There’s a foot in my mouth

I made a bit of a gaffe yesterday. While doing a barge assist job with one of the small line boats, I made a comment to the people present (crew members whom I do not know very well, save one) that made it sound like I’d rather be working somewhere else. Goodness knows that isn’t what I meant to convey, but the surprised looks on everyone’s faces made it clear my comment was not well-received. Nothing I could say after that seemed to help the situation, so we just moved on.

I thought my moment of indiscretion could be a useful thing to share with younger sailors who are new to the maritime industry, or even a reminder to those with years of experience: be careful what you say at work. Making it sound like you don’t appreciate what you have, or worse, talking about how you are planning to move on to something better, is bound to create nothing but resentment toward yourself. You are talking to people who have built their life around this work, just as you have, and they are not likely to appreciate statements like the one I made yesterday. It may have been in the heat of a discussion, in which case be it ego, anger, or just plain hubris that causes my mouth to run away, but still it wasn’t the time or place for it. My worst trait is my way of speaking rashly without forethought – just ask most of my friends and anyone in my family – and I get in trouble for doing it all the time. So let me say: play your cards close to the vest and mind those around you, because someone’s ruffled feathers can mean a dark spot on your reputation which, being easily perpetuated by the ever-turning maritime gossip mill, can be difficult to erase.

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