WHAT in the WORLD…?

Not sure what's the MOST embarrassing thing in this post - but ALL of it has me in giggles! @sothenstories

So then…I clarify that this post is not intended to make fun of the people mentioned in the post.

Which I’d never do.

It IS intended to make fun of my teen daughter Chloe.

Which I do all the time.

In fact, it’s my life’s work.

But let’s face it, she’s an accomplice to that. She just makes it so easy.

For the purposes of today’s tale, you should know that Mr. V is a very smart, skilled science teacher with grey hair – and an accent from a country whose surnames have so many vowels, everyone just calls him Mr. V.

And now our tale:

As I’m laying down on Chloe’s bed while she puts on her pajamas, I tell her about a vendor’s new employee I met today. “She’s very sharp, capable, professional – dresses beautifully – really very impressive—”

“But…?” asks Chloe, as she climbs into the bed.

“But she ends every sentence with ‘and everything,’” I say. “It’s the oddest thing. I’m used to people saying ‘ya know’ or ‘ok’ repetitively, but I’ve never met anyone who said that. And she kinds of slurs it, like ‘an’ errrthing.’”

“She says it a lot?” asks Chloe.

“Yes! She’ll say, ‘We’ll send you the spreadsheets an’ errrthing, then you can review the figures an’ errrthing so we can get together for a meeting an’ errrthing.’”

“No way!”

“Yes, really! But she’s so professional in every other way, she may not even know she’s doing it. We’re going to be working together a lot — I’m wondering if I could discreetly mention it to her, as a helpful—”

“NO!” says Chloe.

“Just a friendly word of advice? She might appreciate it.”

“No, Mom, you cannot do that! I hate when people tell me I use the word “like” all the time! I know I use it, but I’m like a Valley Girl – I can’t help it!”

‘Like’ a Valley Girl?” I grin. She laughs.

“Well,” I say authoritatively, “Sometimes in business it’s OK to advise people—”

“No, no, no!” She shakes her head vehemently.

I laugh and say, “Yes, it IS OK – hey, don’t you remember that time my friend Carol had to tell her employee that people complained about him stinking? Remember? And she had to tell him to take showers? He was from a different country where they don’t shower that much so—”

“OMIGOD! Like Mr. V!!” she exclaims.

“Oh really? Does he smell a bit—?”

“OH!” she says fervently, “It’s in-TOX-icating!”

Bwahahahahahahaha!

I die laughing.

“In-TOX-icating? The smell is in-TOX-icating?” I ask.

She blushes and blurts, “Yes! Wait! Is that the right word?”

“Chloe, that means you find his scent powerful and exhilarating! Appealing and captivating! Like you’re drunk on his aroma! Like you’re swooning!”

She buries her head in the pillow – mortified!

“Did you mean the smell is ‘in-TOL-erable” instead of ‘in-TOX-icating?’ Maybe? Just maybe?”

She pulls the covers over her head.

I impersonate her voice and add a flirtatious lilt. “Oh Mr. V, come closer, come closer. Your smell is so in-TOX-icating!”

She’s shouting “STOP STOP STOP!” from under the covers — and the bed’s shaking ‘cause we’re laughing so hard.

And you can bet that ever since then, whenever she least suspects it – (and often when we’re in the company of others) – I interrupt the conversation to passionately blurt, “Oh! It’s so in-TOX-icating!”

She always turns bright red and shoots me a fierce look – and I just laugh and laugh and laugh!

— Darcy Perdu
PS I changed his initial to further protect the teacher’s anonymity!

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(What words do YOUR kids mix up? Have you ever had to give constructive feedback on an awkward issue to an employee/coworker?)

For hilarious tales from the front lines of parenting — and my story of the most embarrassing thing I’ve EVER done — buy this rockin’ new book, I STILL Just Want to Pee Alone!
I Still Just Want To Pee Alone at Amazon.com




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Is My Coworker ACTUALLY a Robot? You Decide

I SWEAR This Guy in My Office is a Robot - Do You Agree? #funny #office #robot #humor

So then…Lou (our Finance VP), Henry (our Operations VP), and I approach the gate just in time to hear that our connecting flight home is delayed 30 minutes.

My face crumples in frustration.

Lou’s face twitches in aggravation.

Henry’s face is expressionless because he is a robot.

No, seriously, I have long suspected Henry is not actually human. Always punctual. Never goofs around. Follows all the rules. Never shows emotion. Always approaches problems logically.

Totally serious and buttoned-up. I’m pretty sure he has an Iphone app to schedule his poops.

When the Sales & Marketing crew and I are hootin’ and hollerin’ and carryin’ on, Henry steadfastly ignores us and quietly does his work.

When Lou’s Finance team is stressin’ and sweatin’ over the budget numbers, Henry methodically completes his tasks.

When the salty sailors among us spout profanity at missed shipments or demanding clients, Henry piously looks away to continue his duties.

When we take a longer lunch to celebrate a huge purchase order, Henry remains in his office, writing another Policy & Procedure (most likely regarding maximum time allowed for celebratory lunch breaks.)

He is robot or he is Vulcan. I swear by it.

So now the 3 of us have 30 minutes to indulge in WHATEVER WE WANT — so we quickly scatter, agreeing to meet back at a central table in the food court.

After 2 boring days at the corporate conference and several hours on the first flight, I know what I’m craving – but I can’t locate any hot pilots in an empty travel lounge –

So I settle for second best – the ice cream kiosk. Come to mama, you sweet, creamy bowl of devilish deliciousness!

I plop down at the table with my over-the-top hot fudge sundae just as Finance Lou approaches with his little luxury – a stiff drink. A double, no less!

As I inhale my sugary carbs and Lou savors his liquor, I can only imagine what constitutes a “guilty pleasure” for Henry.

And here he comes, with a roast beef sandwich with lettuce on whole wheat bread.

Well, of course.

He chooses something nutritious and appropriate.

He is a robot.

Just as I’m laughing to myself about our choices, Henry reaches down into his briefcase and pulls out…a small bottle of HOT SAUCE!

(He travels with his own bottle of HOT SAUCE?)

He slathers the spicy sauce all over his sandwich, takes a huge bite and beams — hot sauce dribbling down his chain.

Ahhh, Henry, you’ve restored my faith in your humanity.

Perhaps you are not a robot after all!

— Darcy Perdu

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(OK, quick, you’ve got 30 extra minutes at the airport – what do you do? Massage kiosk? Those weird oxygen bars? Book/magazine? Favorite food or alcohol? Horny flight attendant? Do tell!)

FUNNY NEW BOOK FEATURING SOME OF MY BUDDIES!

Motherhood May Cause Drowsiness Book

If you like funny stories about the tumultuous trials and tribulations of motherhood, this is the book for you!  Motherhood May Cause Drowsiness, edited by Lisa Nolan, features some awesome writers and hilarious tales.  Read Lisa’s post to learn more about this new book!

