Carol: Oh Kate. It was really awful! I just stood there with egg on my face. I didn't know what to do.
Kate: Come on, Oh Carol! It can't have been as bad as all that.
Carol: Oh, it was! And worse. Have you ever done something so stupid you just wanted the ground to open and swallow you up. It’s a dreadful feeling. Dreadful!
Kate: You obviously want to tell me the whole story. Go on. I’m all ears.
Carol: Well, I’ve told you many times what a great boss Mr Lee is. We all think the world of him. How many people could say that about their boss?
Kate: I certainly couldn’t!
Carol: Exactly! There are only five of us in the office and we work so well together. It’s not been a very good year for the company, and I know for a fact that Mr Lee was told to get rid of one of us by Head Office. But he fought to keep all of us. I believe he even took a cut in his own salary to keep us all.
Kate: You’ve always spoken highly of him.
Carol: Oh, yes. He’s the best boss in the world. This last year, he’s worked so hard to get the company out of difficulties. He’s worked long hours and taken so many long trips to get business. The fact that the company is doing okay now is due to Mr Lee, not the big bosses at Head Office.
Kate: So, how come you ended up with egg on your face? Not because of Mr Lee, surely?
Carol: Well, yes and no. Last Thursday was Mr Lee’s fiftieth birthday. I always remember when his birthday is because it’s the same day as my sister’s.
I told the others it was a special birthday and we decided to do something as a surprise to celebrate, and say thank you.
We organised a small party for lunch time. Tom ordered the food to be delivered at twelve. We decorated the office with balloons that had ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘Fifty’ printed on them, and bought some soft drinks to toast Mr Lee’s good health.
Carol: Mr Lee takes his lunch break at one. He never comes out of his office until then. So, at 12.45, I knocked on his door and asked him to join us. We all started to sing ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow’. You should have seen the look on his face when he saw the balloons and the food. And all of us were wearing party hats with ‘Fifty’ on the front.
Carol: Hang on! Mr Lee took one look around, and his face was covered with a big smile. Then he dropped the bombshell!
Kate: What? What happened?
Carol: He thanked us. And said what a wonderful surprise this was. And how much he appreciated what we’d done for him. Then, he told us. He wasn't fifty. He was only forty-nine. I’d got it wrong!
Kate: Oh no!
Carol: Everyone fell silent and looked at me. I’ve never had egg on my face like that before. I felt awful. Everyone stopped smiling and just stared at me. How could I have been so stupid?