Sunday, January 25, 2015

What's wrong with being kind?

Have you ever been in a situation where someone you were talking to over lunch had a- say- a bit of broccoli stuck between their teeth as you wondered should you just ignore it or politely point it to them in some discrete manner? A variant of that scenario happened to me last week. Thursday and Tuesday nights is where I go to grab dinner with a friend of mine. Other people join us on occasion. I do enjoy a nice sit down meal at one of my favorite restaurants in Gainesville. From the table we can see the room and the bar and after we're done with the food we occasionally grab a drink, and yes, maybe two. All of then sudden my friend points out a girl sitting at a stool and starts to laugh. She has a piece of paper stuck to her otherwise elegant shoe and is clueless about it. She's having a nice conversation with a gentleman next to her and they're having a few laughs. But the piece of paper is pretty big. You can't miss it, as her legs are not hidden behind any piece of furniture - they're sitting by the bar, leaning to the side. My friend is clearly enjoy the show, so our conversation quickly turns to: should we say something. We don't know her, but this is Gainesville. People here talk to strangers all the time. My friend points out that it would have been embarrassing.  And there's some truth to that, especially to hear it from a random person at a bar. But is it more or less embarrassing than having something something actually stuck to your shoe with people pointing you out and making jokes? And how will she feel when she gets home and realizes that she had this there for hours and no one, including her date says anything? This isn't one of those cases where ignoring a problem would make it go away. I tell my friend I want to come up to her. My friend it turn really doesn't want to go there and points out that she's busy talking and probably is on a date. Our checks arrive and we are ready to go. (This was also the night when I felt tingling on my neck only to discover some form of a black beetle that I threw off to the ground, that my friend started to frantically squish with his shoe- Oh Florida) I decide to come up. My friend is so much in a hurry all of the sudden that he's nowhere to be seen. I say "excuse me, you have something stuck to your shoe" as quietly as I can. She looks at it, smiles and thanks me- and that all she wrote. All it took for me was 10 seconds of kindness that didn't cost anything, while for some reason my friend preferred it continued (to his credit, he likes to remove himself from awkward situations). I leave through the front door and he's waiting there. It wasn't a big deal. Definitely not worth debating for twenty minutes and I think I made the right choice. I sometimes think that we let social conventions stand in the way of a basic human reaction and small issues blow up to gigantic proportions. What would you have done?  

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