You’ll enjoy awesome stories like Why Moms Are Too Tired for Sex (Lisa Nolan), 10 Reasons Why a Sleepover Sucks: A Cautionary Tale (Kathryn Leehane), Into the Wee Small Hours of the Morning (Kathy Radigan), Bedtime is Sucky Time (Kate Hall), Sleepless in Menopausal Motherhood (Marcia Kester Doyle), and more!  You’ll laugh – you’ll cry – you’ll love it!  Pick up your copy on Amazon!

You’re Gonna SNURKLE When You See The Email This Guy Sent Me!

So then…I snurkle – which, as everyone knows, is a cross between a snort and a chuckle.

When you see why, I think you’ll snurkle too.

I send this email to a colleague (let’s call him “Bob”):

Could you be more PACIFIC?  #Funny tale of email gone awry!  #humor

His response:

Could you be more PACIFIC?  #Funny tale of email gone awry!  #humor

Um…OK.

Like this?

Pacific - Ocean 429

Malibu Beach is just 20 minutes from my home. I could literally be in the Pacific Ocean in a flash! Does he want me to hop in with my laptop to reply?

Or does he mean like Chandler Bing:

“Could you BE any more pacific?”

Pacific - Bing 265

Yes, Chandler Bing, I COULD be!

Here I am surrounded by Pacific Islanders.

Pacific - Islanders 429

We shall dance on the beach by the light of the moon, roast a pig, and drink Kava made from the ground root of the pepper shrub.

Now, I don’t know this particular colleague “Bob” very well — but I do know that he is educated — and English is his first language.

So what’s up?

It’s possible he means, “Could you be more specific?” – but that can’t possibly be the case since my email clearly outlines the specific information I’m requesting.

So I can only surmise that my email happened to arrive on his computer screen at the exact moment he realized he was dissatisfied with my ethnicity. “Hmm, I’m not diggin’ her CandyAss Caucasian vibe; I wonder if she could be more Pacific. Let me ask.” So he fired off that email.

I’m not sure exactly how to respond.

Should I reply: “What do you mean?”

Or just write “Sure!” and send him the photos above?

Or perhaps, “Please be more Atlantic.”

Or “Please be more specific.”

Or maybe just toss out something random like, “Please be more Presbyterian.”

Or something annoying like, “Please be more accurate in your email responses.”

But I certainly wouldn’t want to offend, since there’s a chance he did mean to write “specific” – and something got in the way – like spell check or day drinking.

So I shall let you decide the best response.

If someone wrote you an email saying, “Please be more pacific” – how would you reply?

— Darcy Perdu

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(When you saw his response, did you snurkle? How would YOU respond to his email?)

DIED Laughing at This Email He Sent to Me - not QUITE sure how to respond!  #funny #email #office #humor

Welcome to So Then Stories: Hilarious True Tales

Do you enjoy Hilarious True Tales about embarrassing kids, exasperating coworkers, vexing relationships, and the ever-perplexing public?  Then you'll LOVE SoThenStories.com!  Come laugh with us!  #funny #kids #office #husbands #humor

Hey, pull up a bar stool and let’s swap funny stories about our embarrassing kids, exasperating coworkers, vexing relationships, and the ever-perplexing public!  This is where I share my bodacious blunders and hilarious true tales – and invite YOU to share YOUR related experiences – so the laughs just keep rolling!

“Hmm,” you may ask, “Are you really funny?”  Well, not to brag (omg, I’m TOTALLY bragging!), but I won 1st Place in the 2014 Nat. Society of Newspaper Columnists competition (Blog Category under 100,000 monthly visitors) – and I won 2 Humor VOTY Awards at BlogHer in 2013 & 2014.  I was even named Humor Writer of August 2014 by Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop!  Woot! Woot!

So pull up a bar stool and start laughing! 
Click the image below to read now – or PIN for later!

TOTALLY Embarrassed in Front of Dr. Fancypants! HILARIOUS True Tale #doctor #medical #embarrassing #funny #teens

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Telling His Teacher a Big Fat Juicy Lie!  #funny #boys #teacher #school #humor

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BOOBIE-trapped -- LITERALLY & Hilariously! True tale when my boob got trapped in...well, you gotta click it to find out! #funny #embarrassing #mammogram #fireman

Click the image below to read now – or PIN for later!

Oh, She Did NOT Just Say That! #funny #school #drama #volunteer #pta #pisces #cosmetics #hair #humor

If you enjoy quick hilarious true tales like these, then please pop your email address right HERE so you won’t miss any of my new funny stories!  I LOVE subscribers!

Thanks!  Darcy Perdu

Completely Illogical, Perfectly Hilarious, Coworker Conversation

Completely Illogical, Perfectly Hilarious Coworker Conversation #funny #expenses #office #humor

So then…I open an email from one of the staff, Shelly, asking if she can purchase an item on the company credit card. I click the link and see this:

I email her:
Yes, you can use the company card.
What is the scale for?
We’ll need to note it on the credit card statement.

Shelly emails back:
It will be mainly for mailing purposes.
Thank you.

I reply:
I think it’s funny how you say it’s “mainly” for mailing purposes.
What other purposes are there for a scale of this kind?
Are you starting a meth lab or something?

Shelly does not respond.

This means either:
a) Shelly does not appreciate my sense of humor
or
b) Shelly is starting a meth lab

What do you think?

Speaking of odd expenses – this reminds me that a few months back, one of the salespeople in my department submitted his expense statement for a Dallas trip that included $30 for a hotel gym fee.

Me: Dude, the company doesn’t reimburse gym fees.

Dan: But I skipped dinner. So the company didn’t have to pay for food — just my visit to the gym.

Me: Based on that logic, I could skip dinner on my next trip and buy an alligator. Would the company reimburse me for an alligator?

Dan: (laughing) You can’t buy an alligator for $30 bucks! Besides, if I don’t spend money on dinner, shouldn’t I be able to spend the money on something else I like better?

Me: What if you like strip clubs better?

Dan: I DO like strip clubs better!

Me: (laughing) But the company won’t reimburse you for strip club admission!

Dan: (laughing) But they should – they really should… (walks away with wistful look)

Then of course, there’s the time I really embarrassed myself with my OWN expense statement blunder!

— Darcy Perdu

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(Should companies just pay a per diem for travel so businesspeople can choose to skip meals and spend the money on something else? Any creative accounting stories to share? IS Shelly starting a meth lab?)

Cherry Popsicle

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – In Fact, Don’t Sweat

So then…Jennifer Hall of Dancing in the Rain invites me to guest post for her series The View From Here where writers share their “unique perspective on life.”  My immediate thought is, “Holy Cow! Does Jennifer’s website have enough ROOM to print my voluminous LIFE philosophy? I could go on for 47 HOURS on this topic!”

But then I decide to focus on just one of my favorite perspectives that I learned from my parents, so click on over to Dancing in the Rain — and while you’re there, check out some of Jennifer’s awesome posts!

Dancing in the RainShe writes some really funny stuff over there, like:
The Romance is Still Alive
Kids do the Darndest Things
When Procrastination is a Good Thing 

Thanks for inviting me to guest post at your site, Jennifer!  — Darcy

Hungover in WHOSE Heels?

Hungover in WHOSE Heels?  #funny  #travel #flight #Boston #heels

So then…just as I settle in to sip my soda at 20,000 feet — I hear the passenger behind me ask the flight attendant, “What’s the weather like in Boston?”

