I hit a lady Tuesday and almost knocked her into the street.
It wasn’t on purpose, of course.
I can explain.
Here at the office we have a door on the side of the building that leads onto the street that connects Master and Main streets.
Many times, especially at night, I go in and out of this door.
There is no glass on the door, so there’s really no telling what could be on the other side.
I already learned a lesson about bursting out that door and walking onto the street — thankfully the driver of the truck was observant enough to notice some fool forgetting to look both ways before walking onto the street.
But back to hitting a lady.
I was chatting away on the phone, and heading outside so I could talk a little more freely. I never have much liked being on the phone within earshot of anyone.
I got to that door, and thankfully, instead of my usual plunge outside, I was a little calmer and simply opened the door.
But it was enough.
I don’t know how hard she got hit by that metal door, but I very quickly apologized for slamming into her.
But we all have our occasional accidents. Usually for me, however, they don’t include others — Tuesday’s attack with the door was an exception to that rule.
Last week, and I truly don’t remember which day, I had an “accident” in the newsroom.
Well, in reality, it was more of an embarrassing moment than an accident.
I had maybe been here for 20 minutes or so, and was getting ready to add my stories to our chalkboard wall.
I picked up the chalk.
I walked to the board.
I bent down to start writing.
And the fanny of my jeans split from the belt line along the pocket and down to the leg.
Thankfully, no one was looking in that direction when it happened, or they would have gotten a show that would have been labelled at least PG-13.
Equally thankfully, I wore a shirt that could stretch — that way I could slide out of the building with few people noticing and my dignity largely intact.
But that wouldn’t be the first time I did something to bring the red out on my neck, ears and face.
As many of you know I spent a great many years working in the food service industry — better known to me as “the restaurant biz.”
In one of my last restaurant jobs I was a third-shift manager at a well-known 24-hour restaurant.
I had many various duties, but most often I would help the other servers wait on tables.
On third shift we had a great many regulars, so you’ve got to know a bulk of the customers on some level.
As is customary in many restaurants, when someone breaks dishes, drops food or otherwise does something to halt the service line — the laughter and applause ensues.
This restaurant was no exception.
Many nights a glass would break or a tray of food would miss the table and create a pile of mess that included eggs, bacon and various accoutrements — and the laughter and applause would, pardon the expression, raise the roof.
One night I was hard at work — we were plundering our way through what we called a “bar rush.” Establishments serving alcohol would close, and those inebriated patrons would then weave their way to any open restaurants — including ours.
It always made for great money, because people were so busy being drunk and talking they’d forget to count and leave hefty tips.
And this night, the house was packed.
I was handling about eight tables, and an order for a table of six came out of the kitchen.
Being an old hand at slinging a tray, I piled on the various plates, sent the tray over my head to avoid shorter servers, and headed for the table.
I rounded the corner and was just coming into the dining area when one of the heavy skillet plates shifted.
And in about two split seconds, the balance of the tray was thrown off — I couldn’t save it.
And seven meals which included sunny-side-up eggs, rice and various gravies, were slammed into the wall.
Silence enveloped the restaurant.
There was no applause.
There was no laughter.
Fear of my reaction was the most evident expression on their faces.
You see, I was the guy known for throwing people out of the restaurant — and it didn’t take much for me to get my “throwing arm” ready for action.
I figured later that was likely the only time at that restaurant someone didn’t fall prey to the laughter and applause after making a noisy mess.
But embarrassing situations are really, truthfully, nothing new for me, although I do remember one story that could have been embarrassing, but my 5-year-old’s pride saved me.
I was in kindergarten or first grade. I really was 5 and rode the bus.
We lived in a small town, and I rode the bus with students from K-12 grades.
One day me and a neighbor friend were riding together when a couple of older boys offered us some candy.
Now we knew about taking candy from strangers, but those strangers drove in cars and looked sinister.
These were just guys on the bus, and they had shredded chocolate.
I pinched off a piece and tossed what I expected to be a sweet moment of bliss into my mouth.
Instead, my tongue started burning.
My nostrils were flaring.
My stomach was roiling.
And my friend was even farther along.
He started crying and threw up. And the laughter exploded.
Then it quickly subsided while they waited for my tears.
I just sat there.
This slimy, burning juice was all over the inside of my mouth, and I wanted to retch so bad I couldn’t stand it, but I refused to give in.
I lasted the rest of the ride to my bus stop, and calmly exited the bus.
When it was out of sight, I spit that garbage out of my mouth and dry-heaved a few times.
It wasn’t shredded chocolate — it was chewing tobacco.
But they didn’t ever get to laugh at me over it.
We all have our moments — so when you see someone having theirs, try really hard to stifle a laugh.
Your moment is next.
John Ross is a reporter for the Times-Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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