I choose to believe it is a testament to my friendly and seemingly innocent demeanor that I managed to avoid offending an extremely nice gentleman. (I hope.) I should also credit my lifelong aura of “niceness” (something I usually bemoan) and his good nature.
The gentleman - a salesman at Staples - was assisting me in finding a power adapter and cover for my new Kindle. The power adapter? No problem. But the availability of covers to fit my particular Kindle was limited. As we leaned forward gazing at the selection in the small display area, we were so close our heads almost touched.
Taking one of the covers off a metal rung, he held it out for my inspection. “How about this one?”
I gave it a brief glance, resumed looking at the display and announced, “I don’t like the colour black.” As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I froze - mortified.
He was black.
Up to this point, we’d had been engaging in a friendly chat about e-readers & other book related topics. There was now compete and utter silence. Which lasted only a matter of seconds but which seemed much, much longer.
I didn’t dare look at him to gauge his reaction to my thoughtless & offensive (although unintentionally so) remark. Nor did I apologise or attempt an explanation for fear of making an awkward situation even more so. Instead, in an effort to rectify my social faux pas, I committed yet another one. “But I do like brown.”
I bought the black cover. It fit. And it looks very nice.
To my amazement, he walked with me to the cashier’s desk, carrying the adapter. Which I was quite capable of carrying myself. And he resumed our friendly chat – stayed with me while I paid for my purchases.
He chose to overlook (forgive?) my stupid, stupid, stupid remarks. Or perhaps he never even noticed my insensitivity? I wish…
I still cringe thinking of the encounter. And while I didn’t apologise then, I’m offering an apology now. For all the good that does…
Worse yet? (Well, it can’t be worse than what I did.) I can’t be certain or guarantee I won’t do such a thing again. How does one censor a lifelong tendency to be friendly, chatty and unguarded? I suppose I could always restrict myself to “yes” or “no” and “please” and “thank you” responses when talking with strangers.
photo credit: goggle images