Thursday 17 January 2019

Melanie Morris: Slapped in the face by a bad text? Here's a lesson for us all

Vent ... write ... send! We do it all the time ... let off steam by email or on text, only for it to ricochet back and slap us in the face some time later.

Either we send the message right to the person we're moaning about (whoops), or its content inadvertently finds its way into 'enemy' hands and then we have to face the consequences.

Whatever, suddenly we're in the dog house over something that may just have been some off-the-cuff ranting. And it doesn't matter how many times we're told not to put anything in writing that we're not prepared to stand over, we all still do it.

The trick is knowing how to handle the delicate situation once you've been rumbled. And for that, I shall forever now look to Aussie tennis player-turned-commentator Todd Woodbridge.

No, I hadn't heard of him before today either. In fact, I gave up watching tennis after the glory days of John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Ilie Nastase, when you could always be guaranteed a bit of drama.

But Todd has come to my attention through his savvy handling of a tricky situation, the YouTube video of which has been climbing up among five figures, presumably because people like me need tips on how to handle it.

Yes, he was caught out on some quality, chauvinistic steam-letting about tennis player Kim Clijsters. "What's wrong with her," he bitched to a friend by text. "She's really grumpy and her boobs are bigger. Is she pregnant?"

The mutual friend (or more likely 'frienemy'), Rene Stops, passed the message on to Kim, who then took the occasion of the televised Australian Open to confront Todd when he interviewed her on court.

First she told him she's seen the text ... cue shock and embarrassment from Todd. "What did I say?", he asked, looking nervous. "You thought I was pregnant," 'laughed' Kim as she recited the content of the text message back.

More flustered laughter from Todd, and lots of mutual elbow punching before he raised a cheeky grin and quickly responded "well, are you?" before finally quipping "that's the end of my TV career".

Fair play to you, Todd, you charmed your way out of a very sticky situation.

He basically put his hands in the air, admitted defeat and didn't try to worm his way out. Because as we all know (but so seldom remember), worming is the surefire way to dig yourself into an even deeper ditch.

And hereby hangs the moral of a modern dilemma. If you've been caught saying something you shouldn't, hurl yourself on your sword at the first possible moment.

Because we've all done it. Hit the 'send to all' button on an email that was meant for his/her eyes only ... or sent the text that discloses way too much to precisely the wrong person.

Todd took it on the chin, laughed it off, added a little sauce and cringed, in front of millions. Equally, Kim had the grace to laugh her way through it, and tease him into shame. I'd like to think the laughs carried on off-court and they both got over it. No more elephants in the room. Or pregnant tennis players.

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