Wednesday, September 12, 2012

On the Other Hand....There's Humiliation

I'm sure everybody has had a moment where they wished they had kept their mouth shut (or I don't know.........a moment where they wish they hadn't basically flip off a machine gun toting Turkish guard with both hands :

Well I have a long list of such embarassing stories.

Over the years I've told these stories to the amusement of myself and my friends.
Eventually they all began telling me THEIR embarrassing stories. I now have compiled dozens and dozens. I may write a book of them one day (changing the names to protect the less than innocent). I have loved telling these stories and hearing others' similar stories for years (so feel free to leave one of your own in the comments). But the first humiliating story for me, the story that started my infatuation with embarassment was the following:

I was 16 years old. It was a Friday night. I had played well in the baseball game earlier. School had been easy that week. I had no homework. I had just picked up my girlfriend and I was meeting all my close friends at the movie theater.

It sounds like a pretty spectacular night doesn't it?

Well it most definitely was. I was having the time of my life. Me and my girl laughed all the way to the theater. Once we arrived we met up with the rest of the gang.

We were being loud and obnoxious I'm sure. I , of course was being the most Loud and the most obnoxious as we waited in line to get our drinks and popcorn.

Once we completed the concessions transaction , I led the way toward the theater.

As our group of 8-9 teenagers rolled closer to the entrance to the movie theater hallway (and therefore the man who tears the tickets) , I was at the climax of whatever story I was telling. With animated gestures and overly exuberant boisterousness I turned to face my "audience" as I backed the last few feet toward the man who tears the tickets.

I continued wrapping up my story (which I am sure had zero importance) and turned my head back slightly so I would know where to hand the ticket. Because my focus is much more locked on entertaining my friends than paying attention to where I'm backwardly walking, I only see the ticket tearer in my periphery.

98% of my attention is still aimed at the lobby and my listeners, 2% noticed from the corner of my eye something miraculous.

The ticket tearer had grabbed my ticket, torn it, and returned it to me. He had grabbed it in his right hand, instantly popped it with his two fingers and thumb, leaving him pointing just the stub towards me.

This lightening fast motion and the fact I was highly involved in my self importance and storytelling , made the man's action dazzling.

It had lasted less than a second but my brain was enthralled in the magic.

Again wanting to entertain my friends, it was more important for me to tell them what had just happened than to turn and see for myself what was going on.


It was like seeing a sleight of hand for the first time. It was dazzling.

I was very genuinely impressed and very genuinely amazed.

I was more amazed when I FINALLY turned my attention back towards the direction of the theaters and the ticket man......because that was the moment I realized....

He had torn the ticket with one hand.......because he only had one hand.

Every drop of blood drained from my face. I instantly fell silent.

Apparently the expression on my face told the man that I was mortified and that I in no way meant to harm him with the words I had just spoken. He and I never spoke a word (I literally couldn't speak), but he gave me a smile that said, "Pay attention to your surroundings, kid. Some people aren't as kind and understanding as I am."

The potential anguish I COULD have dealt that man with my careless words really hit me hard.

I feel very lucky the man had a cool temperament and a kind heart.

It took hours for me to accept my error and get back to having fun. But the lesson has stuck with me ever since.

I still love to cut up. I still love to get loud.

But I always pay attention to the people and things around me. Always.

I suggest you do the same. Or don't and contribute your embarrassing stories to my collection.

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