Monday, August 23, 2010

Another One From the Blonde Archives... "But you look so different with your clothes on."

So, the whole "nothing"/"not anything" post got me thinking about the other day when I was outside a store chatting with my friend (incidentally, the same one involved in the Quaalude post..) and someone I thought I worked with entered the store. I paused in the conversation with her and said, "I think I work with that guy. I'm not sure though; everyone looks so different in their street clothes."

At this point, if you're not already aware of the fact I work at an oil refinery - I do. I work in the lab testing area where we all wear dark blue, flame retardant lab jackets - not like on TV where they all where nice, white, pressed jackets. No. Ours are navy blue and made of flame retardant material - which is good, considering most things in an oil refinery are, well, flammable. There are also many, many operators of the units of this refinery. (Maybe 100 of them?) and they must all wear steel toed boots, blue coveralls, hardhats and safety glasses. And they are mostly all men. And I think dressed alike, doing the same job, carrying the same tools that sometimes they even look alike. Luckily (for me) every one's coveralls also have their name embroidered on them. This has not, however, in the past prevented me from confusing one with the other. Seriously, they all do melt in to one person that I refer to as "the operator".

For a long time terror would always strike when I would see "the operator" in some non-work situation and they would call me by my name. Terror mostly because 1.) I could never reciprocate the proper name thing and, 2.) Taken completely out of context, I couldn't usually place that I worked with them.

This in mind, consider this exchange from when I was about 20 years old, working as an intern in the refinery lab and I had gone to the mall, upon where I run in to the dreaded "operator", along with his wife and tiny baby.

Operator: "Rikki? Hey! How are you?!"
Me: "Huh?"
Operator: "What are you up to, shopping?"
Me: "Huh?"
Operator: "Oh, this in my wife, blah blah, and our baby, blah blah Jr."
Me: "Huh?"
Operator: (to his wife) "Oh, Rikki works in the lab at Conoco."
Me: Now, instantaneously recognizing that I in fact work with this guy...."Oh...HEY!!! How's it going? Sorry..I didn't recognize you with your clothes on."

**Insert foot in mouth.***

 WTF did I just say? And, judging by her expression, his wife was thinking the same thing. So, just when I expect a full-on smack down outside the Target store and envision peeling an angry new mom off my back because, really, have I just said, "I didn't recognize you with your clothes on?" Really?

I'm just going to say that the situation got really uncomfortable. Really. Really uncomfortable. So, in the only thing I could do is explain myself. Because 1.) I HAD NEVER SEEN HIM NAKED. Or cared to. 2.)At work, dressed in blue coveralls, hard hats and boots - they all look alike. I swear.

Me: stuttering, "Uhh. I mean I didn't recognize you with your street clothes on." And then, to his wife, "Really. They all look alike at work. And I never see anyone in their street clothes. So, I didn't recognize his street clothes."
Operator: "Well, see ya later I guess."

So, now when I'm out in public, I don't approach anyone I think I might even work with. I wait until they approach me. And, I chose my words more carefully now. Usually.

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