Saturday, April 28, 2012

Joe's Little Joke

I was in the Super Stop and Shop near where were are staying. We've got a kitchen and were shopping to make dinner. I went down the 'Seasonal Items' aisle, always looking for things for the kids. They had one of those wire racks, covered in toys and gadgets. I reached out to spin it around and it toppled over. Crashed to the ground. I immediately felt guilty. I wanted everyone to know that I just touched it and it fell. It was completely top heavy. Two people came to get it all back in order and I apologized blushing like I had purposely done it. But it was an accident.

They were nice about it. They both commented on how the thing was overloaded with stuff. I rolled quickly away. Joe joined me and noticed the mess and I confessed to my part in knocking stuff over. I told him that the staff had been nice and it was all settled. A little later they strolled by and greeted both Joe and I saying the aisle was clear again if I wanted to continue shopping.

I didn't want to go anywhere near it.

The next day, we were back, again picking up stuff for dinner. I was rolling down one of the aisles and the woman from the day before approached me, from behind startling me, and said, "Don't go knocking things over again today!" I knew there was fun in her voice but sometimes my temper gets the better of my temperament and I was annoyed. I said, "It was an ACCIDENT." She nodded and rushed away.

I fumed a bit, decided to blog on this. "Come on," I thought, "let it go." I felt intruded upon. I felt singled out. I felt that everyone had heard her. My mood soured.

On our way to the car Joe said, "Oh, guess what, I saw the woman from yesterday and I said to her, 'The guy in the wheelchair is in the store today, prepare the clean up crew.'" He told me about how they both laughed.

Oh no.

She probably came to me after that conversation and continued the joke. Being friendly and all that. And me ... well I chose to read something very, very, very, different in the interaction.

Many of you remind me that I need to be careful about how I see situations and I listen to what you say. I try hard to be careful about how I 'see' what's happening around me.

This time I got it so wrong.

And I wasn't very nice.

Maybe sometimes when I anticipate prejudice I find it through being prejudiced myself.



CT said...

Dave, there is no way we can claim that all people make mistakes without cutting ourselves slack for having off times, too. From what I know of you, you push yourself always to do good work, to rise to the challenge, to hold yourself accountable. That is good. How wonderful that you can also model how to self-assess for times it doesn't work out as well as you strive for daily. That is awesome.

Anonymous said...

Hurting people hurt people. It is hard to always see humor in every situation. Everyone makes mistakes - but if there is something different about you - size, mobility, age - whatever - you know, through experience, that they see that first. How can we not want to defend ourselves?

The fact that you felt badly speaks more to your character than the quick snap of the moment.

Anonymous said...

I am so proud of you.....CT wonderful words, exactly right.

John R. said...

ahhh....I feel that this is a classic, "Let it go" moment...All is ok....sometimes we screw up, are prejudiced and ultimately can be less than had one of those be it..I bet all of us, who are reasonably self-aware, have them each day to differing degrees..just learn from the instance and move ahead....that is my 5 cents of comment, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral treatment planning and overall assessment of this uncomfortable situation...feel free to dissent....happy Saturday!!

Rachel said...

We all make mistakes, Dave, and something that strikes me as hilarious one day might not the next if I'm in a bad mood. That's when I ask whoever said something to please go easy on me today, I know they meant it to be funny but I'm feeling sensitive. My coworkers are a good bunch but can be a bit harsh in the name of humor sometimes.

It's just as easy to read prejudice into an innocent situation as it is to explain it away as nothing when it's bloody obvious. This human thing is tricky sometimes!

Anonymous said...

Taken out of context, I can imagine why you would have felt singled out. I agree with Anonymous in that your thinking further about it speaks much about your character. Oh, and thank you for yesterday's conference. I learned alot and appreciated your experience and refreshingly honest sense of humor!

CL said...

I would have been offended too. I hate when strangers tease me -- it happens to me all the time, and it feels gendered and belittling, like they're treating me like a little girl. I try to remember that a lot of people are just trying to be nice and clumsily reaching out, so I usually pretend I'm okay with it. But friendly teasing still pushes a button with me. I do appreciate how in this case, what Joe said made her think you'd be okay with it, and that changes the meaning. But I don't think you should feel too bad about your initial reaction when you had know way of knowing the context.

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't like it when strangers tease me about something I did that feel embarrassed about. And she shouldn't have assumed that her little joke with Joe automatically extended to you, too.

Sure, it's easy for them to be all light-hearted about what I did, but it's not for me. And perhaps that's a character flaw on my part, but it also means that a perfect stranger has summed me up in one word--clumsy--and feels that's a sufficient assessment.


Belly (Liz McLennan) said...


This is why I read your blog and your books - why your words sometimes float through my mind, randomly throughout the day.

Because you are real and honest. Painfully honest, but beautifully so.

You are human, you are flawed, you are self-aware and all of it is so beautiful.