Saturday, June 15, 2013

What would you do? : Tag along!

So, the third in the series is on the lighter side. If you look at it, at each step in our lives, we are faced with choices. And unknowingly, we pick one over the other. There is no right or wrong, it is exactly what the word says: a free choice, and if one choice may work for one, it may not work for somebody else. At most, what is pertinent is, the timing of the choice. What I am trying to understand is what drives those choices and how do we know which choice is right for what occasion.

A few days back, as the class was wrapping up and all of us getting ready to rush to our busy routines, I noticed the girl next to me. I had never actually spoken to her, but had seen her in class a number of times. She must have been almost the same age as me. So, as she got up, and my eyes followed her, to my shock, I noticed that a stick-on tag with the dimensions of the jeans, was still intact on the back of her pant leg. It must have been a new pair and if she was anything like me, must have worn the new possession the first chance she got. My first reaction was a smile, as I felt a strange sisterhood with her. Sisterhood, because I could totally see this happening to me. I buy new clothes, try them on, and hang around at home to get a feel, and then walk out the door, feeling Oh-so-wonderful in my new clothes, forgetting to get the tag off. It is my husband who reminds me most of the times and if not for him, I would be walking around with tags all the time. So, I could completely imagine what must have happened with that girl.

Now, as I was thinking about all this, she started walking up the stairs to the door leading outside the classroom. And all I kept thinking was, "Should I tell her?". I knew her. But we weren't so close that I would be able to predict her reaction. There were two ways this could go: either she would be relieved that somebody had told her and saved her the humiliation of going through the whole day with the tag on, or she could be embarrassed that I had noticed and now she had to face me. And I had no clue how it would go. If I were her, I would have wanted my friend to save me from the humiliating looks that I would garner throughout the day. But, a friend telling you is different from a stranger. When a friend brings it up, it is a funny situation where you can laugh together. When a stranger brings it up, your face goes red and you suddenly realize the lack of a place to hide. 

Just the other day, I walked into a party with the tag on my shirt. My only saving grace was my braid that hid it. But, it was not going to last long. Somebody noticed it and came up to me saying that the tag was showing. As graceful as I tried to be, I started getting fidgety, with my ears and cheeks going a bloodshot red. It was the same feeling you get when you trip and fall and try to make zero eye-contact, assuming that nobody noticed. All I could think of in that moment was 'Why had this person told me?'. Had he not mentioned, I would have gone through the party happily. I could not figure if I was grateful or agitated at him for bringing it to my notice.

So, what is the right thing to do in such a situation? Just ignore and let the person discover their folly, giving them the solace that nobody noticed, or actually point it out, put them through temporary embarrassment and save them the sideways glances? I never know which one is right. I guess the comfort level with the person might direct my actions. So, my question is, what would you do in such a situation and what would you prefer people to do if you were on the receiving end? Do our answers change depending on who the person is? And should they change? Just some questions that linger on and bring on the larger issue of what is morally right may not always be socially appealing.

There are many situations like these when you are not sure of the other person's reaction. And although, you might want to step in their shoes, it is not always easy. Because every person is different, and every person handles embarrassing moments in unique ways. What, then is the acceptable protocol and is there even one?

As always, please take a moment to share any experiences or comments!

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