Have you ever done something out of kindness that inadvertently hurt, embarrassed or offended someone? That’s the worst—when you think you’re being thoughtful, kindhearted or generous and—splat. It just lands flat.
So many mistakes are just mistakes. I think very few of us ever intend to be mean or cause harm. Remember the big hair in the eighties? This was a particularly challenging era for me—hairdo-wise—because I’ve very little hair. I used a lot of hairspray. Once, when I was late for something dressy, I thought I sprayed my hair with hairspray but had inadvertently picked up a can of Lysol. I had to spend an evening with investment executives smelling like fresh pine tinged with ammonia. Another time I went to church and a kind woman informed me that the back of my dress was tucked up- exposing way more than I would ever intend. Turns out, I’d sat on a half eaten, very sticky tootsie-pop. Another time, I was on my way to a parent teacher conference and eating a chocolate bar for my dinner. Somewhere along the way half of the candy bar must have fallen into my lap—where it melted, leaving chocolaty goo between my thighs. If I went home I’d miss the conference, but wearing white pants smeared with chocolate didn’t really seem like an option, either. Because the cost of the teacher’s regard was worth the cost of a new pair of pants, I stopped at a store along the way and pretty much bought the first pair I saw. The sales people were sympathetic and kind.
So, whether it’s Lysol, or chocolate, or tootsie-pops, sometimes we have to pay for new pants, expose our backsides or spend a smelly evening, because mistakes happen.
But wouldn’t it be great if they didn’t? I wish I could go through life doing everything perfectly, but that’s never going to happen. Not even for one day. Not today. And probably not tomorrow, either.