Gaffe, faux pas, infelicity, gaucherie, doesn’t matter how fancy you try to make the word, it still amounts to foot planted firmly in mouth.
That’s what I did today while I was out shopping. Standing in the checkout line at one of the local pick-up-everything-including-the-kitchen-sink marts, I noticed what seemed to be a couple with a rather unusual purchase. They had a boatload of large plastic bins and two huge rolls of bubble wrap. Interesting purchase I thought, what would you do with that much bubble wrap and all those plastic bins.
I began to realize that I had seen those items together before. Oh yea, in my basement when I carted some of my glass creations to a local artisan shop. They must be getting ready for some craft show or flea market. The lady and I made eye contact at one point and we both smiled politely.
I was suddenly saved from waiting in line by a new aisle opening up. As I finished my purchase, the bubble wrap and plastic bin couple were still working out the logistics of carting their purchase out to the car. I thought, I should try to connect with the lady, be a good stranger and offer a kind word or insight. So as I passed her on my way out of my aisle, I leaned toward her and said “Bubble wrap and plastic bins, must be getting ready for a craft show or flea market.”
I smiled as she turned toward me, feeling full of myself that I had bridged that gulf that so often is between strangers. I could tell that she was at least cognizant of my banal attempt at connection as she gracefully said, “No, my mother recently passed away and my brother is helping me pack her things.”
Backpedal, backpedal, backpedal. Dive, dive, dive.
Where is Candid Camera when you need it?
No one ever said that pie-ala-foot was tasty and this time was no exception. The lady was kind enough not to bare witness to what had to be a look of utter mortification on my face. She simply went back to her task of wheeling her payload out of the store.
To be honest, I don’t even remember if I apologized or offered my sympathies. I do remember tucking my tail between my legs though and crawling on my belly out to my car.
I know, I know, my intent was not to cause harm, my intent was truly noble, well maybe noble is a bit dramatic, but friendly of course. And it is not my wish to say that we should never try to engage a fellow citizen of the human race for fear of having to partake of a pedestrian picnic.
My point is, things are rarely as they seem, be kind. Everyone walks a different path, be compassionate. And given time, with kindness and compassion toward self as well, the foot will gradually and naturally dislodge itself from the mouth.