WHAT THE HELL?

This flight’s going to Washington DC!

She says, “Oh, it’s nice in Boston tonight. A little cool.”

I pop up and tap her on the shoulder. “Um, where did you say this plane was going?”

“Boston,” she replies.

“No, Washington DC,” I say slowly.

“Noooo. Boston,” she says.

We stare at each other.

One of us is wrong.

And it’s possible the one who’s correct about where the airplane is going is the airplane employee.

Ah, dammit!

To be candid, I hadn’t wanted to go on this stupid business trip anyway. I love my New York job but what 24-year-old wants to cut their weekend short to fly to DC for a Monday morning conference?  Not me!

“I thought I was on the plane to DC?” I say hopefully. Maybe the pilot can make a U-turn?

Um no.

“Sorry,” she says. “We’re headed to Boston. But let’s see what we can do.”

Angel that she is, she radios down to the airline supervisor who hooks me up with a free flight to DC first thing tomorrow – and a free hotel room in Boston tonight!

SCORE! I’m thrilled I don’t have to pay for it myself — or miss the conference — or admit my blunder to my boss.

When I unpack my overnight bag in the hotel, I realize I brought my business suit, blouse, stockings – and NO SHOES!

I only have the sneakers I wore on the flight tonight!

I can’t possibly attend a professional business conference in a suit, stockings, and SNEAKERS! And of course they don’t sell high heels in the hotel gift shop! And certainly not in a size 10! (Yes, I have feet the size of surfboards!)

Brainstorm!

“Hello, Kim? Guess which of your favorite cousins just landed in Boston and desperately needs to borrow a pair of your size 10 heels? I’ll buy you massive amounts of cocktails in exchange for borrowing your shoes!”

So my big-hearted (and big-footed) cousin Kim drives over to the hotel and dumps 7 pairs of heels on my hotel bed! We pick a pair, then head to the lobby bar for libations.

We laugh, talk, cackle, eat, drink — and drink some more — and finally stumble back up to the room in the wee hours of the morning.

The next day, my head’s splitting as I slip on her shoes, hug her goodbye, and dash off to the airport for my early morning flight.

An hour later, I land in DC – hungover in borrowed heels.

I suffer through the conference – taking a few notes to share with my boss later.

Then I zip back to NY, so relieved that no one need know about my slight detour.

A week later, I receive a note from the accounting department saying, “Your receipts included an airline ticket stub from NY to Boston – and from DC to NY. Please advise how you got from Boston to DC.”

Ah dammit.

I wonder if I can say, “Hey, dudes, chill. It didn’t cost the company any extra money – and just never you mind how I got from Boston to DC. Just be cool, accountants, be cool.”

Probably not.

I figure I’d better “advise” my boss before I “advise” the accounting department.

I’m mortified, of course. At 24, I want to appear professional, well-prepared, and competent.

I hesitantly confess.

My boss bursts out laughing. “You got on the WRONG plane?”

She hops up and pokes her head out the door to yell: “Did you hear that? Darcy got on the wrong plane! She was supposed to go to DC but she went to BOSTON! Bwahahaha!”

My coworkers pop up from their cubicles to cheer, clap, and laugh.

I hang my head on the Walk of Shame back to my cubicle.

Henceforth, I’m mocked mercilessly whenever I go somewhere:
“Have a great trip to Denver, Darcy – or where ever you end up.”
“Need a map to your apartment?”
“Can I help you find the bathroom?”

And THAT’S how I earned the nickname, “Wrong Way Darcy!”

— Darcy Perdu

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(Ever end up in the wrong place? Take the wrong road – get lost – hop on the wrong plane/train/bus/boat? Any other delicate flowers out there with Sasquatch-size feet?)

Hungover Letter to President

Hungover Letter FROM President

Although I’m mercilessly mocked for my wayward ways, I have the good Southern manners to write a thank you note to the President of Eastern Airlines (as shown here).

I share the story of the free flight and hotel room, then write, “I was delighted with the kindness and concern of your employees. I salute your generosity and understanding. Should I ever wander on to the wrong plane again – I hope it’s one of yours!”

Yep, these are actual excerpts between me and the President of Eastern Airlines over the airplane snafu!

FUNNIEST Hotel Conversation EVER!

Funniest Hotel Conversation Ever

So then…I strain to see outside my car window as I’m zipping home, searching for a nice hotel in the neighborhood to recommend to my friend Natalie when she visits next month. I’ve only lived in LA a few weeks, so I’m not that familiar with the area.

Suddenly I crest a curve and see a big beautiful building way up on a hill with a huge sign saying Plum Tree Inn. Most of the building’s obscured by huge trees but it looks really cool.

Natalie’s tired of the chain hotels she stays at for work, so I know she’ll enjoy the local flavor of a unique boutique hotel. But she’s in her late 20’s, like me, so she’s not rolling in cash — and I know I better check the rates.

At home, I kick off my shoes as I call directory assistance, who connects me with the Plum Tree Inn. Then I have the most bizarre conversation with a woman with a thick accent.  And the end of our call’s a real kicker!

Me: Hello, can you please tell me how much it is to reserve a room?

Her: You want reserve room?

(Um, yeah, why else would I call your hotel? I think to myself.)

Me: Yes, is it expensive?

Her: No, no, not expensive. What room you want?

Me: I don’t know, just a regular room I guess. How much is it?

Her: What night you want room?

Me: July 18 and 19.

Her: Which one?

Me: BOTH nights. July 18 and July 19.

Her: BOTH NIGHTS? You want BOTH NIGHTS?

(omigod, why is she so surprised? Is the hotel so bad, no one ever stays a second night?)

Me: Yes, yes, I need a room for BOTH nights.

Her: How many people?

Me: Just one.

Her: JUST ONE?!

(seriously, what is wrong with this woman? Can she not hear me? She’s surprised by everything! Is this her first day on the job?)

Me: (impatiently) Yes, just one.

Her: You want a room for TWO nights for just ONE person?

Me: YES!!

Her: What they want eat?

Me: What?

Her: What one person want eat?

Me: I don’t know! (frustrated) Can’t she just decide when she gets there?

(seriously, has she EVER taken a hotel reservation before?)

Her: OK.

Me: So how much is the room?

Her: Maybe one thousand dollars.

Me: ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS? Are you kidding me?

Her: You want whole room, right? Probably one thousand dollars.

Me: “Probably?”

(do their hotel rates just change on a whim? Are we GUESSING now?)

Her: Depend what eat.

Me: What? Who cares what she eats? How can you charge one thousand dollars for a hotel room?

Her: What? Not hotel. Restaurant.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

And NOW we realize who’s the crazy one.

And it ain’t her.

Just take a moment to re-read that conversation above – and imagine what SHE must be thinking of ME as I ask these questions to reserve a room at her restaurant to throw a dinner party – for ONE person – for TWO nights in a row.

Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Pretty funny, right?

OK, but to be fair – IN MY DEFENSE, YOUR HONOR – why is a restaurant called the “Plum Tree INN?”

