Friday, October 27, 2006

A trip to the karmic toilet

“But five hundred dollars isn’t even going to cover the cost of the food,” said my contact at the City Club of San Francisco.

“I know,” I replied grimly. “But it’s all we’re prepared to offer you at this point.”
I walk to the restroom in the exhibit hall after that decidedly unpleasant conversation.


I’m not in the stall for two seconds when my mobile phone slips out of my hand and falls right into the toilet.

Without a thought, I reach in and grab it.
Instant karma.

It’s been the hallmark of my 39 years on this planet.

When I do something bad, the Universe immediately pays me back in spades.
I know what you’re thinking: Ew. Ick. Yuck.

And of course, the obvious: Why didn’t you just leave it there?

I’m with you. All of the above, and then some.

But it was submerged for less than a second so I thought it could be saved somehow.
Remember the Code Red Marketing Emergency from last Friday that bled over into Saturday?

Well, on Monday it turned into a Karmic Event that registered 10.0 on my personal Richter scale.

It’s a long story so I won’t bore you with the details. But I found myself in an ugly, unbelievably impossible situation.
The phone had drowned of course. It was a bad, bad feeling.

I’m out of town for a trade show with co-workers, business partners, and vendors who can no longer get in touch with me. Their contact information (along with numbers for all my friends and family members) literally went down the crapper.

I knew why it happened. And I knew there was only one way to fix it.
Hi [Contact at City Club],

After speaking with you for that last time yesterday, I went into the bathroom and accidentally dropped my phone in the toilet. I tell you this not as further confirmation that I am a raging idiot, but to let you know that the concept of karma is not lost on me.

Our behavior in response to your truly stellar customer service was unprofessional. Reprehensible is more like it. On behalf of ________, I hope you’ll accept my sincere apology. I am so sorry for the stress and frustration we caused. I was put in an awful position by a person who is clearly irrational and the source of this entire ugly situation – and I should’ve done what I knew was right rather than listening to him and passing the bad situation along to you.
Maybe it’s the latent Catholic in me, but I set myself up for further self flagellation by sending out another e-mail the next day:

There's nothing quite like admitting you're a complete idiot to all of your friends and family.

I dropped my mobile phone in a toilet on Monday. All of the contact information I have for you literally went down the crapper. When you have nothing better to do, please find it in your heart to send me your phone numbers (home, mobile, work, whatever.) I'd really appreciate it.

I gotta go wash my hands for the bazillionth time since Monday...hope you're having a better week than I am...thanks.


It turned out to be an interesting social experiment.

My chick friends were generally sympathetic and helpful. On the other hand, here’s a response that is representative of the decidedly unsympathetic messages from among my more brutish acquaintances:

"No. When I want to talk to you; I'll call you."
But Heather, don’t you keep a back up of your phone numbers somewhere? You’re in the IT business, for the love of Pooh. You should know better.

Yep. Thanks. Gotcha.
So, here are some lessons I pulled out of my trip to the karmic toilet:

1) Follow your gut and do the Right Thing, even when someone in a position of power pressures you to do otherwise.
2) If you must take your phone into the bathroom, put it in your pocket before approaching the bowl.
3) You can never wash your hands too much.
4) An honest, heartfelt apology is the only remedy for a karmic catastrophe.
I am listening to: Elton John – Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word
I am reading: Today's Steinberg
And I am: Forgiven


you know who... said...

"brutish acquaintance"..??
Stop flirting with me!
Sweet-talk and cute little pet-names like that wont work with me.