I’ve been having the time of my life (you know I love my work) working on a task this week with dozens of incredibly smart people. It’s been really great, just about perfect, from intellectually engaging discussions during the day to a dip in the warm pool to soothe my body and ease my pains before or after work. It’s been just the thing I needed to distract me from the recent news and the beginning of the clinical trial.
Until this morning. When I looked behind me (I’m a front-row kind of gal), I saw something I never expected to see — Hooters t-shirts.
Black. Gray. Red. Back of the room. Presenting up front. Nine in all, and my heart sank.
WTF? (As Sarah Palin would say.) As the minutes dragged on and everywhere I looked those circular owl-eyes looked back at me, I tried to hold it together, but it was distracting. Very distracting from the conversation, which was important. And then I just got mad, so I left the room to get over it.
On the way out, a colleague shrugged his shoulders, saying, “Those guys.” and I couldn’t help but respond on my way out the door: “It’s not funny. I had a double mastectomy, and I’m dying of cancer.”
The guys were quick to apologize, sending one out to say quietly and sincerely, “Susan, I’m sorry.”
I forgave him, trying to laugh it off, but the truth is it hurt. It really hurt. Because when you wear a Hooters shirt, you’re telling the world how much you love the breasts — not necessarily the women behind them.
How will I go back into that room?
Edited to add: When I gathered my courage and went back in, they had covered up the shirts. But the room felt … different … than it had first thing that morning.