Doesn’t “inn” imply hotel? Or bed & breakfast? Or quaint boutique hotel?

Remember? “Mary & Joseph, there’s no room at the INN, so you gotta sleep in the barn?”

Inn = Hotel, people! You’re gonna get some calls for room reservations if you put a “hotel” synonym in your name!

You don’t see Hilton calling themselves Hilton RESTAURANT, do you? No, you do not. They call themselves Hilton HOTEL.

Do you see signs for Barnes & Noble Shoe Stores? No.
Or IKEA Medical Centers? Nope.
How about Victoria’s Secret Movie Theatre? Oh, wait. People actually WOULD go to a place called Victoria’s Secret Movie Theatre. (makes note for future business idea – call Shark Tank)

But you get my point – you can see how I might make assumptions about the services the Plum Tree INN offers, right?

Many years later, I see that the Plum Tree Inn has been torn down. And of course I wonder if they’ve gone out of business because of their fatal branding flaw – “hello, business manager, how about – oh, I don’t know – Plum Tree RESTAURANT?!

But every time I pass that spot, I chuckle to myself to think what that woman must’ve been thinking when I called.

She probably thought I was some sort of crazed Howard Hughes-type character who enjoyed a good meal out, but simply couldn’t tolerate eating around other people. Of course, in LA, there probably ARE some eccentric billionaires who’d rent out a whole restaurant for a quiet meal.

And then I think: what if she had quoted a more reasonable price like $150 a night? I might have made the reservation, still not knowing the building’s true identity.

And I can only IMAGINE the look on Natalie’s face when she showed up with her luggage to “check in” to a fancy Chinese restaurant!

— Darcy Perdu

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(OK, people, ‘fess up! Share some of YOUR bodacious blunders and asinine assumptions! Ever been on one side of a funny misunderstanding? How about some odd or confusing business names? Do tell!)

Surprising Secret My Boss Revealed One Night

The Surprising Secret My Boss Revealed One Night

So then…our boss Kate packs some files in her bag and says, “Hey, are you free for drinks after work tomorrow? I want to talk to you guys about something.”

Becky and I look at each other and say, “Sure.”

Kate says, “Tito’s?”

“Yeah,” we say.

As soon as Kate leaves, Becky says, “I wonder what she wants to discuss.” (Kate’s only a few years older than us – she’s mid-30’s and we’re in our late 20’s. She’s really smart and funny, so we love joking about our clients with her.)

“I don’t know,” I say. “We usually go to Tito’s after work in a group. Sounds like she has something confidential to tell us.”

Becky murmurs, “Yeah.”

“Maybe the company’s getting sold or we’re merging or something?” I suggest.

“Nah, I think it’s something personal,” she speculates.

“Oh!” I exclaim suddenly. “I know what she wants to tell us!”

“Me too,” says Becky.

Me:                  She’s pregnant!
Becky:             She’s gay!

My jaw hits the floor.

“What? Gay? She’s married to Peter!” I say.

Becky says, “Have you ever actually met Peter?”

“No…” I admit. “But I’ve only worked here a couple months. But she talks about him all the time – he works in finance downtown – he travels; they go running together.”

“Yes, but you’ve never actually MET him,” she asserts. “I’ve been here awhile and he didn’t attend the summer picnic or the holiday party because he was on ‘business trips.’”

“Oh, I don’t know…” I say dubiously.

“Well, I guess we’ll find out tomorrow night,” says Becky.

As I head home, I ponder the secret Kate plans to share. I’ve already started thinking about decorations, gifts, and cake flavors. But am I planning a Baby Shower or a Gay Parade?

That night I tell my boyfriend the mystery – and the two different theories.

He shrugs indifferently and asks, “Well, could she be gay?”

“I don’t know! I don’t know any gay people!” I say.

He laughs. “Of course you do,” he says. “You just don’t KNOW they’re gay.”

“Oh. (pause) Really?” I ask skeptically.

I’m from a small conservative town in Louisiana – and I attended college in Des Moines, which is not exactly a thriving metropolis. I’m not very sophisticated, but I sort of figured if I met someone who was gay, I’d know.

He teases me, “It’s not like they’re gonna wave a rainbow flag at you and wear a nametag saying ‘Hi, I’m gay!’”

I laugh. He’s probably right. I probably know people who are gay but I just don’t know they are – which makes me wholly unqualified to determine if Kate is or not.

And of course, I like and respect Kate regardless of her sexual orientation – but it would surprise me so much since she’s MARRIED.TO.PETER!

And no one’s ever come “out” to me before, so I go to the mirror to practice my casual head toss and shrug like “no big deal, man” so she’ll know I’m a sophisticated live-and-let-live chick.

The next day, I keep glancing at Kate to check for a baby bump.

After work, Becky and I meet Kate at Tito’s and order chips and salsa and margaritas.

Kate says, “I feel like I’m close enough friends with you guys to share something personal – I’m gay.”

I shrug and say, “That’s cool.”

But inside, I’m thinking: “OMIGOD OMIGOD! She IS gay! I can’t believe it! I totally thought the news was pregnancy! And did I just say “that’s cool?” OMIGOD I used a tone of voice like I was letting her know that her gayness is “cool” with me! Who am I to give approval over gayness or not? OMIGOD I’m trying to act all sophisticated and nonchalant but I’m coming across like a total moron! THANK GOD Becky gave me a heads up last night so my jaw didn’t drop open IN FRONT OF KATE – and so I didn’t ARGUE with her that she can’t be gay since she’s married to Peter and OMIGOD what IS the story with Peter? Does HE know? Shouldn’t she be telling PETER instead of us? Maybe we’re the practice run for Peter! OMIGOD am I handling this right? Am I frowning judgmentally? Am I smiling maniacally? Do I look confused? I want her to know I’m her friend no matter what she tells us — and that her gayness is fine with me. No, it’s MORE than fine – it’s terrific! I LOVE her gayness! How can I convince her I’m not anti-gay? I’ll tell her I LOVE gays! I’ll tell her I’M gay!”

As I’m whipping myself into an existential liberal crisis, Becky is smoothly thanking Kate for confiding in us.

Kate shares that she encountered some bigotry at her previous company when she was open about being gay, so at the next company, she just didn’t mention her girlfriend. But then everyone at that company tried to fix her up on blind dates. So at this company, she figured she’d just give her girlfriend a different name (and a different gender) and then she could speak freely about their activities, vacations, etc.

She said that worked for awhile, but as she gets closer to her coworkers, she feels deceptive to leave that detail out – so now she’s telling us.

Oh thank GOD! “Peter” is really Marnie. And Marnie DOES work in finance downtown, travels, and runs on the weekends – and she is absolutely lovely and we like her instantly when we meet her later.

And based on how well we handled the news that night at Tito’s, Kate comes out to the whole office, which all goes smoothly. And Kate and Marnie soon take in foster children, eventually adopting 2 kids.

And I’m convinced that this happy ending is all due to my ability to react to Kate’s secret so casually. (I was practically like The Fonz in a black leather jacket, with a shrug and a thumbs up, like “Aaaaaay, that’s cool.”) Totally awkward and goofy – but hey, that’s me.

