I'm catching up on my "This American Life" podcasts (which is wonderful BTW) while crafting today. Today's themes is "I've got you pegged," assuming things about people usually in error. The first story is about a 21 year old woman on a field trip to a museum with her school age developmentally disabled brother. When a museum staff member mistakes her for one of the developmentally disabled children. It's her story about how she didn't want to embarrass the staff member by confessing he's wrong. This story reminded me of something that happened to me years ago.
My husband and I decided to go to Red Lobster for our anniversary. He was being very attentive this evening. The hostess came to get us and see us to our table. My husband gives me his hand to help me out of my chair. He's being gallant. He then takes my hand and wraps it around his arm and leads me off to the table. The hostess says while pointing, "Watch your step." My husband says to me "Be careful there is a step here." We get to our table and my husband takes me to my seat. Pulls out my chair and makes sure I'm seated just the right distance from the table. Even I'm thinking he's going a bit overboard, but when your husband is being sweet I think just let them.
The hostess points out a chalkboard with the "Specials" on it. I look around and can't find it. She points it out again. My head is swinging wildly around the room this time. Again I have no idea where she's pointing. Suddenly, she gasps and says out loud, "You're blind I'm SO sorry!" She runs away. I look oddly at my husband and he to me. When we suddenly notice the "Specials" sign is a giant chalk board for the whole room to see is sitting at the end of our table. It was so close, so big and so obvious we didn't see it. The old cliche' comes to mind "If it were a snake it would have bit us." We laugh that we missed it. Then we wondered why would she think I was blind. Dear hubby and I think back on the last 5 minutes and realize that it probably appeared he had lead in a blind person. We felt so badly that we had accidentally embarrassed our hostess.
(lobster with seeing eye dog)
At this time the waiter comes squats down and starts talking to me like I'm a child... a blind child I suspect. I held in my laughter. Not laughter at the staff for trying to make me feel comfortable, but laughter at the whole situation. The assumptions that were made that made the hostess think I was blind. (You know nervous laughter that can't be helped some times.) My husband holding my hand. My husband taking my arm and helping with my chair on our special day. And the final assumption made that I couldn't see when all that happen was I didn't know the giant sign was sitting on my table. I thought she was pointing across the room. She never said, "The sign is ON your table bonehead." OK she could leave off the bonehead, but at that point I did deserve it.
Here I was faced with the same problem the 21 year old young woman was faced with. How do I get out of this situation without embarrassing everyone. I decided rather than just ride it out like in the first story to just come clean so to speak. The young man was squatted down being so nice and I just said, "I'm sorry, but I'm not blind." Now the puzzled look comes across the waiters face. He quickly stands up. He's now looking at me like I was perpetrating a fraud. I said quickly, "Let me explain what might have happened." I started from the beginning the hand holding, the arm holding, the pointing out of step, the chair sliding and the bonehead mistake of not seeing the sign RIGHT on our table. The waiter is now laughing and all is well. We never did see the poor hostess girl again though. I hope she didn't get teased too much.