Yesterday I went to the mall. I had several gift cards burning a hole in my pocket so I thought I would treat myself to a few things I’d been wanting. Leisurely, I strolled around my favorite department store making purchases here and there. After a few hours I was ready to head home.
On my way through the store I decided to make a quick stop in the ladies room, because…you know. Anyway, as I was at the sink washing my hands I glanced up at the mirror and noticed a large black smear across my forehead.
“Hmm?” thought I, “How odd.” I wiped off the offensive spot, dried my hands and continued through to store and out to my car.
But, here’s the thing that kept going through my head the whole way home…
How long had I been walking around with this smudge on my face and why had no one I’d interacted with mentioned it?
This was not a small mark. Think “Ash Wednesday” kind of smudge only maybe the Father sneezed and smeared sideways. I started replaying the previous few hours in my head.
“Did the sales woman at the ladies wear counter avoid eye contact as she rang up my scarf because she didn’t want to stare at my filthy forehead?”
“Were the two women, in the housewares department, who complimented my hair and asking if I had highlights, really just trying to find a nice way to tell my my forehead was covered in dirt?”
“Did I accidentally get black gunk on my hand from the sole of the black boots I was trying on and then wipe it on my head? Did the sales lady that fetched the boots in my size notice the soot when I paid for them?”
You can bet that if I had been at work instead of the mall, one of the students would have told me. They like to let me know if something needs my attention. (“Mrs D your socks are two different colors.” or “Did you know you have a really big pimple on your chin?” or “Your hair looks kind of funny today.”) They’re very helpful that way.
Maybe the people at the mall don’t have the same moral code as my second graders but still you would have thought that someone, at some point, would have said something, for crying out loud!
I would have.
Rest assured, if I ever see you in public with a black smear on your face, a price tag hanging from your clothes or something stuck in your hair I will, without a doubt, quietly and politely let you know. Promise you will do the same for me, okay?