This is henceforth known as The Night I Blessed All the Gays – (Even Though They Didn’t Actually Need My Blessing).

— Darcy Perdu

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(Has your boss or coworker ever confided a secret? Are you sophisticated and worldly – or awkward and goofy like me? Have YOU ever confided a secret to a colleague – how did they react?)

Look, I’m Not SAYING She’s an Airhead…

Look, I'm Not SAYING She's an Airhead

So then…I hear our office manager clip-clopping down the hallway with the newest receptionist to introduce her around to the staff.

I roll my eyes because history has proven that the revolving door of receptionists at this particular company are hired more for beauty than brains. Whoever’s selecting them seems less focused on a 60 WPM typing number and more interested in a 36-24-36 number.

And sure enough, as they round the corner and pop into my office, I see a young lady in her mid-20’s with sky-high heels, push-up bra, tight skirt, and enough cosmetics to paint the Sistine Chapel.

(I admonish myself not to be so judgy! Stop judging this book by its skimpy cover!)

I smile cheerfully as the office manager says, “Darcy Perdu, I’d like you to meet our new receptionist.”

“Nice to meet you. Welcome aboard,” I say.

She smiles and introduces herself.

Since we’ll be adding her to the email network and phone directory, I say, “So how do you spell your name? Is it J-a-c-k-i-e? Or J-a-c-q-u-e?”

She giggles and says, “Oh, whichever.”

Um…what?

I furrow my brow. Maybe she didn’t understand the question, so I repeat it. “No, I mean, how do YOU spell your name? Is it “k-i-e” or “q-u-e” at the end?”

She giggles again and says, “Oh, whatever you want.”

WHAT!? Whatever I want? It’s her name!

What if I want it to be spelled “B-o-o-b-i-e-H-e-a-d-e-d-D-i-n-g-B-a-t?” Is she OK with THAT?

Now look, I totally understand when people are indifferent about what they’re CALLED:

As in, “Do you prefer to be called Kathy or Kathleen?
Dave or David?
Jim or Jimmy?”

And the person says, “Oh, whichever is fine.” That’s cool.

And I’ve certainly seen people behave completely nonchalant when asked questions like:
“Do you prefer butter or cream cheese on your bagel?”
“Do you want to sit near the window or the aisle?”
“Do you strangle or stab your victims?”

“Oh, whichever” is a perfectly fine response to ANY of THOSE questions.

But when someone asks you how you SPELL YOUR NAME, isn’t that something you should have an opinion about?

Isn’t she signing her name fairly frequently – on forms, notes, checks, tax returns? Does she spell it DIFFERENTLY each time, whatever the mood strikes her that day?

Or does she have a system?

Maybe it’s “Jacque” for resumes –
“Jackie” for restraining orders –
“Jakkeee” for love notes –
And “Pjackey” for her computer password (the “p” is silent).

I’m cracking up because it’s just mind-boggling to me that after 20-some-odd years on this planet, she hasn’t yet made a definitive decision about HOW TO SPELL HER NAME.

I can just imagine how decisive she’ll be in her new job here.

Caller: “Hello, can you please connect me to your billing department?”
Jackie/Jacque: “Sure.” (presses “whichever” combination of buttons strike her fancy)

Warehouse Employee: “Does the boss want this shipment to go to our Dallas office or the New York office?”
Jackie/Jacque: (giggling) “Whichever is fine.”

Delivery Person: “Here’s the lunch order for the meeting. Looks delicious. Should I put it in the conference room or (chuckle) just gobble it up myself?”
Jackie/Jacque: (giggling) “Whichever is fine.”

Boss: “Your work performance is very poor. Should I try to re-train you to be more decisive – or just terminate you?”
Jackie/Jacque: (giggling) “Whichever is fine.”

And then she’ll giggle her way to the nearest Hooters (or is it “Huuturz?”)

Now before you think I’m being too hard on the poor girl – she’s 24! Not 2! Giggling and uncertainty might be acceptable at 2 – but at 24? Nope.

And it’s not like I asked her to explain the Quantum Entanglement Theory of Electrons – or the highest-grossing agricultural export of Paraguay! I asked her how she SPELLS HER NAME!

“Um…okay,” I say. “Just let us know whatever you decide and we’ll add your name to the roster.”

She ultimately chooses “Jackie” but I shall forever think of her as “Pjackey” (the “p” is silent, of course).

— Darcy Perdu

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(Any of your coworkers (past or present) who seem a bit challenged in the common sense department? Any examples of odd answers to simple questions? Any funny name stories to share?)

My Coworker’s Compliment MIGHT Be a Bit Back-Handed…?

My Coworker's Compliment MIGHT Be Back-Handed
So then…I push open the doors to the hotel pool and see that some of my co-workers also took our boss’ advice to relax a bit before we need to be at the conference dinner tonight.

I’m only 22, so I can hardly believe my good fortune that I have a job that allows sipping cocktails poolside – I’m literally giddy!

As I enter the hotel pool area in my navy blue one-piece, one of my co-workers says, “Oh, that’s a pretty swimsuit, Darcy.”

I grin broadly, sort of surprised at the compliment because that co-worker happens to be a girl my age who hasn’t been very welcoming in the past. She comes from money and an Ivy League education and she’s always acted sort of snooty toward me and my small town background.

So I stop in front of her lounge chair and smile happily with a genuine, “Thanks, Cheryl!”

She smirks with a side glance to her friend and says, “Yeah, I remember it being pretty when I first saw it. It’s from last season, right?”

I am thunderstruck.

Not because she’s rude.

But because it just now hits me: swimsuits have SEASONS?

I shuffle off to a lounge chair in a daze. I know I’m not exactly sophisticated, but it never occurred to me that clothes have SEASONS. Is there an EXPIRATION date for clothing?

As I lay out my towel and lay down, I think back on what my mama taught me about fashion:

1) Trends and fads come and go, so buy “classics” that you can wear forever.
2) Buy your clothes a little loose so they can last a long time even when you grow.
3) Take good care of your clothes so you can pass them on to your younger siblings.
4) Style and color are secondary to a great sale price!

So our entire buying strategy was based on the hope that our clothes would last practically FOREVER! The concept that a perfectly-usable garment would only be good for one season, then tossed aside and replaced with a new garment was literally MIND-BOGGLING.

We chose dark colors, classic styles, and larger sizes so we could wear our clothes for years! We practically looked like cast members of Fiddler on the Roof!

We knew not to even ask for whatever the latest trend was – tye-dyed bell bottoms, hip huggers, that burgundy-wine color everyone was suddenly wearing one winter, or whatever.

My closet was basically filled with conservative clothes fit for a funeral parlor – with the occasional wacky item from the mark-down clearance bin.

For example, as a high schooler, I wore a bushy ORANGE winter coat. Not a hipster so-retro-it’s-cool “burnt umber” winter coat. It was a HIDEOUS OMIGOD-WHAT-THE-HELL-IS-SHE-WEARING FLAMING-ORANGE COAT.

I’d walk down the school hallway, weaving in and out of my classmates’ black and brown coats like I was a Neon Orange Traffic Cone!

