Being British, I am often plagued by thoughts of potentially embarrassing situations and how to avoid them. Being me, not only am I plagued by such thoughts, but even by just thinking about them, it is as though I am sending a silent signal to the fates to manifest those situations into real-life.
Waitressing was a part time job I had when I was younger. This presented me with an opportunity for many, many red-faced situations. For example, if I was carrying a tray of drinks I would think , ”don’t drop this, don’t drop this” and then automatically my hand would shake and then I would drop the tray. This didn’t really affect my work life back then as it was just a part time job during uni and of course my degree would propel me into the starry world of fashion, darling. Unfortunately, things only got worse (as you know from reading the blog) and my life went from dropping a tray of drinks to flashing medical professionals to kissing my boss on the mouth. Sadly, this incident wasn’t at the office party after a few Babychams. Oh no, this was during the cold, horrible, sober day.
The three kisses greeting in Holland is a tradition that took me quite some time to relax about. I was all for the one kiss greeting and I was just about able to cope with the occasional unexpected two kisses, but three kisses? These Dutch are nuts, I thought. Anyway, I got used to the three kisses thing and after a few months in Holland, I was handing them out like a pro (as in ‘professional’, just to be clear).
Most people stick to the three kisses. I like that. It is predictable and safe. Then you get the wild card greeters. Those that like a kiss and a hug. I don’t like that. However, the worst of the greeting offenders is the hugger. What’s that about? I end up kissing their ear and then having a bad hug. It’s patronising and nobody feels good about it afterwards. It’s an effing mine-field of random greetings out there.
With this cocktail of greetings in mind, I can start with the story.
It was my last day of work and I was saying goodbye to everyone. Pretty much all of my colleagues are Dutch so I could be confident in the three kiss ritual. Of course the usual huggers were there, but I had already established those criminals a few months ago, so I was prepared. I had finally kissed and hugged everyone that I needed to and then, as if fate was plotting to catch me off guard, my boss steps out of his office. A Brit also, people assumed that we would have an instant bond. Well, we didn’t. Over the two years in my job I spoke to him three times, and one of those times was to ask him if he knew where the toilet was. Safe to say, I didn’t leave a lasting impression on him. Until now.
So, we have a painful chat, some uncomfortable formalities (from his perspective, what can he possibly say to someone who, in a whole two years, only interacted with him about the toilet location?) and then we both knew the moment had arrived.
I could see it in his eyes – the three kiss predicament weighed heavy on his mind too. I mean, should we go back to the one kiss greeting of our people, or go Dutch? Well, there was no more time to deliberate. He approached me and, in a micro-second of non-thought, instinct sent me back to the one kiss format. He went for the three kiss. Uh oh. He went in for kiss number two, and as I had already pulled back, he kissed my ear. Realising my one kiss choice, he stepped back. Me realising that he had chosen to favour the three kiss, and not wanting him to feel uncomfortable, I went for him again and kissed him. Bad timing on my part – and total surprise on his – meant that my well-intended kiss done to avoid mortification, landed right on his mouth. This had gone worse that I could have possibly imagined. I then tried to dissolve the tension by making some joke about this being as uncomfortable as the morning after the night before. That didn’t help.
On the plus side, I won’t be remembered as the girl who asked where the toilet was.