I was just a second year analyst at the time and was asked to attend a meeting with the dreamiest client of the bank, to me, at least! Keep in mind, the word “dreamy” isn’t typically in my vocabulary. This client was the heart throb in movies that I grew up watching on repeat and who I fantasized my husband one day would be like. I loved this particular actor so much that I would have hung posters of him on my dorm room wall if that wouldn’t have been totally, utterly embarrassing and not socially acceptable.
The senior banker on the account was a feisty and aggressive man with 20+ years of experience on a trading desk. He moved over to Private Wealth Management to assume a slower day to day pace but wasn’t able to shake the trader in him. He replaced almost every word and phrase with acronyms and closed every sentence with an opaque finance term like “alpha” and “spreads.” Even when we weren’t talking about work.
Just as I was putting the stack of freshly printed pitch books on his desk, the banker asked me if I’d like to join “him and the guys” to meet the client. Of course I did. The meeting was a lunch meeting up in our client center, which frames panoramic views of New York City in between mahogany walls and multi-million dollar paintings. And the board room, where this particular lunch was hosted, was the most intimidating room of all.
I nervously walked through the double doors following the lead of the banker, to see my high school obsession sitting at the head of the table. He looked disheveled. He had a half grown out beard, hair that hadn’t been combed or cut in about a month, and was wearing a long raffia tunic and beaded bracelets on his wrist. He was anything but how I remembered him in the movies – until I caught a glimpse of his bright blue eyes.
The meeting began and I passed out the materials. There were fourteen men in the room requiring materials, so the stack of books brushed the top of my nose as I awkwardly circled the table and clumsily passed them out one by one. I looked ridiculous. As I returned to my seat, the senior banker kicked off the meeting with some opening remarks and a flurry of servers paraded in with our first course: a bright orange, roasted carrot puree in a shallow gold rimmed bowl.
I stared at the bowl of soup nervously. Soup? How was I supposed to eat this gracefully? Panic attack. I was supposed to take notes, flip through a pitch book and somehow eat this soup. Where was I supposed to lay the pitch book down if the freaking bowl of soup was right in front of me? Probably not my smartest idea, I chose to put the pitch book on my lap, take notes with my right hand, and sip the soup in between conversations with my left hand. Why I thought this was a good idea, I’ll never know… most normal people would choose to just not eat the soup!
And yes, it was a BIG MISTAKE. Actually, it was a HUGE MISTAKE. I lost grip of the spoon, dropping it abruptly and creating a fountain-like splash of bright orange carrot puree all over the table. Out of instinct, my right hand lunged off the pitch book and onto my placemat to try to alleviate the situation, but instead knocked the bowl completely upside down and sending soup all over me, and the stern looking lawyer sitting next to me.
The room went silent, and the flurry of servers scurried back into the grand board room, this time without plates to serve. They brought me napkins, seltzer water and asked if I’d like some more soup. Obviously I didn’t.
I don’t remember how the rest of the meeting went because I was too busy staring down at the bright orange, vomit looking stain on my white blouse feeling mortified. I scribbled down notes that didn’t even need to be taken out of fear of making eye contact with anyone.
The meeting was coming to an end and I dreaded the moment I’d have to stand up. One by one the team filed out, shaking the client’s hand and exiting through the double doors. I furiously flipped through the pages of the pitch book pretending like I was looking for some very important information as I waited for everyone to clear. The client sat at the table patiently waiting for me to finish.
I finally got up and walked towards the door. I stood in front of him, thinking the smell of the soup all over my blouse might possibly be even worse than the look, and reach out my hand.
“It was so nice meeting you, thank you for coming to our office,” I said quietly. He nodded.
“Your eyes are so interesting.” He replied, “they remind me of that Afghan refugee who was on the cover of National Geographic.”
And just like that, I walked out of the room through the double doors momentarily forgetting about the stain (and stench.) Was this a complement, maybe? Or maybe this actor I always loved, was just as good hearted as he seemed like he was in the movies and could sense how mortified I was.
I got back to my desk with the biggest smile on my face proudly rockin’ my bright orange stain.
“Boy does Amanda have a story for alls of you. This is a fuckin’ story for the grandchildren” the senior banker says.
How to remediate a stain:
What did I learn from all of this? There are two remedies for stains that happen in the office:
- A really good story
Or…. As an alternative
- Should you just have a clumsy moment without an excellent story… my top secret stain remover trick of all is this (I swear it works if you follow my instructions – and its under $3!)
- Run into the bathroom with your dish soap and grab a bunch of paper towels
- Soak the paper towels in warm water and put a small squirt of soap
- Rub the paper towel a bit so the soap gets foamy
- Blot the stain area – this is important, do not rub the stain area or you will create a disaster! It should look soapy and get very wet
- The stain will come out after a few minutes, and then let air dry and try not too feel too mortified that you’re walking around with a huge wet spot on your clothing (a stain is worse!!!)