Once you start digging a hole, keep digging. As our section head said, apologising, "I did not mean to say you were stupid. I just wanted to point out that you should learn from your managers. And if you work hard enought you might also get a meritorious service award. But that is your choice, some people just have no ambition. Think about it." Half the office took sick leave for the rest of that week. Guess they had no ambition.