One day I was driving to the airport after visiting my kids and grandchild. I’d overslept and was worried about getting through the mountains and over to the California Central Valley. It was about a four-hour drive to reach Sacramento. I’d hurried to brush my teeth, throw the suitcase in the car and drive the distance. I arrived on schedule, which usually is absurdly early because I’m a chronic punctual type. I’ve been that way my whole life –until my late fifties when I decided panic was over-rated.
I returned the car without a problem, checked my bags, and got through security. I decided to treat myself to a chai latte. I made small talk with the nice people behind the counter who for some reason were having a hard time looking me in the eye. I suddenly felt older, dumpier, and meaner.
Just to be sure I was all set for boarding, I made a last trip to the bathroom. As I met my face in the mirror to check my hair, I gasped. There was dried white toothpaste near my mouth and chin. I turned to an older woman who’d sidled up to the sink.
“Oh my God, I am so embarrassed. I had toothpaste on my face all this time. Nobody said anything!”
The lady looked at me and said, “Honey, I’ve been all over the world. A few times. You are never going to see those people again. Don’t worry about it. Trust me.”
Journal prompt: write about one of your most embarrassing moments. How did you get through it? Do you have more than one? When you are ready, define how shame is different from embarrassment.
Discussion: Are you one of those people who will tell a stranger about an embarrassing missed detail, or do you hurry to get away?