Random but possibly valuable advice for avoiding an embarrassing moment at work

Odds are, if you are going to walk around with red furry handcuffs and a vibrator in your purse, someone is going to find out.

mag3737 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

It will most likely be your boss.  I know because it happened to me.

It was a long time ago, thank goodness, but the memory is one of those ones that stay fresh like the day it happened.

It was the day of my summer work party. A group event away from the office that would start with a pep talk from a few executives (and some deadly boring Power Points as it turned out) followed by cocktails, snacks and a major league baseball game.

I hadn’t been to a lot of corporate ‘parties’ so even though attendance was mandatory (never a promising sign I’ve since learned), I was looking forward to a night out!

I was the property manager of a small shopping centre in one of the ritziest areas in town. I had one last meeting before it was time to head down to the stadium for the party. The meeting was with a restaurant tenant.

My tenant and I were discussing something surprisingly contentious, like why the restaurant can not use passenger elevators for transporting garbage (property management is a strange business and you need to worry about all sorts of things you normally wouldn’t think of like the total foulness and wear and tear of garbage on elevators etc). The owner’s son, who ran a catering and events off-shoot of the restaurant, came into the meeting room.

“Hey Christine,” said the son, totally not caring that he was interrupting. He handed me a buzzing envelope. “You’re invited to the Naughty Girl wine launch.”


I opened the envelope, and emptied it onto the table. It was a vibrator. It was shaking all over the table.  An invitation was attached to it with furry read handcuffs.
Father and son thought this was hilarious! They could barely contain themselves.

I had no idea how to react but tried for cool indifference, fumbling to turn the thing off. It was ricocheting off the table and making an unbelievable racket.

It was incredibly awkward!

“Seriously though,” said the son when he had stopped giggling. “What do you think? These are our invitations for Naughty Girl Wine. We’ve sent them to all the media.” He was quite proud.

“Wow.” I answered shaking my head, still wrestling the jittery sex toy to find the ‘off’ switch.

I finally succeeded and the buzzing stopped.

I could feel that my face was bright red but I was still aiming for ‘unruffled’ to show my tenants how cool and in control I was.

I looked at my phone and saw that it was time to end the meeting. I had to get to the summer party! Excellent timing. I needed to get out of there!

I threw the ‘invitation’ in my purse and headed back to my office to meet up with my team.

We made it to the Dome just in time and lined up to show our tickets so we could get to the private box that had been rented for the party.

Everyone was there, my boss and his boss were right behind me. The receptionist from my office was immediately beside me. I don’t remember who was ahead of me but as I watched them go through, I realized that my bag would be checked and remembered about the “invitation”.

I dangled the bag low, close to the ground and held the ticket out with my other hand, hoping to slip through unchecked.

“Miss.” the bag checking security lady called gently. Then, “MISS! I NEED TO CHECK YOUR BAG.” Her tone was a little menacing and it was clear that I was going to have to let her search my bag OR ELSE. Everyone sort of stirred and drew closer to find out what was causing the commotion.

And that was it. There it was for all to see. My boss. My receptionist. Everyone.

The one and only time that I have walked around with anything like the ‘invitation’ in my purse was also the one day that my bag would be publicly searched in front of my boss.

What are the odds?

The flush of new friendship

Striking new friendships in mid-adulthood can be sort of awkward – kind of like dating – and each interaction will either be the last or lead to the next, slightly more meaningful interaction.

A couple of months ago, the combined forces of a lengthy plane delay (nine hours stuck in Tampa airport!) and our children, caused us to meet a very nice family. The shared situation and the fun our kids had playing for at least five of those nine long hours opened a window to a possible new friendship.

We kept in touch when we were back in Toronto.

They came to our house for muffins. It went well.

A few weeks later, they invited us for an early dinner. We accepted.

It seemed like we were well on our way to making new family friends!

On the evening of the dinner, we arrived at their beautiful home about twenty minutes late (aka about as close to on time as we get). The children all ran off to play right away, leaving the adults in the kitchen to chat.

