I have a little bit of hearing loss in a certain register, and today it got me in trouble, although truth be told, it could have been a LOT worse.
I had stopped in the kitchen to ask the staff a question about the convection oven which will be used on Saturday.
While in there, an elderly lady stopped in. She's known to us, is a bit uh...confused and seems to live in a state of perpetual wonder.
She was asking all sorts of questions about the food being prepared for school lunch today. Then she turned to me and inquired as to who I was. I explained I worked in the religious education office. Oh, she said.
Then she told me she was at the church today because her son was being "married". (There's a reason this is in quotes, pay attention to this next part...)
I said to her, "Well congratulations!"
She was turning to go, stopped turned back to me and got real close and said, "Barry".
"Barry? That's his name? That's great!" At this point I was still happy for her. I was also wondering why she wasn't telling me the name of whoever he was marrying, thought maybe that was forthcoming.
In the meantime, my co-worker in the kitchen was looking at me very strangely.
I was confused. You'd think this lady would be gushing about her son Barry getting married.
She was in the hallway by then when I realized what she'd said (with a sotto voce whisper of assistance from my co-worker).
His name wasn't Barry and he wasn't getting Married. I heard the lady finally say the word one last time, "Buried."
Oh. My. Dear. God. I am so sorry!
Never before have I ever gone from being so happy for someone to so utterly shocked and horrified. I promised sincerely to pray for her son.
The lady left and I stood there in the kitchen, horribly embarrassed but also, I admit it, starting to giggle. My coworker cracked, "Oh congratulations on the death of your son!" She also thought my huge awful gaff was actually....kinda funny....
Had it been anyone else that would not have gone well. As it is, by the time the dear lady got half way down the hall she probably forgot all about it. I hope. Oy vey.
I decided at that point to go hide under my desk for the remainder of the day, just so I wouldn't congratulate anyone else on the death of their loved one.