25 Jun 2014

So I’m walking down Washington the other day with Ralph when all of a sudden I notice he’s no longer by my side. This is unusual because he’s one of the few blokes I walk about with who can actually keep up with me. When I turn to see where I lost him, I discover him staring at a puddle in the street. He looks up and goes “come check out these tadpoles!” Leave it to eagle eyes to spot a school of tadpoles in the gutter out of his peripheral. We both immediately became enamored by the idea of street frogs and quickly boarded the snowball of bad ideas and giggles, or SoBIG as I prefer to think of it. We eventually carried on our way, but as the afternoon marched on and our respective errands concluded, I couldn’t get the street frogs out of my head. After a few more rides on the SoBIG the excitement surrounding this adventure became so big we simply had to go back. Armed with two gallon zip-top bags, a couple of plastic measuring cups, a strainer, and a smile, we marched our way back up Washington to “rescue” some tadpoles. We might have gotten carried away, for when we got back to my place and transferred our refugees into their halfway house in the form of a 5-gallon bucket, we realized we retrieved almost two dozen taddys. Sadly I had to leave town the next day and head to bootcamp, but like any good absentee parent would, I first established a solid joint-custody arrangement; Ralph committed to their care for the next week. 

Flash forward a couple days and I’m sitting in training where I’m asked to include “something personal” as a part of the go-around-the-room introductions. The 10 some-odd people preceeding me spouted off parallel stories about their 2.5 kids and wholesome households. So not much correlation or inspiration there, and we all know how well my mind works at the crack of dawn… I was stumped. As my turn approached the only story I could think of was the one about the tadpoles. I figured screw it, it’s a funny story and perhaps would lighten the mood some, so I said - “Hi I’m Erin, based in Miami Beach, happily divorced and … so .. the other day I was walking down the street with a buddy of mine …” You know the rest. It played well, or so I thought; the room laughed at the punch lines and seemed to enjoy the brief tale. Cool, right?

Yea … not so much. I come to find out that this became the talk of the dinner outing (which I had skipped on account of my severe lack of sleep the night before). Evidently instead of finding the story charming, with a touch of do-gooder, everyone now considered me to be bat-shit crazy. Fan-tastic.

Avid readers of the blog can probably tell, I’m a quirky bitch, but I’m not *actually* crazy; sometimes you just do it for the story. But you probably also know this isn’t the first time I’ve had simple stories backfire at work so spectacularly, and I couldn’t help but wonder if I’ll ever get good at reading the room. One might argue that the frog story was a little much for a first impression, but all things considered, I still find it pretty benign. However, I’m willing to concede that despite my disagreement there’s probably a lesson here.

So this week, play to your audience. In the face of folks fitting the formula, stick to stories simplicity and stodge. When you reserve your trenchant tales for the clearly kindred spirits, you just might find the warm welcome you wanted.

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Last modified on Thursday, 08 January 2015 20:06
Erin Wilson

I find great amusement in everyday absurdities and am constantly surprised by how my bar-ventures, my travels, and even my food-qusitions relate to the shenanigans that is software sales. I am grateful for the opportunity to leverage the Sapient Salesman as an outlet to share with you my follies, and I hope you can enjoy the schadenfreude.

Website: ebullienterin.com/
More in this category: « I Gotta Dollar Puzzled »

Erin Wilson is the author and publisher of the Sapient Salesman

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