March 16, 2013

On asking the question you should never ask.

If I were to ask you what the one question you must never, ever ask a woman you don't know is, I'm sure we could all agree that it is if she is pregnant. Heck, even if you know the person it's still a dangerous question to ask.


A few weeks ago at work we hired roughly 12 people. As you know, I'm in HR, so I'm particularly aware of the new hires. While I don't actually participate in the interviewing and final hiring process, I often take part in the initial resume screening for applicants.

As such, I knew that one of the dozen new hires was expecting a baby in June, as she had informed us thus. I also had it in my head that it was our new receptionist.

So, on the receptionist's first day she was shown around and I was impressed by how well she hid her bump with a high waisted skirt and flowy top, knowing full well that some people don't show very much. Later that afternoon, I found myself with the new receptionist and another coworker in the lunch room, chatting. Being the friendly person I am, I casually said, "So, you're having a baby, aren't you?"


I apologized and carried on my conversation with my other coworker for a minute until the gravity of what I had just done sank in. I immediately started backpedaling and explaining that she does not, in fact, look pregnant, at all, but that I just thought that the receptionist was the pregnant person. Then I fled the room and ate my hummus at my desk, burning with shame and embarrassment.

After lunch, when I put my leftovers in the fridge I gave another slightly ranty apology to my not-at-all pregnant looking coworker. Then I went and told the girls I work with how much of an idiot I am. Luckily our new receptionist is incredibly easy going and laughed the whole thing off.

If only that were the end of the story.

HR has been really slow this week so I went and helped out on another floor where things are crazy busy insane. As I went to refill my water bottle in their lunch room, I ran into one of the 11 other new people, sitting at a table, and introduced myself. As soon as I heard her name I knew she was, in fact, the pregnant new hire. So I asked her and she uncrossed her arms, showing me a very pregnant belly. 

Because I'm a woman and have a natural instinct inside me to love babies, or at the very least squishing babies, I feel a natural inclination to talk to other women about babies. It's part of my DNA, okay? I can't help it.

Once it was established that she was, indeed, pregnant, she asked me if I was, too. 

Yes, that happened. It's a little thing I like to call karma, I suppose. I brushed it off and told her no, and she then apologized and we carried on with our conversation.

Afterward, when I was telling the HR girls about this encounter, and they all gasped then laughed at the irony of the whole situation, I realized two things: First of all, I should never wear that sweater again, and, secondly, I am not the most awkward person in the world. Apparently other people don't know how to talk to people either. Once, I had a boy in high school tell me my hair looked good when I wore it down. I told him his did, too. His short, man hair. Because I always feel like a compliment needs to be returned in kind and saying "thank you" just feels too selfish. That's why whenever people compliment my clothes (which they do all the time because I'm so stylish and good looking) I always tell them where they're from. "Thank you" just feels too self-gratifying and awkward.

Cheers to not being the most awkward human being on the face of the earth. And to karma for showing me what's what.


  1. Oh no! Don't feel bad because I have done the exact same thing. It sucks but ehh it happens.

  2. This is seriously HILARIOUS. First off, I'm with you on the whole returning the compliment thing. On my birthday whenever anyone told me "Happy Birthday," I had to stop myself every time from saying "Thank, you too!" It may have slipped out once or twice.

    At my last job, there was a girl I worked closely with and she was stick thin. After a few months I noticed she was no longer stick thin, and I was nearly 100% positive she was pregnant, but obviously I'm way too shy to ask, and she's too private to say anything. So I feigned surprise when it finally came out in a meeting and she was 6 months pregnant at that point. And then another coworker apparently mixed the two of us up and asked me about my baby shower. I wasn't even wearing a loose fitting shirt nor was I overweight. But I thought it was so ridiculous I couldn't get mad, and I'm sure the receptionist felt the same way.

  3. I'm bad at the compliment return, too. Especially with clothes. I almost always say where I got it, then realize the person wasn't really interested in where I got it from.

    At least the lady was chill and you obviously felt sorry :) It could have been a lot worse!


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