Until you’ve experienced a stranger approach you in the middle of a store and adjust your clothing, you really have been lacking in a significantly humbling social interaction. And, not in a you’re-so-cute-let-me-adjust-your-flipped-collar kind of way.
It started with a health detox, actually. Intrigued by a process that claimed to break bad habits, give me a 5-8 pound jumpstart weight-loss and invigorate me after 3 short (ah hem) days, I found myself trading in caffeine and a litany of other dietary vices for the glimpse of a better me. What I actually received was 3 days of annoyance, bloating, gas, hunger, mental fogginess and a couple of uncharacteristic behaviors.
After work Wednesday, I took myself to Hobby Lobby for the 5th time in 2 weeks (as if I needed anymore fall decorations) to wander. I do this sometimes when I’m trying to decompress. Some gals go to the gym, for a run, grab a drink, yell at their husband…whatever. Me? I blindly pull from an empty coffee mug a piece of paper containing the winning store of which I will wander aimlessly for an hour or so while my mind contemplates a variety less-than-noteworthy (at least for today) topics on life and the like.
About thirty minutes into my wandering, I notice this lady following me. Certainly, there could be only one explanation: she wants my gourds. So, I shuffle them into my cart quickly, along with a few other scarecrows, and scurry one aisle over. I am feeling awkward, and mildly stalked, if I’m honest. But, at least now I’m out of her way. Perplexed by the variety of autumn welcome mats and decorations, and how in America we have an overwhelming selection of ridiculous and unnecessary things, my thoughts are interrupted by a whisper.
It’s the gourd girl. She is now in every ounce of my personal space. Turning around abruptly, I whisper,
“Um. Your skirt.”
“What about it?”, I reply looking down, without notice of anything off kilter.
“In the back. It’s…um…tucked up a bit.”
I glance to my left and see nothing. Assuming it’s just a slight fold, and to humor her apparent OCD, I just give it a little tug and start to walk away.
“No, wait…let me help you”, she cries.
Suddenly, I realize that the entire back of my skirt is tucked up into my T and, while I am decompressing, everyone else in the establishment has been undeservingly exposed to the most scantily clad bare buttox to grace the Hobby Lobby in some time. Perhaps the management wondered if they were the next unassuming victim : PEOPLE OF WALMART- THE HOBBY LOBBY EDITION.
“OH!” I muttered. “Thank you so much! Oh My goodness.”
Wow. That is really embarrassing. I’ve only been walking around here like this for at least 30 minutes with no knowledge. I mean, I didn’t even feel a draft.”
“Yes, I know.”
With that she walked off, embarrassed but feeling accomplished, clearly.
Wait. She knew? My thought? She knew that I had been, unknowingly, conducting a toosh expose for all of the people in the room? She knew I was humiliated but didn’t quite know to to express that in words?” She knew that I’d not had caffeine in 48 hours, thus showing mind-altering effects? She knew that I agonized over how many others also knew about this game of skirt-and-peek? She knew about my struggle with how much is to too much when it comes to fall decorations? She knew that I was dreading the afternoon commute home…the dinner and homework drill? The laundry? That I’d be drinking a protein shake while my family ate? What did she know? HOW COULD SHE KNOW?
I often think about how much people know. I suppose that is, in part, why I share this. I wonder how historically automated responses toward certain relational situations and people would differ if everyone had the benefit of full disclosure? Although, I certainly didn’t mean to take my hypothesis to such literal levels. So, on days when you think that everyone has it all together and you’re playing catch up or measure up or whatever, just remember me. The girl who had her skirt butt-tucked in a T-strap holding a pair of gourds. And be thankful, very thankful, that even for a disaster like her, someone was kind. People, in general, are still very good-natured.
That day ended as it should: with me returning to my car, that won’t start….because I never put it in park.