Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Embarrassing Incidents

My daughter and I are in Target at the register. There’s a problem with my item, so we move aside to wait for a Target Team Member to go and check the price.

Meanwhile, I hear a man behind us speaking with “a tone” to the woman at the register. Then I hear her use “a tone.” My ears perk up, and so do my daughter’s, as we try to figure out what the disagreement is about.

Apparently, the customer has placed his money on the conveyor belt - several crumpled bills - and the cashier is asking him to straighten it out and pass it to her.

“Why can’t you pick it up?” he asks.

“Because you need to count it,” she replies. “And, you’re being disrespectful.”

“No, you’re being disrespectful. The customer is always right.”

Blah, blah, blah… for almost a minute. His poor little daughter is embarrassed, saying, “Please Daddy, let’s go.”

Reluctantly, he picks up the money, straightens it out, and hands it to the cashier.

He loses. Target Team Member wins.

Mallory and I are looking at them from the corners of our eyes, feeling a bit awkward. I feel like I’m on that ABC show, What Would YOU Do? I want to tell him, “You’re wrong,” but he might attack me, too. Sooo… I mind my own business, i.e. wimp out. It’s a minor incident. Perhaps he’s just having a bad day.

I’ve had my own share of embarrassing incidents…like this one:

I’m at McDonald’s. “Mama Bear” is trying to buy and feed her “three hungry cubs” some chicken nuggets. The manager has to get involved in my transaction. She’s grouchy and I’m tired. She says something to me about the problem. I express disagreement, and then ask her to explain. She gives me a nasty look, we exchange a few stern, but quiet words, and she walks off.

Then I realize - customers are staring. I want to say, “I’m right…right?” Instead, I leave with my over-priced chicken nuggets.

Embarrassing. I go through this for what probably amounts to a dollar.

Embarrassing incident #2:

I’m in Bloomingdale’s at White Flint Mall in Rockville, Maryland. It’s 1980-something and I’m twenty-something years old. Dressed in my wide lapelled business suit of the decade, I approach a sales person; “Where’s the bathroom, please?”

“The restroom is over there,” as she smiled (or was it a smirk) and pointed.

“The toilet or whatever,” I respond with a smile; letting her know that I realize she is correcting me.

Embarrassing. Ever since then, I always ask where the restroom is, and remember my lesson in sophistication. Thank you sales person.

Embarrassing incident #3:

My family and I are at a hotel outdoor pool when nature summons me to the restroom. I dart off, get inside and realize that I’ve forgotten my flip-flops. (I know…you’re already saying, “Ugh.”) It’s an urgent, “gotta go” run because I decide to go in the stall barefooted. It’s a well maintained restroom, but still…ugh!

Midstream, I hear a woman telling her young daughter how gross it is to be barefooted in a public restroom; saying it as if it’s just some random conversation, and not about the tacky woman in the stall.

Lesson: never forget flip-flops.

Last embarrassing incident (in this post)

It’s the 1980s again and I’m young. (Notice how I blame everything on youth.) I’m new to the corporate world, sitting in a meeting of about eight people. A word is used by the team leader and I ask what it means.

All eyes turn to me.

The older male, patronizingly, gives the definition to the ditsy recent college grad.

Lesson: never ask the definition of a word you should know in the presence of people who are not your friends.

These incidents, and many more, made me ask myself, “What was I thinking?” Was it a PMS day? A sinus headache day? Or just a fallible human being day?

I suppose an incident will come out of hiding and into my memory on occasion; however, I’ve learned to be over it; to add a little self-deprecating humor to it, and move on.

Care to share an embarrassing incident of yours?

image from