A wise man once told me his most important rule was that his employees recognize when they made a mistake and come clean with a good old “I f***ed up,” so that the issue could be dealt with and moved past.
I was one of his employees, and that rule has been liberating.
It doesn’t mean that I feel liberated in the moment of screwing up, though!
Last night was not my night. All was going well on an average summer Thursday evening at the restaurant I serve at, until I communicated poorly with a fellow server and his customer ended up having to wait an extra 10 minutes for their meal.
In an attempt to repair the damage, I waited in the kitchen for the new meal to be ready, eager to get it to the waiting customer ASAP. In my excitement at seeing a pizza put in front of me, I foolishly took the pizza without double-checking that it was indeed the one I had been waiting for.
Several minutes later, after the majority of the pizza I served had been inhaled by the hungry guest, questions started surfacing about a missing pizza. When asked directly, I said I did not know anything about it. To my mind, which had been solidly in must-fix-problem-now mode, the chef had placed the pizza he knew I had been waiting around for right in front of me, so I clearly was supposed to take it, so I did.
When I walked through the kitchen for another reason a few minutes after being asked about the missing pizza, I was met with the chef’s frustration: I had, indeed, taken the wrong pizza. I was meant to serve a sausage margherita pizza. The one I stole was a bechamel pizza and had no sausage on it.
Even worse, the kitchen was temporarily out of pizza dough and bechamel sauce and the rightful owner of the bechamel pizza had been waiting for some time.
The new girl strikes again.
What can you do in such a situation but put on your humble face, throw up your hands, and say: “I f***ed up and I’m sorry!”