Sometimes the simplest act can trigger a political meltdown. Already viewed as a suspicious character, I made a gaffe that haunted me for weeks.
My client was inordinately proud that they offered “k cups” instead of the typical manky brew boiled in a pot that is never ever washed. However, in keeping with their thrift and lack of appreciation of fresh, high quality caffeine, they proffered no brand coffee that tasted like halitosis and had the buzz factor of a conference call.
As a self sufficient consultant, I solved the problem by ordering amazing coffee online and kept a stash in my desk drawer.
Within days, it was a “thing”. One camp inquired where I had procured my cinnamon scented full Monte high test, and gladly accepted my offer to share.
The other camp was livid – insulted that I was ungrateful for their crappy coffee. Their fury began to creep out of the kitchen and into my work. I started hearing “New York” comments, peppered with theories that I believe I am better than the client (I am).
Soon I was dispersing my stash to grateful sippers until it was gone. Exhausted figures haunted my doorway, looking for a fix. I couldn’t order more – it would further inflame the proud, slow moving Midwesterners I was hired to save.
A few weeks after the coffee was gone, I still needed to bring the offended back into the fold. I thought about KYC, and how I was in a land of caloric indifference. The next day, I expensed $15 in chocolate – kit kats, snickers, three musketeers, and filled a huge bucket on my desk. Within minutes (before 10am!) one by one, people “stopped by” and helped themselves to handfuls. I had to refill the bucket a few times a week, but I resurrected my sullied reputation and the snarky comments ceased.
I won’t let the coffee catastrophe happen again, and I am hyper aware that grumbling troops can undo my reputation.