Home » Happenings » Tactless me – The day I put my foot in my mouth

Tactless me – The day I put my foot in my mouth

Embarrassed me I agree I have some flaws but being tactless is not what I am known for. Not until today. It all began with an email that landed in my in-box. Here is what happened.

It was a festival day (The harvest festival of Pongal) and I was busy organizing what needed to be done for the puja. Obviously I was not logged in to my work email but kept tabs on the email client on phone that regularly updates my email as and when they arrive in my in-box. I represent the interests of a web design company from India in Singapore and part of my responsibility is to answer emails and send quotations for project enquiries.

When the phone vibrated indicating that I had new email, I opened it to read.  It was an enquiry from a blogger asking for a quote to redesign her blog.  She had marked a link to her blog for us to check before we sent her a quote.

Typically, I would wait to log in on my computer to check links but this one was from a blogger and the link was to a food blog. To point to a blog to someone who blogs about food (too) and expect her not to look up the blog pronto, is like giving a bone to a hungry dog and asking him to chew on it later…or something like that. The blog topic piqued my interest and before I knew it, I was on her blog checking the contents.

Excuse me for digressing here but I think you will need a little background information before you appreciate what happened next. I am extremely sensitized to errors in English grammar, sentence structures, (not so much to punctuations or typo), sentence fragments, verbiage, phrasing and similar errors in written English.  I have a very canine sense when picking errors in English the way a dog’s olfactory receptors can pick scents. I was not like this until about a decade back when an opportunity to be an English language trainer saw me in a boot camp of learners who were together working on losing their ingrained errors in English, finding new ways of writing; speaking and picking errors in other peoples English.

So there I was glancing at the content and you can guess what jumped out at me. Without giving it another thought, I passed a nasty remark (“Terrible blog”) and did not realize (until much water had flowed over the dam) that I had replied to her email with that comment instead of forwarding it to my colleague in India for his opinion – which is what I typically do, in such cases.

A few minutes later, my phone vibrated with a new message notification and I was in disbelief when I saw the same blog owner respond with a ‘What do you mean terrible blog?’  

Have you heard the term ‘break into a sweat ’? I experienced it today. Just when the realization of the goof up dawned upon me, I panicked.  It was not because I feared for my life, or that the blogger was coming to look for me for a justification but just the fact that I was so careless caused a few minutes of panicky sweat.

My first thought was to not mention this email exchange to my colleague. Why make it known to more people how careless I was?  My next thoughts were to ignore the email and not respond to this blogger. Let her assume that her email was never read.  Just when I was weighing my options, I get another ping on my phone from the same blogger that read- “Is their [sic*] any way u [sic*] can help me to [sic*] make my blog look better? ”

That is when I decided to do the right thing.

I wrote an apology to her (Sorry, the comment was not meant to be sent to you. But since I have sent it to you, may as well say why I said that. You have to correct plenty of English errors in your blog.) I followed it up with an email to my colleague, coming clean on the goof up. Thankfully for me, he is blessed with a fantastic sense of humour and sent me a blunder-o-blunder comment in keeping with the theme of today’s festival. (The moment the milk boils over and bubbles out of the vessel, the tradition is to shout of “Pongal-o – Pongal)

I have heard back from the blogger a few more times today, but none of the emails are bordering on hate or any other intense negative emotion. I am guessing I saved my reputation by offering an apology.

Have you got into a similar situation when you have said anything tactless or embarrassing? Here is your chance to come clean. Share your experience!

*sic – is used when writing quoted material to indicate that an incorrect or unusual spelling, phrase, punctuation, or meaning in the quote has been reproduced verbatim from the original and is not a transcription error (that is, it appeared thus in the original).

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3 thoughts on “Tactless me – The day I put my foot in my mouth

  1. Had to learn to keep my big trap shut several times. The errors jump out alright. As a blogger now, I make some and get all het up about it – those posts that just have to be said when there’s not enough time to proof read…you know, those!

    Well, you did the right thing. The blogger knows more from your feedback than a lot of gushy, unreserved praise. He/she is better off. And that is how one gets a good night’s sleep! 😀

  2. E-mail goof ups are all so common- most centered around using the right option between REPLY, REPLY ALL and FORWARD. My office email client offers REPLY WITH HISTORY and REPLY ALL WITH HISTORY too as if the first 3 were not enough !! Between these five options choosing which one is best for which situation is by no means a trivial task. So you are definitely not alone. We have had people send entire email chains full of sensitive information to external customers just because the last mail of the chain looked innocuous. I have got mails where I am bitched about deep down below in some forward which was supposed to have been noticed and deleted but wasn’t. I am sure I have goofed up myself despite being very careful about emails.

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