Sam Cook: Sticker surprise causes short-lived embarrassmentMost of us try to maintain a decent image of ourselves. Just a sense of, “I’m OK. I’m getting by. I’m doing all right today.” I mean, don’t we?
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune
Most of us try to maintain a decent image of ourselves.
I mean, don’t we?
Not an inflated or exaggerated image. Just a sense of, “I’m OK. I’m getting by. I’m doing all right today.”
As if, by gosh, we kind of have it together. We’re on top of it. Squared away.
Which is how I was feeling the other day, when a woman I work with walked up to another co-worker and me while we were having a conversation. She stood there for a moment, being polite, not wishing to interrupt us.
But when the conversation came to a lull, she looked at me and, in a completely straightforward way, said, “New jeans?”
I was momentarily kind of flattered. Well, yes, as a matter of fact, they were new jeans. I was surprised she would notice. They look pretty much like my other jeans. And she isn’t one to comment on other people’s attire.
Then, just as matter-of-factly, she said, “I thought so. There’s a sticker running down the back of your left leg with the style of the jeans on it.”
And there you go. Any illusion you have of yourself being somewhat together is suddenly out the window. Yes, you may be wearing some new Levi’s. But you ain’t cool with a sticker that says, “501, 501, 501, 501, 501” running down your port-side hamstring. No, you are sort of a loser. Kind of a goober. A person might wonder what other shortcuts you took getting ready for work that morning.
Did you even brush your teeth?
The woman smiled, as if she knew it was funny about the sticker but as if she didn’t want to make me feel too bad. “Poor guy,” she was probably thinking. “He’s going to feel bad enough when I tell him. No reason to lay it on too heavily.”
But, of course, she was doing me a favor. You see a person in my situation, and you think, “Do I tell the poor sucker?” Because you know it’s going to embarrass him. On the other hand, if you don’t tell the poor fool, he’s going to walk around like that all day, discover it when he gets home from work and try to relive his day, wondering who all must have seen the “501” declaration of new denim.
The last thing you want to do is sit in some meeting with the higher-ups, making what you think are wise and cogent remarks, only to excuse yourself and leave the meeting a little early. And when you turn to go, any credibility you had is undermined by the string of “501s” running down your hind quarter.
Was that snickering you heard as you closed the door?
She saved me from that.
Honestly, though, we need this kind of a setback now and then. Like locking your keys in the car or discovering a piece of black olive stuck between your incisors after a party, these moments build humility. They hold runaway self-esteem in check.
I peeled the sticker off my jeans, wadded it up and moved on. Remind me to check that other pair at home.
Sam Cook is a Duluth News Tribune columnist and outdoors writer. Reach him at (218) 723-5332 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @samcookoutdoors.