I would venture to say everyone has been embarrassed at one time or another. I would expand on that statement by adding there are many levels of humiliation, ranging from slight to extreme, and once in awhile the people witnessing another person’s blunder may be more embarrassed by the situation than the actual offender is. For example, one time during a church service a worshiper’s cell phone went off at the most inopportune time. I could not help but cringe, while he fumbled around with the annoying device, until he ultimately got it turned off. Afterwards, he might not have given his faux pas another thought but because of the embarrassing situation, at least to me, he will forever be known as “the rude cell phone guy.” Many people no longer appear to be shocked, or even that concerned, when a cell phone rings during a church service, theater production, wedding, or even a funeral because it’s now all too commonplace in today’s society.
Some of our awkward moments could be avoided altogether if we’d simply learn to listen better, instead of pondering a reply, while the other person is still talking. As Judge Judy would say, “There’s a reason why we have two ears and only one mouth.” I’ve been guilty, like many I presume, of anticipating someone’s words before they’re spoken; therefore, incorrectly responding to them since my brain did not have the time to completely digest what was really said. For instance, one time when I was leaving a Starbucks, after purchasing a cream-cheese danish, I assumed the employee behind the counter was going to say, “have a nice day,” as she had done so many times before. However, my well-rehearsed, “you too,” became quite irrelevant after I realized this time she had actually said, “enjoy the danish.” Since I couldn’t go back in time I hurriedly continued towards the exit hoping she somehow didn’t hear what I had just said. I think that would qualify as only a small infraction on the embarrassment scale.
I’ve experienced a few embarrassing moments, at some of the different levels, during my lifetime. There is the commonly committed improper reply, as previously discussed, and then there’s the moderately embarrassing accidental fart ripped while stretching, during team warm-ups, before a freshmen football game. I have even experienced the dreaded, red-faced doozy. I’m comfortable enough in my manliness, although not quite to the extent of wearing pink out in public (like my father), to share one of my most humiliating moments with you. It happened not too long ago during my one year of higher learning. I’m a very routine type of guy (borderline O.C.D.), so I became a bit confused during the last week of my first semester in college when most of my class times had temporarily changed. The new times were designed for taking a final exam or for simply handing in a term paper, but either way the class times were shorter than usual.
My English class was over at least a half an hour earlier than normal, and I had forgotten my next class wasn’t to begin for awhile, so I preceded to my Sociology class. To my surprise, after opening the door, the professor was already lecturing, and someone was occupying my assigned seat. This situation might not have been so drastic except the teacher was extremely strict, and she absolutely detested interruptions of any sort. You might as well not even show up to her class if you were going to be late, unless you were a glutton for humiliation, because her typical response was to immediately stop speaking and to intently stare at you until you found your seat. She would pause for several seconds, although it seemed like an eternity, as she coerced an exaggerated look of frustration onto her face before asking her famous question, “Now what was I talking about before being so rudely interrupted?”
As a responsible adult I whole-heartedly agreed with the importance of being on time, and not interrupting a class, but unfortunately for me (undoubtedly her prized pupil) that notion of hers applied to students arriving too early to class as well. I stood there motionless, like a deer caught in headlights, trying to grasp what the heck was going on. Several awkward seconds went by until the professor, sensing my confusion, finally informed me that I was to be in her next class. I blindly felt behind me, for the doorknob, while looking directly at my visibly disappointed teacher. I then gradually opened the door and slowly began backing my way out of the classroom. I somehow managed to force a partial smile and mumbled the word, “sorry,” while closing the door shut. I was still able to hear the entire classroom erupt with laughter. That was embarrassing!