshi, moshi" at which point I realized ... oops ... it is not 21:00 local time, but 03:00. I apologized and let her get back to sleep.

Another time, I was over at a friend's house for dinner and I noticed his wife had a rounded belly. I congratulated her on being pregnant. She replied that she was not pregnant just overweight. Oops.

I later did something similar several years later when I asked an overweight and pregnant coworker when she was due. She told me she had given birth several months previous. Double oops!

More recently, I noticed another female coworker seemed to be putting on weight. Her face was fuller, but I didn't say anything. Then I was speaking with her and noticed she was developing a belly like so many of the male programmers. I still did not say anything. When it was announced she was taking a year off, I approached her and asked why? She said, "Haven't you noticed?" She was pregnant (and gave birth to a beautiful boy).

Finally, several months back, I was in Loblaws (a major grocery chain) and was looking for something. I couldn't find it, so I approached two people, a young man and an older woman, who seemed to be fussing over a product display. Both had black pants and one was wearing a red short sleeved shirt and the other a black short sleeved shirt - colours I have seen store employees wearing. I approached them for assistance. I asked my question. They didn't quite get it, as I observed English was not their mother tongue. I asked again and as I looked them over, I realized they were not store employees. I quickly apologized and took my leave. Did I mention they were Latino? No doubt, I left them with the impression of this stupid Gringo who thinks visible minorities must be hired help and not customers. sigh.

Comments

KayMac said…
ugh. i once sent an email complaining about someone. I hit reply to all, but never checked who all included. you got it. that cured me of disparaging people in email.
Richard said…
kaymac: oops! I hope that person didn't hold a grudge.
b said…
Oh, wow! I have heard similar stories about pregnancy inquiries made to overweight women. I've been in similar situations where I really cannot tell if someone is pregnant, recently had their baby, or have just gained weight. I always opt to say nothing until they offer information. But even that is awkward!

Great post and great recall!
Richard said…
breal: we can always try to be carful, but we can't please everyone. I remember once asking a married friend of mine if she wanted children. She snapped at me that this was a tactless question because some women want children and can't have them and would be hurt by my inquiry. I meekly apologized and mumbled I was sorry she couldn't have children. To which she replied, "Oh, no, I can have children, I just don't want any."

She was a great friend.
b said…
Very true. We will never please everyone. It is impossible to fully know and understand why something can be offensive to one person and not another. And the alternative, to only engage in small talk (although that is not exempt from potential offense either!) is a miserable alternative.
Richard said…
breal: small talk is only an option for those who have mastered it. I want to move into meaty conversations, banal chit-chat about the weather doesn't cut it for me.

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