But.it.was.on.sale. A BIG sale. And so I wore that coat proudly.

I rub suntan lotion on my arms and look over at Cheryl and the other girl giggling and gossiping. Their swimsuits look adorable but I literally have no concept if they’re from this season or last season or from 17 seasons ago. Who’s able to keep track of such things?

I put on my sunglasses and think back to an afternoon when I was about 10 years old, back in Louisiana. My Mom came into my room and laid out two shirts on the bed. They looked the same – two blue short-sleeve shirts. She said, “One of these cost $6.99 at Kmart and one of these cost $19.99 at Dillard’s Department Store. Can you guess which is which?”

I studied and studied those shirts. I touched the material. I compared the colors. But they were practically identical.

“I can’t tell the difference,” I said.

My Mom looked me straight in the eye and said, “Exactly!”

Lesson learned, my friend, lesson learned. Talk about a great visual!

And so our family of 7 shopped at Kmart, Target, and Wal-Mart – with the occasional splurge at Dillard’s Department Store for special events.

And we were happy! We weren’t worried if our clothes had “expired” or they weren’t “labelled” by a fancy designer. We were just delighted not to be walking around nekkid!

So I’m certainly not going to let Cheryl shame my “dated” swimsuit now. I sit up, grin at Cheryl and her pal, then proudly sashay my ass over to the bar to order a cocktail and chat up the hot bartender.

— Darcy Perdu

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(What did your mama teach you about clothes, shopping, and sales when you were a kid? Any mortifying garments you recall from your childhood or teen years? P.S. While typing this, I’m wearing expired clothing RIGHT NOW!)

EXTRA P.S. For another funny fashion faux pas, check out this VERY embarrassing thing I said to a co-worker! 

Facepalm – Can’t BELIEVE I Said This to Coworker

Facepalm 433
So then…I round the corner of our uber-plush offices on my way to a staff meeting, still pinching myself that I made it all the way from down-home Louisiana to this Park Avenue job in New York City!

At 22 years old, with only a couple weeks on the job, I’m the very epitome of “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed!”

I shift my files to the other arm and hope I remember some of the names of the people I’ve met so far. As I head down the long hallway, a smiling woman approaches.

She stops in front of me and says, “Laura Ashley.”

I extend my hand and say, “Hi Laura, nice to meet you.”

She frowns at me and waves off my hand, repeating the name, this time with a question mark: “Laura Ashley?”

“No,” I say kindly, relieved I’m not the only one who can’t remember people’s names. “My name is Darcy Perdu. Nice to meet you.”

She “tsks” loudly and shakes her head. “No!” She points at me, up and down. “You! Laura Ashley!”

Omigod, what is with this woman and her insistence that I’m Laura Ashley?

And she seems quite perturbed about it. Does Laura owe her money or something? Did Laura steal her boyfriend?

I’m just about to pull out my ID to prove I’m not Laura, when the woman points at me again and says, “Your dress. Is your dress Laura Ashley?”

Ohhhh. Laura Ashley must be some kind of designer. I’m not familiar with the name so I have no idea if my dress has that label or not.

So I say, “Oh, I don’t know. Um, I’m not sure.” I fumble for the label in the back of my dress.

“Oh,” she says, “If it were Laura Ashley, you’d know. She waves her hand dismissively, continues on her way, and tosses over her shoulder, “I was just going to say it was pretty.”

I look down at my dress. It IS pretty. It’s covered with a pattern of colorful tiny flowers, which I later learn is similar to a typical style of Laura Ashley dresses.

But what puzzles me is how warm and friendly the woman was when she thought I was wearing an expensive name brand dress –

and how frustrated she became when I didn’t recognize that name –

and how she muttered impatiently that she WAS going to say it was pretty –

but almost implied that it was no longer pretty once it was revealed to be an off-brand imitation.

Well, guess what, lady?

I WAS going to say it was nice to meet you – but it wasn’t!

And now me and my off-brand flower-di-da dress are flouncing off la-di-da to the meeting!

— Darcy Perdu

Keep the fun coming! Pop your email address right here for 2 new posts per week!

(Any awkward moments similar to my assumption that the lady was Laura Ashley? I love embarrassing stories, so do tell! And when did you first realize that clothing had names?)

Her Royal Thighness Ad

TRUMPETS BLARING!! Ladies and gentlemen, permit me to present Her Royal Thighness!

Yes, friends, we are amongst royalty – but the very best kind of royalty. Parri Sontag describes herself as the Everywoman ─ “a middle-aged, weight-challenged, chocolate cake-loving semi-professional dieter with a passion for musical theater.”

I first encountered Her Royal Thighness when I read her hilarious story Mom’s Helpful Hints Fall on Deaf Armpits about all the fabulous advice she tries to impart to her teenage daughter who doesn’t seem to recognize just how fabulous it is. When I read this line:

“Mom,” she stopped me. “I really don’t need any more of your deodorant wisdom.”

I completely cracked up because that sounds exactly like something MY daughter would say to ME when I’m trying to pass on MY brilliant bon mots of advice and guidance.

Then I saw that Parri had listed my So Then Stories blog on her link “Who Makes the Thighness Laugh” – and that she had purchased an ad on my site. Wow, I like her AND she likes me? How cool is this? THEN I met her in person at the Erma Bombeck Conference and found out that she’s just as bubbly, funny, and warm-hearted as she is in her posts.

So grab your royal scepter, settle in to your comfiest throne, and enjoy some of these hilarious posts from Parri Sontag of Her Royal Thighness:

Goodbye Jell-O Brick Road

The Year I Gave Dad a Real Humdinger!

Fatty Cat and Me: A Codependent Relationship

Like her Facebook Page: Her Royal Thighness

Follow her Twitter: Her Royal Thighness

And if you leave a comment, please tell her I sent you!
Enjoy! — Darcy Perdu

P.S. And please remember to share a comment below about any of your awkward encounters similar to my Laura Ashley identity crisis!

P Facepalm

How to Mishandle an HR Situation in 1 Easy Step

How to Mishandle an HR Situation 433
So then…I clutch the phone tightly, heart hammering, as the HR person utters those words I’ve been desperately yearning to hear: “We’d like to offer you a job when you graduate college.”

HOT DAMN & HALLELUJAH!

I silently shake my 22-year-old booty and gesticulate wildly, fist pumping and foot hopping!

A JOB!

And not just ANY job! A job at a FORTUNE 500 company on PARK AVENUE in NEW YORK CITY!

I’ve been fantasizing about this dream job for months as my fellow seniors and I prep for graduation and what lies ahead for all of us – new cities, new jobs, and (SQUEAL) new PAYCHECKS!

So NOW is the part of the phone conversation where we discuss income.

I try to shake my body free of the “omigodpleasehiremefortheloveofGodIambeggingyoutohireme” vibe –
And replace it with the
“manyouaresoluckyIagreetoworkforyousogetreadytoponyupthebigbucksbaby” vibe.

I furrow my brow, trying to remember all the clever negotiation techniques my friends and I practiced when discussing how best to secure a terrific starting salary.

