The f-bomb

The bomb theory, according to Alfred Hitchcock, says that if a bomb goes off under a table where two people have been idly chatting, that’s surprise.  If the audience knows there’s a bomb under the table, but the characters don’t, that’s suspense.  In film, suspense is better than surprise.

F-bomb graphic

In business, neither is good, as Robroy learned the hard way.  It happened several years ago, when I was trying to win an important partnership for my young creative company, Smith Content.  The meeting was with two somewhat intimidating advertising executives in their stainless steel office downtown.  Now, Robroy generally likes to keep it clean, but that day, in a pitiful attempt at bravado, I let fly with: “We know what the @#*! we’re doing.”

Yep.  The f-bomb.  The execs were clearly underwhelmed.  One cocked his eyebrow.  The other drummed her nails on the table.

If only it were a movie.  The director would have jumped up, waving his arms and yelling, “Cut!  Cut!  What were you thinking, Robroy?”  Then he would have given me a “take two.”

But this is real life.  I had one chance.  And I blew it.


How about you?  You’ve been sitting there so politely.  Have you ever been blown up by an f-bomb?  What happened?


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12 Responses to “The f-bomb”

  1. Faye Rivkin Says:

    giggle! Who hasn’t been there?! usually I’m professional enough to wait to hear it from a client first but it’s a lesson I learned the hard way!

  2. James Says:

    I love it. Great story. Thanks for sharing.

    I love the f-bomb and have rained many down upon conversations for effect, humor, and occasionally, in anger. While a laser guided f-bomb can have a dramatic effect, the occasional misdirected bomb definitely can cause colateral damage. In general, I save the WMDs for home, sports events, and bars. There are other ways to make your point and still remain professional.

    As far as personal experiences, everytime I’ve heard one in the office, the effect was very similar to your experience.

    Thanks for the creating the opportunity to talk in overly obvious metaphors. :) Cheers!

  3. mike wex Says:

    I also learned the hard way about the word F—. I used it while leaving a voicemail. The offened party was a women who had clearly messed up a sign order. She worked for this company that was able to produce the signage we needed at a third of the cost (no one else could even come close.) Instead of fixing the problem and apologizing for screwing up the order. With one word I gave her the power to flip the script ending our deal with this company.As much as I like the word…I hate giving anyone leverge to screw me. So…fuck, fuckity …fuck fuck fuck!!!!

  4. Ed Eusebio Says:

    Good story, Rob. But I would have to say that dropping the F-Bomb isn’t always bad for business. Though it’s best if they drop it first (permission). I dropped it at least twice during a very informal job interview, in which I found myself standing at a conference table banging my fist, as I ranted to my about how fucking terrible the company’s publications where. I really do hate bad publishing.

    I got the job, fixed their shit, and built revolutionary websites, until they bored me.

    My 4-year-old told my wife that the F-Bomb was my favorite word. I really don’t think I use it that much around preschoolers.

    • Robroy Says:

      Ed, I’m seeing it! Great story about the job — we are still brothers of the wild frontier. You remind me of when my middle child Eve was 6 and her little brother Ramsay was 3. I knew something was up because they were grinning big grins when they came down to breakfast.

      Evey said, “Daddy. Ramsay knows the A.H. word.”

      I go, “Oh? And what is the A.H. word?”

      Ramsay looks at me and pipes up: “Ass hole!”

      We all had a big laugh.

  5. Misti Piper Says:

    Robroy – this is hilarious! I do think that the f-bomb can be good and bad in business depending on how it’s used and more importantly BY WHO.

    It’s kind of like some people in the office get away with wearing jeans while others don’t. I really also think there’s a huge difference in men versus women. My guess is that if I used the f-bomb with a client, they would create a story that I’m unlady-like and unprofessional. When a guy drops one among a group of men…it’s the good ole boys club.

    Interesting discussion…

  6. marcidevries Says:

    Mine was “Douchebag” that landed with a similar thud. oy.

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