It was going well. The conversation was just starting to flow with a brief exchange about our mayor, Rob Ford (in Toronto right now, “Can you believe he [insert crazy-deed-of-the-week]??” is the conversational equivalent of: ‘Hi. How are you?’; and “Who on earth voted for that guy?” is like saying: ‘Fine, thanks. How are you?’) Right as we were about to all agree that Rob Ford is definitely unbelievable  (Translation for rest of world: ‘Nice weather we’re having!’) our two year old waddled into the kitchen with a diaper that was ready to explode.

I scooped the kid up, and grabbed my supplies.

I asked if there was a plastic bag I could have to dispose of and seal the load-bearing dipe but our hostess insisted that I must just bring it back and pop it into her compost bin. In the kitchen. Under the sink. Where we were all standing and eating hors d’oeuvres. I headed to the powder room with my smelly spawn.

My daughter instantly tensed up in the tight quarters of a two-piece washroom (unfortunately, we do not have a powder room or any washroom conveniently located on our ground floor, and being in diapers, she has zero appreciation for such things anyway) and refused to lie down with her head under the sink.

“Fine,” I said. “We’ll do this standing up.”

And with the  toilet poking into my back, I wrestled her out of the dirty diaper and into a clean one. It was going well but the used diaper was extremely full. Really, really, really full.

I thought about how I might wrap it in a way that would  somehow make it appropriate to place it in the middle of a dinner party. Nothing reasonable came to mind. I decided that it would be best (for everyone!) to flush the contents first.

I emptied the diaper into the toilet then wrapped it into a tight, tidy ball for the green bin, feeling sure I had done the right thing.

Until I flushed.

The water splashed around but not everything disappeared and the water didn’t really go down.


“Poo!” shouted my daughter.

I flushed again and the water rose higher to just an inch below the rim.

Crap! Crap!! Crap!!!

I admit that a few crazy thoughts went through my head including:

  • leaving and never looking back (I would take the kid and just walk out the door, the rest of our family would catch up with us eventually at home)
  • closing the lid and hoping that it wouldn’t be discovered for a few days
  • flushing again and hoping for the best despite the odds
  • starting a small fire that could adequately distract from the situation.

But realistically none of the ‘solutions’ would work:

  • I would have to live with an angry family
  • our hosts would almost certainly know it was us that had left the ‘gift’ in their toilet
  • another flush would ratchet this problem up to disaster level almost instantly
  • no matches.

I called out to my husband, Michael, who is great with this sort of thing (his ability to handle gross situations is a quality that I could never have known he possessed or imagined how much I would value prior to having children). He recognized my emergency tone and came right away.

“Can you secretly ransack this house and sneak us a plunger?” I asked through the cracked open door while simultaneously thwarting my toddler’s attempts to re-flush and flood the entire ground floor.  She was getting a little crusty about being trapped in the washroom with me.

“What?” He looked confused.

Our child, never one to miss an opportunity, pushed her way through the open bathroom door, tights still around her ankles, and tottered towards the kitchen and our hosts.

“We need a plunger,” I repeated, opening the door the rest of the way so he could see for himself.

“Shit!” he said, stating the obvious. “Okay, I’ll be right back.” He headed for the kitchen where he (to my horror even though realistically there was no way we were going to be able to locate a plunger without them knowing and they had to have  already figured out that something was wrong) requested a plunger.

Unpleasantly shocked or not, they were quick to provide the necessary equipment and Michael de-clogged the toilet.

It felt longer but we had been there all of twenty-five minutes at this point. Dinner was in another twenty and we were all back in the kitchen again trying to move forward with the evening.

I don’t think that there is ever a time in a relationship (any kind of relationship) when it is ideal to clog someone’s toilet and doing so on your third ‘date’ probably does not bode well for the future. But we actually had a nice time and shit really does happen and maybe we will see them again.

You never know.