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Ready For Anything

In Defense of Royally Screwing Up

We've all had a "wrong envelope" moment. Here's mine.
In Defense of Royally Screwing Up
Image credit: Kevin Winter | Getty Images
Entrepreneur Staff
Editorial Director
4 min read

By now, you have surely seen the Oscar night Best Picture mess up witnessed live by over 32 million people. To quickly recap, presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway anointed La La Land winner, and then a few seconds later, a guy wearing headphones ran out on stage, yoinked the statues out of everyone's hands mid-acceptance speech and gave them to the rightful winners, the producers of Moonlight. Whoops!

And by now, you've surely learned that the cause of the envelope switcheroo was not Bonnie and Clyde, but rather two employees of accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz, who dropped the ball on handing out the correct winning card. While they kept their day jobs, they've been tagged with a lifetime ban from working Oscar night, and according to TMZ, have required bodyguards to stave off death threats posted on social media.

Related: Watch Incredible Oscars Ending 'Best Picture' Mess Up

Death threats? Come on people, a bit much, isn't it? Sure, they made a mistake and with mistakes come consequences, but who among us hasn't gotten an A+ in F-ing up at least once in our lives? 

A few years back, I had a "wrong envelope" moment, and unlike the envelope hand-er out-ers, my screw up could have come with a hefty dentist bill, or worse. Let me explain.

I wrote about this previously but thought the story was worth repeating. 

Our son Henry was in 3rd grade, and in the middle of the afternoon on a seemingly mundane day, my wife Lisa got a call from the school principal. “Henry is okay,” she assured Lisa (which is never really all that assuring), "but we had an incident." She went on to explain this “incident” occurred at lunch and they were “investigating.” While Henry was eating his snack bag of grated mozzarella cheese (yes, a bag of grated mozzarella cheese as a snack is weird, but that’s not the weird part) he found a couple of tiny metal screws mixed in with his munchies. The principal explained that they were questioning the students to find out what awful person would have done such a thing.

Related: Biggest Social Media Fails of 2017

Lisa called me, told me the story, and like some movie where the hero cop has all these flashbacks and realizes that he actually murdered all of those people, my brain instantly snapped everything together. The night before, I took the air conditioner out of our dining room window, put the screws in a baggie and left the baggie on the counter. That morning, Lisa was cleaning and—missing the fact that it had screws in it—put the seemingly empty baggie back in the baggie box. Minutes later, while making Henry’s lunch, I took the very same baggie out if the box, also missing the fact that it had screws in it, filled it with shredded cheese and sent him off to school. So in summation, I was the awful person who would put screws in a child’s lunch. Imagine how fun it was explaining all of that to the principal on a follow-up call...

The good news is that the kids in the interrogation room were released, my son didn't actually swallow any hardware, and, shockingly, we were somehow still allowed to have parental rights to our children.

So all that is to say, mistakes happen despite our best efforts. So keep your heads up, people who were banned from the Oscars. It might not seem possible now, but one day this will all be forgotten. And look at the bright side, think of all the money you'll save on dresses and tux rentals next year!

Related: 5 Reasons Your Employees Shouldn't Fear Making Mistakes


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