We’ve all had our fair share of awkward moments—well at least most of us have anyway. You know, the proverbial spinach in our teeth, toilet paper sticking to the bottom of our shoe, or gasp, a dangling booger. Whatever the embarrassing scenario, what strikes me is how many people do not speak up and point out the misfortune?
Back in the day when I was a practicing lawyer in Washington, DC, I was walking back to the office after a lunch appointment and enjoying the crisp, fresh fall air. Upon arrival to my office building, I immediately went into the restroom, only to discover that the inner portion of my wrap skirt was unbuttoned, thus revealing my exposed thighs. Thankfully, my unmentionables were still covered, but I couldn’t believe that I must have past at least one hundred people during my twenty-minute walk back to the office. Did it not occur to one of these individuals to point out my wrap skirt malfunction? I also wondered how many folks caught a glimpse of my unintentionally visible control-top stocking clad thighs. Thankfully, this occurred before ubiquitous smartphone and video capture.
In contrast, I am the guardian angel of such instances. Over the years, I have approached many an individual, including complete strangers, to alert them to their awkward situation and, hopefully assist them in avoiding impending disaster. As an example, once when riding the subway in NYC, I noticed a woman in a gorgeous suit, hair and makeup to the nines carrying a designer handbag and briefcase. When she turned around, I noticed that her black stockings had a major run in them.
I thought to myself, what if she is on her way to a job interview or a meeting? I then discretely pointed out her mishap to her, in the hopes of her avoiding any further or major discomfiture. Indeed, she smiled and thanked me for letting her know. We then proceeded to think about which stores were open near her subway stop so she could pop-in and pick up new stockings. I wonder if she also thought about how many people before me spotted the run in her stockings but chose to remain silent.
While not profound gestures, I’d like to think that these small acts of disclosure carry significance in the kindness department. What if this type of small nod not only prevented someone from potential humiliation but also lifted his/her spirits?
Granted, not everyone will have a positive reaction to a stranger approaching and pointing out awkwardness. However, having experienced my mile high thigh exposed walk, I would have been far less embarrassed had someone pointed out my wrap skirt misadventure, rather than discovering it in the mirror an hour later.