I normally feel like an awkward person (in many respects), but I especially feel like my clumsy nature shines through when I move to a new place and am put into new circumstances. I moved to San Francisco, I’m starting a new job, and meeting scads of new people. Surely, the best stage for the small papercuts of social situations to strike. To assure you that the Jacklynn that you all know and tolerate is the same-old-same-old, here are five of my city mishaps:
.01 I’m both lucky and unlucky enough to be one of those sorts who gets shuttled to work. A topic that I wrestle with, but that’s not the point of our story today. This shuttling of employees works like a typical bus stop: you wait at designated points in the city for a large bus to come. Not to insult your intelligence, but the normal protocol is to arrive at a comfortable time before the bus arrives, so that when it does, you feel prepared, at ease, calm…this “arriving early” is a small-but-great trick. A lot of people do it. Like, speckled throughout the city you’ll literally see these groups of business professionals (mostly men) in clean, casual clothes and messenger bags waiting in a queue on the corner of streets for their company bus.
Usually I would be one of those proud punctual people on the street corner. But some awful combination of my proximity to the shuttle stop and avoiding feeling like I’m on display makes me frequently late for the shuttle. On the first day of work, I remember seeing it at the top of the hill and then I had to run, neck-in-neck after it in order to meet it at the stop. The people at the stop turned away from their phones to look in fear at whatever was ka-lomping towards them.
“Wow, you ran for a full block,” the driver said to me as I entered. That’s me. It was not the last time this happened.
02. While we’re on the first day, let’s talk about how I got home. I had been orientated all day with slide after slide of how-tos-no-buts-hey-you’re-great. I hadn’t been able to sleep last night and was feeling pretty zombie-like by the afternoon. I yearned to go home and shove my head deep into a pillow. After meeting my team, my manager suggested I go home early. He said the bus should be coming at 4:12p. By the time I got out there, it didn’t come. I asked the coordinator standing outside, he told me 4:32. Lo! I saw a bus with the word ‘Castro’ on it at 4:25 and thought maybe it was the late 4:12 bus. I hopped aboard the teetering bus and immediately felt motion sick. Perfect. I’d just sleep the way there.
Side note: the thing about the bus schedule was that I did not have access to it. Or, I only had an inconvenient access to it. You could only open it on corporate devices which would mean my laptop, which isn’t really ideal for getting out while you’re waiting for a bus. My manager has a corporate phone and he could look at the schedule from an app. He did his thing, looked it up, you know how it goes…
Out of nervousness, I kind of followed the route on my phone. We weren’t going exactly the way I thought we would have, but I also [thought I] knew that buses took different routes. When the bus crossed the bridge to the east bay I thought “oh, plum.” We were probably going a super long way up the East Bay and then we’d have to hook around. The worst! But again: motion sick. Sleeping made it better so I drifted off. At this point, it’s already too late and to make a long story short, but I finally asked a lady on the bus where were were headed.
Not Castro, the neighborhood in San Francisco.
Double plums. By the time I realized this, we had already passed the stop close to the train station. I could have paid for a taxi to a train station and then ridden the train to the city…but I’m kind of a Scrooge and ended up taking the bus all the way back down, waiting 40 minutes, and then taking the correct one up. I got home at 10:00pm.
End of day one.
03. “Alright, Day 3! The first day not just in orientation” Those were my morning sentiments. I liked my outfit, which was a dress Her Lady the Princess Carissa had picked out for me..my hair was curled, and I was even feeling brave enough to wear wedges (I never where heels). I was feeling so optimistic, in fact, had this chapter turned out differently, I might have titled it “Feelin’ Fancy.”
So, yes, I, got off at the wrong stop once I got to work, but I was able to shuffle my way back closer to the right stop, and then it was only more walking than I anticipated having to do in heels to the right building! Things were going great! I walked into the building and there was a classroom right there! What luck! I didn’t even have to get lost in the building in order to find where I needed to be!
It was 10 minutes until the class would start and it seemed relatively empty considering there was supposed to be about 200 of us. Alright, cool, whatever. After taking my seat though, I panicked and though I must be in the wrong classroom and decided to snoop around the area.
The seats were slightly elevated on those blocky, low steps you see around a water fountain, maybe. Not average sized steps, is what I’m getting at. They also had this little rubber strip on the edge of steps to protect the edge of the carpet. On the very last step, the heel of my shoe decided to check this situation out, got caught, and I tripped landing hard on my knees. There was a simultaneous thud of my body and backpack hitting the ground followed shortly by my brand new work laptop, which tried to save itself by leaping out of my hands and bouncing on its side edge.
On all fours, I was thankful that I wasn’t wearing a shorter dress. I was not in pain, but in shock that had just fallen hard on the ground in front of a classroom of people on my second day. They were in shock too. It was dead quiet.
A small voice from somewhere in the crowd: “Are you okay?”
I scramble to collect my laptop, get off the traitorous ground and call out “I’m fine!” in forced cheerful reassurance over my shoulder as I made my exit.
Heavy in my mind and heart was: It was me. I was that person. That painfully embarrassing person on the third day of work.
It was the right classroom and I had to go back in.
Time to break out the long pants again because I also had two dark bruises around my knees for the next week.
04. Two-day design sprint working with people from the London office. I should look nicer, right? We were making intros and the lady had just the classiest outfit on. I especially admired her shoes, which had an interesting shape and strap around the ankle and those rich fall colors that I love. Admiring her shoes made me aware of my own shoes.
So aware, in fact, that I felt like something felt a little different about the sandals I was wearing.
Trying to discreetly peer down, I saw that one of the straps had come off was just flapping at the side of my foot.
I mean, of course it was. Of course it was 9am and I was wearing broken shoes at work.
05. Just so you know, I don’t mean to sound depressing. I find these things pretty funny as a collection of haphazard situations I get into. Like on Wednesday, after putting it off for so long, I decided to try to ship something using the office’s mailing system. Fill out and print the form…alright…obviously its the printer that comes up first on my computer….anndddd…..
I decide to use the campus map to look up the printer after the fact:
It’s in a different building.
On the second floor.
In what looked like a very large conference room.
I imagined a group of people at the climax of their meeting, in near-tears over the amazing strategy they had come up with to revolutionize the world when—crrrrrr, clck clck—the motors of a printer start up and begin working through, not one—but three sheets of a shipping request.
What to do, what to do. My puritan spirit was already feeling racked with guilt by spending two minutes trying to ship something, was I really going to spend another 10+ minutes trying to retrieve my print job?!
PRODUCTIVELY ON SHARP DECLINE!
(This is how how I think).
The request had both my name and my picture on it. Everyone in that meeting would know that I was trying to ship what I had described on the form as a “small toy.”
I thought maybe I should just print another sheet of paper that said “whoops! :(”
…But I didn’t want to waste paper….
Ultimately, with the support of co-worker I had interned with, I did the walk of shame into another building, up the stairs, down the hall, to the printer, to collect from it’s tray? My pride.