This story happened about a year and a half ago when I was on Fox, which is why I haven't shared it until now. I wore the same shirt and tie last night that I did that day which reminded me of the whole traumatic experience.
It all started with some friendly nagging from my Nana. She'd gotten me a pink tie and a pink shirt for my birthday and had been bugging me to wear it. I told her I'd worn the tie plenty, but together it might be too much pink. Finally one day I gave in. As I expected, it was a lot of pink. I took plenty of Molly Ringwald jokes at the station that day, but in stride. The General Manager-- my boss's boss-- also had a good laugh when he saw me. That led to me doing my best rendition of an appropriate scene from the movie "Airplane!"
While jumping and flailing my arms like a ballerina, I yelled, "There was a sale at Penney's!"
Back then we had two meetings-- one for Fox and one for NBC. During the NBC news meeting the GM called me back in to re-enact my little joke about my pink outfit. As an aside, our GM loves coffee and as usual had a cup in his hand at the time.
The News Director's office is small. During a news meeting it's downright crowded. Yet, I walked in begrudgingly let the boss set the stage about the shirt and tie and I belted out the Penney's line with gusto. Only this time, when I lunged my arm out and flipped my wrist up-- I perfectly knocked the cup of coffee out of my boss's hand, up into the air, and down on top of his head.
There was a moment of complete shock in the room. The guy who runs the station had just been scalded with hot coffee and for a split second no one knew how bad the situation was.
It was bad.
Our GM, a great and gutsy man's man (if you think I'm not kissing up to this day you're crazy) didn't scream or anything, but it was obvious there was plenty of discomfort and some pain. The News Director-- scrambling to help his boss, save his couch and not have to find a new anchor-- rushed across the room to help. And by across the room, I mean 2 feet. The Executive Producer hopped up to get towels. Adela Uchida-- who was sitting next to the boss and took a little part of the coffee shower-- shot me a look that said, "Nice knowing you." Basically, everyone in the room snapped to attention to help the boss. Except me. I stood in utter disbelief at what had just happened. Hoping it wasn't as bad as it seemed. But, looking at the GM's coffee-soaked shirt and tie I knew it was as bad as it seemed.
Over and over and being the fantastically handsome man that he is, our boss kept telling me it was fine. No big deal. After a five minute break from reality, everyone was back at work. It was much quieter than usual. No one was talking to me or even looking at me. I could feel my co-workers tension. Nobody wanted to be standing next to me when the ax fell. Then the ax fell.
I took the long walk to the GM's office on the other side of the building.
No one thought I would be coming back-- at least not with a job. I walked in to find him with a stained shirt and a very red face. Not an embarrassed face-- a blistered face. "I am so sorry." The words were so hollow, yet I uttered them over and over. The boss reassured me with every apology not to worry about it and we even had a couple laughs before I left the office. I returned to my desk to see just about everyone looking at me. Not staring, but their heads were one way and their eyes were on me. I told the News Director he was fine and everything was OK-- except for his couch, which I now needed to tend to.
It took awhile that day, but after a few hours, I finally felt secure and safe again. I finished the 5:30 newscast and returned to my desk having completely forgotten for the moment the devastation from earlier. Then Laura, who works next to the boss, stopped by to tell me the GM left early. Understandable. Hey, maybe he's happy I got him out of the office early, I thought. But he didn't go straight home.
"He went to Ready Care."
I was Flounder in "Animal House" and Dean Wormer had just expelled me and notified my local draft board that I was now eligible for military service.
Since I still work at the company, you can figure out the rest of the story. I apologized furiously the next day and 82 after that and everything was fine, because the boss really is understanding. Just the other day he walked around the corner with a cup of coffee and we shared a laugh. I had to confess to him though, he still made me pretty nervous with coffee in his hands. So much so, I either put my hands in pockets or run from the room.
And that's why you don't see me wear the pink shirt with the pink tie very much.