Yesterday, I fucked up big style. It all started with a submitted 'incident report' concerning a precious pathological sample that went missing during transport. Said sample was eventually located and everyone breathed a sigh of relief and patted each other on the back for being good fellows. But, as we subsist in a no blame culture, we are encouraged to submit reports even if the problem gets resolved in a manner deemed satisfactory. This would come under the designation: 'near miss'. And of course, if we didn't record it somewhere there would be no one to blame, would there? No 'blame culture' is just meaningless jargon for: 'who can we blame?'
The boss volunteered me to fill in the necessary paperwork. So off I scurried to my haphazard office conveniently located next to the faecal waste sluice. I knew there was a programme somewhere on the departmental drive dedicated to this sort of thing and therefore I searched diligently until I encountered an application suitably titled: 'SERIOUS INCIDENT REPORT. Twas rendered in large, red, bold font and I knew immediately that I'd found the rightful repository for our near mishap.
Dutifully I filled in the various drop down boxes and free text cubicles. I started to have fun and inserted a few grammatical flourishes. I even managed to slip in 'albeit' and 'hitherto' into the text. Today was a good day. Finally, I espied a drop-down choice regarding the seriousness of the incident. I pondered deeply as my finger hovered over the respective options. In the end, I opted for: 'CRITICAL EVENT' in bold shininess. Yea, potentially it could have turned out rather nasty and I'm drawn to shiny things or anything that glitters in the sun if truth be told. I hit the submit button and went home to my cosy warm house to sleep the sleep of the just and self-righteous.
Whilst abed, the programme whirled away in the dark chasm of computer land until it came across the embedded code: 'CRITICAL EVENT'. Somewhere in mid suburbia a middle manager was contacted and informed of a code red situation. He considered the matter for quite a while before calling his manager, who called his manager. Thus the 'situation'. continued up the greasy sullied chain of command until at about 1.30am a frantic call resonated on a cell phone strategically placed on a tastefully bedecked cabinet athwart the CEO's ornate super king sized bed.
Once the CEO figured out that the prime mover in the whole sorry/soggy episode was a geneticist in one of his minor research departments he phoned my boss about 2.30am. The boss was none too pleased and phoned my cell phone in order to illuminate and throw light upon this dark and ponderous conundrum. Of course, my phone's battery was completely drained ( no one ever phones me- ain't dat sad) and so the boss had no recourse but to drive the 30km to my palatial abode. He banged on the door and rang the bell with furious abandon. All was to no avail as earlier that night I had quaffed deep of a soporific sleeping draught (double positive ) of laudanum and alcohol and consequently was adrift in an ochre sea of oblivion. He wrongly surmised that I'd buggered off to my mistress's apartment (rent: $450 per week, but I'm a sucker for red heads). Yea, thankfully the boss is not privy to such personal and private information. Standards need to be maintained otherwise they tend to leak out of the sides. I've digressed.
After a delightful night’s rest, I awoke refreshed and invigorated, I broke my fast with a good hearty repast comprising: bacon, eggs (poached), sausage, pig’s pud, hash browns and sautéed mushrooms washed down with strong black coffee with a tincture of fine brandy. Suitably imbued with sustenance I toddled off to work and arrived at my department at a sedate and civilised 9.30am. As I approached my office I noticed the boss conversing with a gaggle of suits and expensive haircuts. The boss looked harassed and unkempt and shouted out: "Dr Saxon, in my office, now"! The lead suit chimed in: “Mr Mugumbo (not his real name), I want a full report on my desk, by noon". As the lead suit turned on his heels he was followed by an assortment and coterie of middle management lackeys. Within a thrice they had dispersed/disappeared like a fart in a colander.
Once ensconced in the boss’s well-appointed office he proceeded to relate the whole dismal episode. Apparently, I should have filled in the internal departmental incident form and not the ‘serious sentinel’ form which initiates corporate Armageddon. O, we did laugh. Under the circumstances, the boss suggested that I send a grovelling email to a host of middle and upper management types, including the CEO, expressing honest contrition for my transgression. I refused, pointing out that I committed a genuine mistake with no malice intended. I reminded the boss of the 'no blame' company policy and finally, I pointed out that management folk get paid very well for sorting out this sort of shit, especially the CEO who earns in excess of $1,000,000 a year plus a generous bonus. The boss said I should re-consider my response in the light of how this might impact on my illustrious and glittering career. I pointed out that at 62 I couldn’t give a stuff about ‘career progression’ and was on the verge of retiring, anyway. For this, he could offer no rejoinder. After shaking his weary head, he asked me to leave.
Moral of the story: If you do fuck up mightily and refuse to apologise and kowtow to the ‘suits’ have the good sense to ensure that it occurs at the end of your career and not at the beginning.