This story ends with me getting hit in the face with a citrus fruit. To this day I have no idea the name of the fruit but it was bigger than an orange but smaller than a grapefruit. What I remember most clearly is the sound as it smacked off my forehead and the instant "what the hell just happened but whatever stay calm" thought that popped into my head.
Did I have it coming? I don't know if throwing fruit at somebody ever falls into the professional behavior bucket but I was being myself and that sometimes has consequences.
It was early in my career and me and another guy were doing an ERP software evaluation for a produce company. We were in the president of the company's office talking and shooting the breeze when he hollers out to an assistant to bring in this fruit that he claims is his favorite. But he doesn't know the name and she doesn't know the name and I say, "the president of the fruit company doesn't know the name of his favorite product..?" By about the time I pronounced the "ct" I could see in slow motion this orangish sphere on a collision course with my face and as fast as the thought could register, SMACK! I smiled, picked up the fruit and handed it back to him and he cut it open and we ate it. And we carried on as if that was normal operating procedure.
If I got to re-shoot that scene today, would I do it the same way? I'm pretty sure that I would. In the long run, speaking my mind and even being a mild smartass has paid more dividends than things being thrown at me. A friend told me about a meeting she had with her CEO at a large company. He told her it was refreshing to have someone tell him like it really is because he gets lied to all day long. I suppose people are afraid of looking incompetent in front of the boss. But so many more times than not it has been the candid, honest, and direct communication that the people I've worked with appreciated and building trust is the most valuable trait in those relationships.
The produce president didn't fire me. I didn't fire him. We went on and did good work.