Professors taught us to factor in the cost of living in the job location, median salary of other college grads, the type of position, and the relative financial health of the employer.

Based on all that, I REALLY, REALLY want to earn $20,000 a year.

Such a round beautiful impressive number.

And come on, they can afford it! Fortune 500 company! On Park Avenue! In Manhattan!

And come on, I’m worth it! Like seriously “L’Oreal” worth it! Graduating Summa Cum Laude! Paying my way through college by working part-time jobs and taking student loans! Winning awards and scholarships! Earning superb references from multiple summer internships!

I shall stand my ground! I shall earn twenty THOUSAND dollars!

Marvel at my negotiation skills!

HR Exec: “We’d like to offer you a job when you graduate college.”
Me: “Thank you for the offer. What’s the salary?”
HR Exec: “The starting salary will be $18,600 per year.”
Me: “Oh. (pause) I was thinking $20,000.”
HR Exec: “Really? ‘Cause we were thinking $18,600.
Me: “Oh. OK. That’s fine. Thank you. Thank you very much.”

Did you see that?
Did you see how I had them shaking in their shoes, terrified they’d lose the hottest young recruit in their company’s history?
Did you see how they almost caved – then I swooped in and magnanimously offered to reduce my salary so they could donate funds to charitable causes like blind orphan puppies?
You missed that?
It’s in the subtext. Highly sophisticated people would get it.

So anyhoo…what was YOUR starting salary for your first real job?
And were you as brilliant and tough a negotiator as I?

— Darcy Perdu

Keep the funny coming – just pop your email address right here to be sure you see my new posts each week!

(So spill – any fun salary negotiation stories to share? From either side of the desk? Do you remember your starting salary at your first real job – and what was the job?)

P How to Mishandle an HR Situation

Ravenous Businessmen and the Lone Sushi

Ravenous Businessmen and the Lone Sushi
So then…he raises his chopsticks to pluck sushi from the tray in the center of the conference table, but then realizes — it is the very last piece of sushi.

He quickly lowers his chopsticks and looks around the table at his Japanese colleagues who are all similarly eyeing the lone tuna roll. No one dares take it.

There is some shifting in the seats, some nervous twitching, and one gentleman unconsciously taps his chopsticks on his plate.

I falter a bit in my presentation as this drama unfolds. We hope to impress Mr. Tanaka and his colleagues so much that they agree to carry our automotive accessories in their line of shops in Japan. It’s a small chain, but it would be our first foray into the international market, so we’re very excited.

As I point to the next product line and discuss its success at our country’s largest retailer, I shoot a look at one of my co-workers to indicate distress over the sushi. But he’s too wrapped up in the presentation to notice.

There are a dozen of us crammed into this conference room – 6 visiting Japanese from our potential new client and 6 Americans with our company. To accommodate the varying culinary tastes of the group, we had ordered a huge tray of sushi – and a huge tray of deli meats and breads for sandwiches.

We must have underestimated the sushi portion size for the average Japanese businessman – or these guys are particularly ravenous – because they literally devour the entire tray in minutes.

I’m up here selling my ass off, trying to take their minds off their apparent starvation, but I have to tell you — there is nothing more distracting than a hungry audience.

I shoot a look at another co-worker to signal – “Feed these people; I’m dyin’ up here!” but she is oblivious.

I’m loathe to stop the presentation to address the situation because quite honestly, I don’t know where to get any more sushi anyway! Our company is out in the middle of an industrial center so there are no shops or restaurants nearby. We had to order the sushi far in advance – and now we’re out.

Finally, one of the younger Japanese businessman tentatively reaches his chopsticks over to the deli meat and bread tray. He hovers there for a moment, then zips down to snare a slice of ham.

He places it on his plate and stares at it a moment. His colleagues are transfixed on the operation. He dips the ham into the soy sauce, adds a touch of wasabi, and pops it in his mouth. He nods.

Suddenly the other 5 are fast and furious with their chopsticks and soon they are plucking up roast beef, turkey, and ham onto their plates, dousing with soy sauce and wasabi, then slurping it down.

Suddenly the sliced provolone and Swiss cheese are flying through the air, meeting a similar fate.

I can hardly keep a straight face. Who knew cold cuts and cheeses would be so appealing to the Japanese palate?

I instantly imagine a brilliant idea for a chain of deli stores for Japan!

I’d serve:

Snapper on Rye
Turkey Tuna Roll
Squid & Swiss on Sourdough
Eel Knish
Soy Sauce Salami Sliders
Corned Beef California Roll
Pastrami Sashimi, Hold the Pickles
And of course — Wasabi-Flavored Bagels!

OK the menu might need some tinkering, but clearly I’m onto something –
Our Japanese visitors are delighted with their deli discovery –
Their full attention is now on my scintillating sales presentation –
They agree to a large initial purchase order of auto accessories!

And now I’m off to invent my new chain of deli-sushi spots for Japan!
All restaurant names and menu suggestions welcome!

Arigatou!

— Darcy Perdu

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(Ever had a food shortage or food mishap at a meeting or social event? Any embarrassing presentations YOU’VE made? How about a funny story about international clients or cuisine? Bring it on!)
Ravenous Businessmen and the Lone Sushi P

Oh, Don’t Think I WON’T!

Oh, Don't Think I WON'T!
So then…we come barreling down the hall just as the gate agent is about to close the gangway door.

“Wait! Wait! Can we get on this flight?!” I shout.

My co-worker Teresa pleads, “Pleeeeeeeease?”

Our other 2 co-workers, Mike and Matt, are huffing and puffing so much they can’t even speak.

The gate agent looks us over – 4 young corporate kids, all in our late 20’s, with our briefcases and carry-ons hanging off our crumpled suits, as we wheeze and gasp after running through the airport.

Her face wavers between impatience to get the flight on its way – and a tiny bit of pity.

I pounce on that shred of emotion. “Oh please, we BEG of you! We RACED here after the convention, only to find out our flight was delayed cuz of snow and ice — so we booked a different flight back home, ran to THAT gate, only to find out THAT one was delayed too! So they booked us on THIS flight – but it took us FOREVER to run here from the LAST gate!”

Matt clutches his chest and leans against the wall, loosening his tie. (Not sure if he’s doing this for dramatic effect or if he’s really in distress, but it works!)

The gate agent says, “OK, OK, give me your boarding passes and get on the plane quickly.”

We hoot and holler and wave our boarding passes in the air. We scramble quickly down the gangway onto the airplane. A few people are still in the aisle, storing their bags and finding their seats.

“Thank God we made it!” says Teresa.

Mike and Matt high five each other. We’re all beaming.

Matt says, “We’re so lucky we didn’t get stranded at the airport.”

“Yeah,” I say. “But I really hope they serve dinner on this flight. Cuz it’s 5 hours long and we didn’t have time to buy anything in the airport.”

Mike looks stricken. “Dammit. None of us has food?”

We all shake our heads forlornly. We haven’t eaten since the lunch of sandwiches at the convention hall — and now it’s late night.

Teresa says, “Oh, I’m sure they’re gonna serve dinner on this flight!”

She smiles optimistically. I frown skeptically.

We find our seats, stow our bags, and buckle in.

