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


Tabor said...

Make sure that you stay out of disagreements that don't directly involve you. And if others disagree...and you feel you are correct...just apologize and keep smiling and tell them you still think you are correct...but with a very generous smile.

Nezzy (Cow Patty Surprise) said...

Great stories girl...I've got a boat load of 'em. Sometimes I think I'm the queen of embarrassment!!!

God bless ya sweetie and have a magnificent day!!! :o)

Unknown said...

You crack me up. I've worked more in customer service than anything else, so I am more often on the receiving end of someone's bad day.
I'm not always nice....but I really can't think of a good moment right now.

Michelle said...

I love all of these. Great stories. And I used to work in retail, and the customer is usually not right. I hate to say it, but of course we have to act like the customers are.

Unknown said...

That's a shame (the Target incident). I was at a store once where this lady was acting ugly over accusing someone of cutting in line. She tried to involve me by asking, "Wasn't I before her?" I did what any smart woman would and said, "I'm not sure."

You've got some doozies, Girl!

People Who Know Me Would Say: said...

This post was interesting for me because it made me realize, for the first time, that those types of incidents don't embarrass me. I always smile nicely and remain completely un-phased by strangers and what they say to me. I would have picked the money on the register conveyor belt up and handed it to the checkout clerk and asked something like, "There. Could we all please play nice?"

What does embarrass me? Well, I was at my best friend's mother's wake - it was packed. I sat down on a chair and it broke into pieces. I fell on my butt and wanted to vanish. :)

Anonymous said...

I cannot imagine getting involved in disputes. I know I am always right. lol

yonca said...

Great stories, Anita! Love your writing. I wish you a great weekend! xo

Anonymous said...

I always feel embarrassed for the person making a fool of themselves. I've had my share of "incidents" too though...I think we all have. Fortunately I think the older I get the wiser too... :) I won't share an incident but rather something my youngest daughter used to say to people at certain times...she'd say..."please...please don't make my mom upset". I used to be short tempered. Enough said.

Joanne said...

I've definitely been there. Sometimes I think it's best to just look back on them with a little humor and accept them as part of life. Though they're still embarrassing, aren't they ...

Arlee Bird said...

So many that I try to repress and I don't know if you'll drag one out of me here. I try to be very meticulous when I'm doing things in public so I don't get noticed for anything.

Actually I do have an embarrassing encounter with a cop, but it's a story and I have it scheduled as an eventual upcoming blog post.

You've got some great stories here.

Tossing It Out

photowannabe said...

I guess life is full of embarrassing moments. Loved your examples. I worked in retail for many years and can attest to seeing some ugly behavior. I really try to stay out of others problems.
Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving such a nice comment. Come again, anytime.

Elizabeth Grimes said...

I dont think you have anything to be embarrassed about! People can be condescending for the sole reason of feeling superior to others...and they should feel embarrassed about that!

Barb said...

That last incident actually tells me you're smart - I always tell my children and grandchildren that they need to ask questions if they want to learn. Also, making "mistakes" is often great for learning, too. (I'm not sure about the grouchy man and clerk, though - maybe they both made more of an incident than it deserved.) Have a fine fall weekend there in Virginia.

Monalisa said...

Aaah! I Know, some embarassing moments simply don't get out of your head, even after years and years. And the worst thing, it comes the same facial expressions we had at the moment of the incident itself.

And one thing about customer is always right. We say it otherwise customer is the King. And we have a shop here written outside in bold letters, "Customer is the King, King never bargains". Story just reminded this.

Buckeroomama said...

I'm pretty sure I have TONS of embarrassing moments, but of course, amnesia strikes when I'm asked to recall any of them. :)

myletterstoemily said...

oh my gosh, i embarrass myself so
many times i wouldn't even know
where to start.

Rebecca S. said...

Well, I suppose the most embarrassed I've ever been is when I asked the pediatrician if 'Osama' (his name) was a common name where he was from, and when he looked at me strangely I blurted out, 'well I guess Adolf is a pretty common name in Austria'. Ack!!!! I remember writing a blog post on this and being mortified for weeks after the event.
I've seen plenty of nastiness directed towards people in the grocery or retail business. Like it is okay to treat these people worse than other people in your life!

NightlySun said...

Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we might as well dance.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

I've only had like 14 million of them. As I get older, though, I find it happens very little. Either I'm much cooler now or I don't give a crap.

gayle said...

Oh Lord I have had too many embarrassing! I am always sticking my foot in my mouth! I loved reading yours!

Alena: Oh, Its Just Perfect! said...

I was bad mouthing a co-worker in an email and then accidentally sent it to her. Yep. Lesson learned? Keep those bad thoughts to yourself! :)

Abby said...

Another interesting topic! And thanks for your candidness, although I don't think these incidents were *that* embarrassing - or maybe I just don't embarrass easily.

A "most embarrassing" moment that comes to my mind is actually too embarrassing to put here in your comments. I'll just say that it involves the delivery of a new mattress...

Hilary said...

Great stories! I agree with the Target Team Member, though. The customer should have picked it up and handed it to her. I can't stand it when I hand money to someone and they put my change on the counter. Like they couldn't possibly deign to risk touching my hand or *gasp* being polite! As for my own embarrassing stories? I wish I had a one readily available to relate. That must mean I have too many from which to choose!

Tracey said...

I can assure you, I have never done anything embarrassing. Except those things that pop up over and over again in my head as I am trying to get to sleep. It is past my bed time. Let me go try to get to sleep and I may have something for you by morning.

Thanks for coming by so often while I have fallen behind on my blogs.

Just Two Chicks said...

Hmmm... depending on my mood, I may have said something to him. LOL.

As far as the "restroom," bathroom," "toilet," incident... really?!?! She was simply a snooty-snot. AND, how are you going to learn what something means if you don't ask for the definition, but, yes, better to make note of the word (looking smarter by writing things down) and look it up after the meeting.

I've had many moments, as everyone has. Live, laugh, and learn!!