How to Fly on the Sly, Part 2: Tricky Situations

Continuing from our last discussion on how to politely excuse oneself from company in the event a restroom emergency…

While group conversations adapt relatively easily around the departure of a member, it’s not always a conversation that we’re trying to escape. Sometimes it’s more difficult for things to go on without us, such as when leading a meeting or presentation.

Pre-Plan Your Exit

As an educator, I have faced this dilemma many times. If I simply leave the room, class comes to a halt. Here’s where some pre-planning has come in very handy. In my lecture notes I include thought provoking questions or contextual problems I can assign quickly for students to work on while I’m out of the room. Many times I’ve made my exit seem totally normal.

Many of us find ourselves in situations where similar preparations might be useful. That said, however prepared and discrete as we may be, we’re always going to rely on others flexibility and compassion to some extent.

Honesty or Discretion?

In some cases we find ourselves in the dilemma of weighing honesty against discretion. What should we do when we just don’t want to get into a discussion about the medical details? Will it harm anyone if we just make up some other explanation? Normally we would rather not lie to people, but then again we also shouldn’t feel compelled to reveal more about our situation than we’re comfortable with. Remember that our private medical information is exactly that- private. Even if people don’t seem to understand the situation (since it is mostly invisible until times like this), we have the right to reveal as much or as little as we care to.

Regardless of our exit strategies, people are generally quite accommodating and I find that reassuring. I once abandoned my golf partner in the middle of a fairway so I could race off to the bathroom, taking his clubs with me because they were strapped to the cart. He had to finish the hole with the club that was in his hand at the time—and he actually did pretty well considering it was a sand wedge! I caught up to him at the next tee and it wasn’t a big deal. (This and many other adventure stories are chronicled in my book.)

But sometimes it’s just plain awkward. The good thing is that in many cases, people will be inclined to avoid the awkwardness as much as we are, and are happy to let it slip into the past without incident. Remember too, most people (even healthy people) have been in a similar situation at least once in their life, so they probably understand even if they don’t want to admit it.

A little preparation can render these potentially embarrassing situations much easier to handle. In my experience, people are usually quite understanding. When we give people the chance (and expectation) to act graciously, they generally do.

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About the Author

Andrew Tubesing is an acclaimed advocate and humorist on the subject of inflammatory bowel disease.