A Case of Mistaken Identity

Ever have one of those days where everything goes wrong? Where you oversleep and miss breakfast? Where you’re late for work and are on the boss’s bad side? For the third time in a week? I watched a day like that unfold, but not from a safe enough distance.

I swear it wasn’t me. If it had been me, you would never be reading this. I was an accomplice of sorts, but I didn’t start the whole mess. Please believe me.

I’d like to introduce you to my co-worker, Stephanie. She and I shared an office a few years ago. Names have been changed to protect the innocent, or in this case the not proven guilty. Stephanie was a sweetheart, though maybe a little flighty. She meant well, and she tried hard, but our boss was not her biggest fan. Stephanie was the one who showed up late at least a couple of days a week because her car wouldn’t start, and she had been sent home a couple of times for Dress Code Enforcement, but she never did anything really bad. Except for once.

I remember her dashing into the office, late and breathless. I don’t remember what the excuse was. I do remember that she was complaining because she missed breakfast, and she’d had to pack one. She’d have to be super sneaky because we weren’t supposed to eat at our desks, and our boss was just around the corner. I was busy with my own stuff, so I tuned her out. Until…

“Oh, my gosh! Oh, no! Oh, no! Oh, no!”

Considering the source, that could mean anything from “I just sawed off my leg and fed it to a shark,” to “My roommate ate all my Captain Crunch,” so I still didn’t pay her any mind. I think it was the frantic whispered swearing that finally made me look up from my reports.

Stephanie’s eyes were as big as grapefruits, her face bloodless and pale. “I am so fired” was all she could say. Β And she was right. Violation #346 sat right there on her desk.

On her way out of the house a few minutes earlier, she had reached into the refrigerator for this:

Refreshing! Delicious! Orange juice!

But sitting on her desk was this:

MMM. Tastes like hops. And unemployment.


Yeah, that. And did I mention that we worked in a preschool? A federally funded preschool with rather a poor view on its employees consuming alcohol for breakfast? With a boss sitting just around the corner?

I didn’t know whether to laugh or pretend I didn’t know her. That’s not true. I laughed. Quite a bit, actually. And then I got worried because though our boss’s sense of humor had been surgically removed years before, she was pretty darned good at sniffing out shenanigans. We heard her coming down the hall.

I like to think of myself as a quick thinker, but honestly, the Three Stooges would have handled the situation with more aplomb than Stephanie and I did.

Given that Boss Lady lacked Β mind-reading talent and the ability to see through walls, we could have:

a) stuffed the can in a desk drawer until Boss Lady went to the bathroom and then taken it to the dumpster

b) put it back in the bag and walked it to the dumpster

c) hidden it in a purse or brief case

d) dropped it into a garbage can and covered it with, well, garbage

Here’s what we did instead:

She freaked out and threw it to me like it was on fire. I threw it back at her like I didn’t want to be on fire. Or fired. She fumbled and dropped it on the floor, then accidentally kicked it. I grabbed it and pushed it into her hands, she thrust it back at me. I was quitting anyway, so couldn’t I just take one for the team? Finally, I tucked the thing into my bra (don’t ask) and walked very carefully outside and tossed it in the dumpster.

Never let it be said that I don’t work well under pressure.

32 thoughts on “A Case of Mistaken Identity

  1. HILARIOUS!!!!!! And way too close to home: when I was pregnant with my son AND working in a public high school in a rather upscale community, I, too, was rushing to get out the door and grabbed a can of my husband’s Rolling Rock instead of my can of Schweppes Ginger Ale. Horrifying, but at least I had the pregnancy makes me dumb excuse!!

  2. Hey I also had a boss once whose sense of humor was surgically removed. How could you not laugh at the beer? I mean, some kids probably bring them in their lunches w/ a little straw like the juice boxes. Once I forgot to put anything in my child’s lunch bag . . . at all. I can only imagine her expression as she opened her lunch and realized I was the worst mother in the entire universe. I’m not sure if including a beer would have been much worse.

  3. BC: This story was delightful! Being well-endowed myself I can totally imagine being able to hide a can of beer in my bra which made your story even funnier. These type of stories help us not take ourselves too seriously. Thanks for the chuckle.

  4. Back when I was single I had this terrible quirk. Every once in a while I would sleep in & be late for work. Now this is not out of the ordinary, it happens to the best of people. But, if I sleep in one day, I will also sleep in the following day, so I am late for work 2 days in a row. It never fails! It finally got to the point where I would warn bosses this would happen. After sleeping in once, I would get myself into such a state worrying I might do it again I would barely sleep & fall into my deepest sleep just before the alarm would ring & sleep through the alarm. So then I would sleep in the next morning too! I hate it, but it cannot be helped. Now I have a hubby who is so annoying in the mornings he would never let me sleep in.

  5. By the time I got to the part where you mentioned this took place in a preschool, I’d forgotten that you mentioned the two of you shared an office. So I imagined all this happening in a preschool classroom and couldn’t figure out how you managed to get all the kids to keep it a secret.

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