, Corbin, KY

November 15, 2012

Put yourself in their shoes before you laugh

The Times-Tribune

CORBIN — Did you ever see someone doing something so dumb you had to cover your mouth and snicker?

That’s what I saw earlier this week when I was traveling to Corbin.

I was fueling up and silently grumbling about the ever-fluctuating price of gas when a woman in a small white car pulled up to the tank directly behind me.

Over that pump’s handle was tied a small grocery bag — the unspoken universal symbol of a broken-down pump.

Not seeing the bag, she parked the car anyway. Then she got out and attempted to use her credit card.

As you may have surmised, it didn’t work.

She hollered in my direction asking what the problem was with the pumps. I walked over to her and told her the pump didn’t work, and shared the secret of the grocery bag. “Oh good grief,” she said rolling her eyes. “I thought somebody left it on there because the pump handle smelled like gas.”

I spoke with her a few moments more, and then when I returned to my own vehicle, I reflected on some of the things I have done which would draw inevitable bellows of laughter.

Once while I lived out west in New Mexico, I relocated to a cheaper apartment. I had been there for a couple of days, and with school and work, I had little time to get boxes unpacked.

In the bedroom the window faced the east and was right next to the bed. So my first morning there I quickly learned I needed some thick curtains if I wanted any sleep past 7 a.m. Not knowing where they were I settled for an old Army blanket over the curtain rod.

Well, at the time I had a miniature Doberman pinscher, who would get pretty hyper when nature called.

This particular morning was no exception, but he managed to get on that blanket just right and yank it off the window.

My sleeping face was bludgeoned by sunlight, and as I am strictly NOT a morning person, I was not a happy man.

Knowing how I am that early, I very carefully stood on the bed to replace the blanket, watching every placement of my feet so as not to walk off the edge of the bed. I got the blanket, adjusted it on the window, and began the careful process of slowly stepping off the bed to get down.

That’s when I walked directly into the path of the big white ceiling fan, set on high and working ever so well. Each fan blade made contact with my forehead at least once, and I’m sure a few more times than that.

Thankfully I had no witnesses, so I was spared the through-the-flattened-fist guffaws that would normally follow.

That was not the case, however, when I was visiting a friend’s aunt last summer.

She owns a camper which she has set up on a lake in East Tennessee. She has a nice, wide porch in front of the camper, which was not attached but was built next to the camper’s entrance. The porch was level with the door, but because it was built next to the camper it left a six-inch gap between the porch and the doorway.

We’d been out there visiting for several hours, and many times I walked over the spot without paying it any attention.

The lady has a dog, and that day it had gotten into something gross. I noticed it had something on it, and before it went into the camper to spread whatever it was all over, I tried to stop the dog by putting my foot in its path.

I did stop the dog from going in...but it was with my thigh. I placed one of my feet right on that six-inch gap, and plunged through the deck until my foot hit the ground. Thankfully, I’m tall or that could’ve hurt a great deal worse.

That action, unfortunately, started a small chain reaction. One of the kids there started to cry, and it scared the other one so bad she threw up.

The adults just outwardly laughed — there was no attempt to spare me the chuckles.

So the next time you’re out and about and see someone do something that just screams “dumb,” put yourself in that person’s shoes.

And be happy it wasn’t you.

John L. Ross is a staff writer for the Times-Tribune. He can be reached at