Teresa’s next to me. The guys are in the row behind us.

Later, the flight attendant comes down the aisle, dispensing drinks and dropping a little bag of pretzels on each tray table.

“Will you be serving dinner soon?” I ask.

The attendant says, “There’s no dinner.”

Teresa nearly spits out her Coke. Matt and Mike behind us say loudly, “WHAT?”

“We have pretzels,” she says. “We had peanuts earlier today, but we’re all out now.”

“Omigod, seriously?” I ask. “THIS is it? This is ALL the food?”

“Yes.”

Teresa fumbles with the cards in the seat pocket and asks, “Can we BUY food? Do you have a snack menu or something? We’ll pay! We have MONEY!”

The attendant shakes her head.

Matt calls out, “Is she saying there’s no food?”

I answer loudly, “There are pretzels!” I turn back to the attendant and ask, “Could we please have extra pretzels? We’re starving!

“No, I’m sorry,” she says. “We’re running low. What with the flight delays and cancellations, the airport’s been a mess today — we weren’t able to restock before we left.” She moves on to the rows behind us, distributing the meager fare.

I stand up, lean over my seat back, and hold the packet in front of Matt and Mike.

“Did you guys hear that? THIS is it! THIS is our ENTIRE nutrition on this FIVE HOUR flight!!”

They start laughing and Teresa joins in.

“It’s NOT funny!” I say loudly, still waving my packet around. “I.am.starving! I could eat a horse! And all they give us is this puny packet of pretzels!? I tell you what! You better hope we don’t go down over the Andes, because I will not HESITATE to eat you sorry mofos!”

I plop down into my seat, in a huff, famished and frustrated.

Just then a hand quietly reaches over the aisle and slides a packet of pretzels onto my tray.

My head snaps to the left to see who the donor is – it’s a businessman, with an expression of trepidation.

I say, “Are you sure?”

He nods vigorously.

I nod respectfully, with hooded eyes, and whisper, “Thanks, bro. If we go down, I’ll remember this.”

— Darcy Perdu

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(Ever been so hungry on a flight that cannibalism was an actual consideration? How do you feel about so many airlines abandoning the free meals of yesteryear, but offering snacks and meals for MORE MONEY? Any funny flight delay/cancellation stories? Do tell!)
Oh, Don't Think I WON'T! P

Who SAYS It’s Christmas BRIBERY?

Who Says It's Christmas BRIBERY
So then…he pours another glass of wine and asks, “Did everyone else get the anti-Christmas letter from Wal-Mart?”

We look up from our rubber-chicken dinners at this industry event — and laugh at Richard’s question.

We’re all salespeople for various auto accessory companies so we call on clients like Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, and automotive chains.

Todd, a sales guy from Atlanta, says, “Well, it’s not exactly ANTI-Christmas. It just reminds us salespeople that we can’t give any gifts to our Wal-Mart buyers for the holiday.”

I say, “I told my Wal-Mart buyer that shouldn’t prevent HIM from getting ME a gift.”

They laugh. Ten of us are eating dinner at this round table in the hotel ballroom, waiting for the speeches to start on the dais.

Nick, an older grizzled sales veteran (and a New Yorker), knocks back a slug of Jack Daniels and grouses, “It’s ridiculous. What’s wrong with giving gifts to your clients? We’ve done it for years — and now all of a sudden, all these chains are telling us we can’t take our buyers to dinner, can’t take ‘em to shows, can’t –”

“Take ‘em DRINKING?” interrupts Todd.

More laughs. Nick snorts. “Hell, YEAH, take ‘em drinking! What the hell else you gonna do in Bentonville, Arkansas, for God’s sake?”

Several of the men nod, picturing that sleepy little town that houses the Wal-Mart headquarters.

The chains have become very strict about salespeople potentially influencing purchase decisions of the buyers with lavish gifts or vacations. Apparently, back in the day, vendor salesmen were pretty fast and loose with incentives to buyers to ensure their product lines were chosen for distribution in the stores.

Another salesman pipes in, “I get that they don’t want you “bribing” the buyers to carry your product line, but how are you supposed to establish a relationship with a buyer if you can’t even share a meal together?”

“Yeah,” says Todd. “I even told my Target buyer we could split the check for dinner, but he doesn’t even want to be seen out with a vendor in case someone thinks he’s getting a free meal!”

“I heard they have hidden video cameras in the vendor meeting rooms so they can make sure salespeople aren’t bribing the buyers!” says another salesman.

“This summer, I was calling on Wal-Mart to show our new automotive cooler, so I stocked it with snacks and sodas to demonstrate how it keeps things cool,” I say. “My buyer comes in and says, ‘I’m dying of thirst and that soda can looks so cold.” So I say, ‘Help yourself! It’s just for the demonstration!’ He looks around the room – I swear he’s acting like there are cameras in there! Then he says, ‘Well, I should pay for it first.’ Then he digs in his pocket and slides a quarter over to me before taking the soda!”

“No way!” says Todd.

“That’s ridiculous!” says Nick.

“I know!” I say. “I wanted to tell him, ‘Hey, I paid 50 cents for that soda, ya cheapskate!’”

They laugh.

Nick takes another hit of his Jack Daniels and says, “Many years ago, back when I was first starting out in sales – and when the chains weren’t so uptight, I had this buyer at a national auto chain based in Philadelphia. This guy was great – carried tons of our products in his stores – he bought literally millions and millions of dollars of our stuff. We took him out to dinners and shows, gave him some great gifts for the holidays, even treated him and his wife to a few weekend getaways.”

We lean in to hear better. The other tables at this event are pretty noisy.

“So one day, I’m presenting our new line of seat covers,” continues Nick. “And my buyer says, ‘Let’s go try these out.’ I look at him like he’s crazy because he’s never cared about seeing how the products actually work in the car before. But I say ‘sure,’ and off we go. So he’s barely noticing how nice the seat covers are, but he’s saying things like, ‘Hey, let’s turn left up here’ and ‘yeah, swing around to the right.’”

I exchange anticipatory looks with Todd and a couple of the other salespeople at our table.

“Before I know it,” says Nick, “We’re at the river and my buyer points to a new condo building that’s built right there, overlooking the water. He says he’s heard those condos are really great — and they cost $90,000 – and he and his wife have been looking for someplace in the city to move – and how he’s thinking about adding another section of seat covers to the stores. And finally I realize — he wants my company to buy him one of these $90,000 condos!!”

“Oh my God!” I say.

“And we DO!” announces Nick, raising his drink in the air.

“Oh my God!” I say again.

A couple of the guys laugh. A couple shake their heads in amazement.

One of them says, “Wow – well, you certainly can’t do something like that these days!

“Of course not,” says Nick. “You’d never be able to find a condo on the river today for just $90,000!”

— Darcy Perdu

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(Does your company permit holiday gifts to be given and/or received? One of my past companies let us accept gifts from vendors – as long as the gifts were edible and could be shared with all the other employees. But I am not a “sharer” – especially when it comes to Christmas treats! Holla! Share your Christmas gift tales in the Comments!)
Who Says It's Christmas BRIBERY P