Sorry about my ladyparts
August 2, 2017 10:00 PM   Subscribe

My period came early and I bled in someone else's boardroom. I apologised at the time. Should I also follow up with an apology email/call?

I work for a large not-for-profit and today I went to visit an institutional donor. Long story short, my period came four days early and I bled noticeably on the light coloured chair in their boardroom.

Now, if this was going to happen with any donor, it's probably good it was this one. The person I was meeting with is someone I've known for a number of years and am pretty friendly with. Their office is all women and there weren't many there today. I apologised and offered to try and clean it up, at least a bit, but she just shrugged it off and said, "Don't worry about it, we're all girls here, these things happen". I am embarrassed but less mortified than I feel I should be (by some miracle I did not burst into tears in the bathroom but calmly went on to my next scheduled meeting).

What is the etiquette here? Should I send an apologetic email, a bunch of flowers, offer to pay the cleaning bill? Should I just accept her assurance that it's OK and forget about it?
posted by andraste to Society & Culture (24 answers total)
Move on, don't offer to pay or send flowers! It's a little embarrassing, perhaps, but perfectly natural and totally accidental. I wouldn't expect you to pay for throwing up on the carpet either.
posted by Trifling at 10:09 PM on August 2, 2017 [37 favorites]

It sounds like you both handled it graciously in the moment, so time to move on. An email or flowers will make it A Thing.
posted by jessca84 at 10:19 PM on August 2, 2017 [17 favorites]

Yes, move on. Surprise bodily functions happen, it's a normal part of life.

If you had a heart attack or a baby in their conference room, maybe then a note of thanks for their kind help, and apologies for the inconvenience. But anything short of that, apologize in the moment and let it go.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:36 PM on August 2, 2017 [7 favorites]

Nope, let it go. You did fine, she handled it fine, don't make it more than it needs to be.
posted by rtha at 10:37 PM on August 2, 2017 [6 favorites]

I would just try to move on and never speak of it again.
posted by AppleTurnover at 11:28 PM on August 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

I agree. This happened to someone in my conference room, and there was definitely no need for any apologies or anything at all. When your acquaintance said "Don't worry about it," she meant it. Things happen.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:43 PM on August 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Do nothing (except consider pantiliners 4-5 days prior to periods....).
posted by Kalatraz at 11:46 PM on August 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

Queue Frozen... "Let it go... let it go!" People understand and don't want to make you feel more uncomfortable by apoligising for what is a normal human thing.
posted by Diag at 3:55 AM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

You have nothing to apologise for. Save the guilt and anguish for the Intentional Evil Things you do (!), not the perfectly natural accidents that happen. As Trifling said, you shouldn't feel bad about throwing up, so why feel bad about a bit of menstrual blood? Besides, periods are cool AF. We wouldn't even have things like boardrooms and charities and embarrassment and chairs if we didn't have periods preparing women's bodies for creating new human life.

Back straight, eyes forward, put a big smile on your face, and be proud that you left a bit of nature's most incredible miracle on an otherwise unremarkable chair.
posted by matthew.alexander at 4:03 AM on August 3, 2017 [9 favorites]

This happens sometimes--Ani DiFranco even wrote a whole song about it called "Blood in the Boardroom" (though there were men in that board room). Agreed with all previous answers--it's NBD, you both responded appropriately at the time, now just go look up the Ani song and laugh at bodies being bodies!
posted by Illuminated Clocks at 4:09 AM on August 3, 2017 [7 favorites]

No! Let it drop. Case is closed. All is well with this situation and it should not be poked.
posted by whitewall at 4:21 AM on August 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

what she meant was..."PLEASE don't mention it."
Most people don't want to think about other people's period accidents and how it might be them next time!
posted by Omnomnom at 5:38 AM on August 3, 2017 [9 favorites]

oh and here's an anecdote: I was once invited to a software launch as a member of the international press.

This middle manager in a pretty summer dress stood up in the first row and walked to the mic to address the crowd.

And her entire butt-part of the skirt was full of blood.
She had her period infront of 200 people and the assembled European business press at the most important company event of the year.

I caught her on the way out and warned her and you know what she did? She smiled charmingly and thanked me, then walked out without a rush.

Dang, lady, you've got nerves of steel.
posted by Omnomnom at 6:13 AM on August 3, 2017 [28 favorites]

A philosophy I find useful in many circumstances, including this one, is this quote from Ma Ingalls of Little House on the Prairie: "Least said, soonest mended."
posted by elphaba at 6:35 AM on August 3, 2017 [8 favorites]

posted by Sebmojo at 6:54 AM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

no no no

accidental incident is over, having been handled perfectly well all round. don't draw more attention to it now that it's done, that would be extremely weird.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:23 AM on August 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

Same as if you'd accidentally bled on a chair from any other source: you've both already said what needed to be said and can leave this in the past. Menstruation isn't some kind of horrific deep secret that must never see the light of day, and there's no need to act like it is. If you want to do something, pay it forward - continue being professional and awesome and when you have the opportunity to let someone else who feels nervous about being human chill out a bit, take it.
posted by bile and syntax at 8:23 AM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you don't have any reason to suspect that anybody there is secretly a deeply terrible person, which you don't seem to, then yes, it's okay. This is the kind of thing I would not hold against even someone I actively disliked.
posted by Sequence at 8:35 AM on August 3, 2017

I respect that Kalatraz was trying to be helpful but you both handled the situation fine, and a preventive pantyliner ain't going to do anything against first day flow, so no need to panic that you didn't do enough to prevent it.
posted by annathea at 8:57 AM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Trust me. Everybody just wants to move on and forget about it. You've already apologized. That's good enough.

You know what would be the best thing to do? Carry yourself like it never happened. Have a big red sign in the middle of your brain that says, "SO WHAT!?" good and loud. Be confident. Don't hang your head. Don't be sheepish.

Shit happens. We're all human. If Gen. George Patton had his period in some board room I doubt he'd even apologize. But he most definitely would say, "SO WHAT!" and move on.
posted by Lord Fancy Pants at 11:12 AM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Don't worry about it, they're all girls there, these things happen.
posted by flabdablet at 12:21 PM on August 3, 2017

Also: don't return their kindness; pass it on to the next person you find bleeding on your boardroom.
posted by flabdablet at 12:23 PM on August 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

That's hilarious and another vote for NBD. (And it is a good song).
posted by benadryl at 7:08 PM on August 3, 2017

No, no, let it go. She already gave you the lead she'd like you to follow -- she brushed it off and minimized your embarrassment, so respond in kind and don't make it a bigger deal.

The next time you talk to that donor, you can say something at the end of the conversation like "heyyyy, look, I have to say this, I was so embarrassed that I would have welcomed the opportunity to keel over from a heart attack right then and there, thank you so much for being so gracious and calm about the whole thing." She'll be like "lady, we ALL have a terrible story or two, don't fret."

And then you REALLY REALLY let it go and just pay it forward by being super gracious to some other woman having an embarrassing af situation.
posted by desuetude at 10:21 PM on August 3, 2017

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