Where Is My Mind?
The Pixies wondered Where Is My Mind in a rock star kind of way and now Pat wonders the same thing in real life . . . with a little help from the kindness of strangers she manages to keep a smile all the while!
Some days I wonder where my brain has gone and why it has left me.
For example, last Tuesday I opened my lunch bag at work to discover I’d forgotten to retrieve my lunch entrée from the refrigerator at home. The next day, I was congratulating myself as I exited the car because I’d remembered to bring my lunch, coffee cup, purse, gym clothes, and laptop computer from home when a passing stranger said: “You do know you have a curler in your hair, right?”
Well, no I did not.
Fortunately, I thanked her immediately because seconds later I was laughing so hard that I could barely speak. In my defense, the bright yellow, 2-inch Velcro curler struggling to tame my bangs is quite lightweight, but you would think it still would have been obvious to me and the vehicle driver bidding me goodbye, wouldn’t you?
Nonetheless, I am grateful for the kindness of strangers who go out of their way to save me from myself – and great embarrassment. This incident brought to mind one of my favorite tales from a cousin who discovered after dragging her flu-ridden body through the grocery story that not one person had even hinted that she had her own Velcro curlers stuck down the back of her clothing. “Wouldn’t you think the people behind me in the checkout line would have at least noticed?” she whined between sniffles.
“Well, they probably did but they didn’t want to make you feel any worse,” I said, as tried to stifle my giggles.
This, of course, also prompted tales of similar humiliating situations, such as discovering you’ve been walking around with part of your skirt stuck in your pantyhose, or that you’ve returned from a social event after hours of talking and smiling with spinach stuck in your teeth or that you’ve been walking around with your fly unzipped for most of the day.
Most of us have no problem discretely informing our friends and family members about gaffes like this to prevent them from further embarrassment, but what about strangers?
What should you do if you notice such things happening to people you don’t know? Is there an obligation to inform? An etiquette to follow?
An Internet investigation turned up numerous articles, and even some videos, on this subject so obviously I’m not the only one curious about this. Most of them seem to agree that if the embarrassing thing with a stranger’s appearance can be easily altered, such as food in the teeth or a wayward skirt, you should discretely, respectfully and quietly inform them. But if it’s something that can’t be changed at that moment, like a hideous hairstyle or outfit, keep it to yourself.
In most circumstances, the person will be grateful you prevented further humiliation. But if they become angry or embarrassed, you should say you were simply trying to be helpful because you would have wanted someone to tell YOU in a similar situation.