It’s still a little uncertain who is responsible for the calamitous balls-up at this year’s Academy Awards which saw Moonlight‘s Best Film prize go to La La Land. But, we’ve all made a massive boo-boo at work, right?
It’s difficult to know who to feel more sorry for in the great balls-up that was this year’s Best Picture Oscar. The actual winners, the team behind Moonlight, who had their big moment tainted by having to take the award away from someone else? Or is it those people, the team behind La La Land, who thought they’d won it, only to find out they hadn’t?
Or should we save our pity for Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty, who will forever be associated with one of the most excruciating awards show moments, simply because they had the misfortune of being handed the wrong envelope? And what about all those people watching at home and thinking they’d won the office sweepstake?
If you haven’t seen the full horror of the Oscars finale, it’s here:
So, with that many people to feel sorry for, can we still feel sorry for the person whose mistake it actually was?
It seems, with our contributors at least, that she who is without sin can cast the first stone…
One of the first things they teach you when you’re writing headlines is that you should check that, out of context of the rest of the copy, it can’t possibly mean something else. For a while, journalists in training had a headline I wrote used as a teaching example of what this means.
Because when you headline a story about an old lady being turfed off a hospital ward at 6am, “Family’s horror at gran’s early-morning discharge”, people can read it a different way to the way you meant. Apparently. I was also responsible for not spotting the error that led to the local am-dram community putting on a version of the classic novel The Cunt of Monte Cristo.
I once volunteered to work the camera while a group of students I was teaching made a film promoting life at uni. Except I got the record/stop button wrong and ended up with hours of in-between-takes of me shouting, “IS EVERYONE READY?” and “CUT! THAT’S WAS AWESOME GUYS WELL DONE!” and nothing in between. I did that every day for five solid days of filming.
Lili la Scala
I tried to fake that I spoke French fluently for an audition in Paris. Apparently, French is a tricky language to fake and ‘Franglais’ doesn’t fool anyone…
I once wrote an article about someone who had written a book about Jesse James. Except I called him Jesse Jackson. I still cringe every time I hear Jackson’s name.
When I was working as a PA to a wealthy arts/philanthropist type he asked me to call up the Rt Honorable So and So and ask them something or other. They were out, so I left a message saying, “I’m calling to erm, erm, I, er, can’t actually remember why I am calling. So call me back and I’ll hopefully be able to tell you. Erm, erm…”
I tried to say “Master of the Cottesmore Hunt” in a news bulletin on Rutland Radio. It went wrong…
I worked in a bar when I was 18. On my first day a customer asked for “a Drambuie and a gin and tonic”. I panicked and served him a Drambuie, gin and tonic. He took a sip and called me “a bloody fool”, which I think was unfair because I was clearly an absolute genius.
“I thought I was emailing a friend at work to suggest one of our associates was having sex with his cousin. Except I sent it to the man it was about.”
I once left $25,000 in a briefcase on a pavement overnight when I took it out of a car and forgot to pick it up again. Working for Saudi royalty, it was a float for some flunky trip. Thankfully, it being Saudi, no bugger touched it for fear of having a hand chopped off. But if it had gone I would probably have been accused of nicking it.
When I was a child, we had a lemonade stand. It was quite busy because, with the owners’ permission, we set it up on one of the holes at the local golf course. Rich golfers would pay 25 cents for iced tea and lemonade. We made loads.
My mom did most of the work, as parents do with this sort of thing, and had purchased a bag of ice. She instructed me to take it out and break it up on the driveway, as it was quite solid. I thought I heard wrong so I clarified… take it ‘out’ and bash it up?
“Yes please,” she confirmed.
So I did. I emptied the bag of ice onto our concrete driveway and smashed it up good.
Clearly, that’s not what she meant. Take the bag out… not the ice.
All the adults laughed at me for the rest of the day and I was furious, having just followed some imprecise instructions. Later, fuelled by the need to prove myself, I would become the world’s greatest bartender.
When I temped at an architects’ practice at uni, I accidentally sent a fax the wrong way around, so the company I was sending it to received blank pages instead of the detailed pitch for the multi-million contract they were going for. I did this just before 5pm on a Friday, which was of course the deadline for the pitch.
MCing a gig, I once forgot Susan Calman‘s name as I was about to introduce her to a stage which she was only performing on to do me a favour, to an audience entirely made up of people there to see her.
She was stood less than a metre away from me. I just said, “And the next act is Susan. Erm. Susan. Erm. Susan. Oh fucking hell. Erm. Susan. Erm.” and I went all pink and sweating and thought I was going to cry and no one could work out what was wrong with me and it went on forever and ever and ever and then she said “Calman” and then opened her show by getting the whole audience to chant her full name.
That was the actual opening to her actual show that year (2012). I don’t know if it had been prior to that night or as a consequence. It’s never happened before or since but it did then, like a living nightmare. I’ll never not feel like a moron for it. Still mortified, five years on. But now, I can think, at least I didn’t bring her on as someone else then have to turf them back off stage halfway through their set.
I once left a sexy voicemail on what I thought was my then-boyfriend’s mobile and it was actually the office phone that then read it out in one of those automated voices to the whole office when the boss’s PA was listening to the messages. Awks! I also once sent to print tens of thousands of copies of a magazine with the word ‘cunt’ in, instead of ‘can’t’. Again, awks!
When I was a temp, I accidentally shredded a nice lady’s engraved silver commemorative letter opener thanking her for 25 years’ service. I turned it into tiny little silver shavings and a stump. Broke the shredding machine too.
I thought I was emailing a friend at work to suggest one of our associates was having sex with his cousin. Except I sent it to the man it was about. Oh, and I wrote a financial results article saying this company had made a loss, when really their massive profits had just gone down a little. Their share price dropped quite a bit that day because of me.
When I worked in HR, I invited two people with the same name to one job interview. We had to scrabble around to get extra interview rooms and interviewers. Weirdly, they both ended up with job offers.
I asked a woman at work when her baby was due. Turns out she had it two months earlier.
Working as a Saturday girl in a well-known high street store in the run-up to Christmas, I was put on a special till to sell gift vouchers. The staff member who explained the job to me told me, “The cards with the vouchers in are free.” Only this was Portsmouth, where “free” and “three” are indistinguishable, and I spent the whole day charging customers 3p per gift voucher card.
I once sent the following email to ALL of my contacts:
All the best,
I’m ashamed to say I did once send a text saying that a woman at my office job was “a complete bitch” and I wish she would just fuck right off! Only I sent it to the woman instead of my mate.
Some of Standard Issue's brilliant women's carefully crafted words for your reading pleasure.