I’ve browsed through the collection of stories on this website before, and I have always silently congratulated myself on avoiding such boorish and awkward behaviour. I thought that, while I may not be the most polite, well behaved person in the world, I was exceptionally polite for someone my age.
I no longer feel that way.
A few days ago, while out Christmas shopping with a friend, we stopped to have a snack and a rest at a local cafe. While I was there, a lady with a large scar down her face walked in, and seated herself at the table opposite me. I am pleased to say that nobody in the cafe gawped, and the waitress was calm and professional as she served her. I felt a rush of happiness to witness the impeccable manners of those around me. It was not to last long.
After our snack, my friend excused herself. Bored in her absence, I began to daydream, staring off into space.
A deliberate cough returned me to reality. To my shock and horror, I had been staring, almost gawping, directly at the lady with the scar! She was understandably upset, and quickly left the cafe. In my shock and embarrassment, I did not manage to explain to her what had happened.
My friend returned to find me silent and shocked, while most of the cafe patrons shot me disapproving and even openly hostile looks. I felt like an insensitive boor.
What should I do if this ever happens again? What should I say if I encounter the lady again – should I explain what happened, or simply let it go? 1220-11
While you did not mean any harm, every observer around you interpreted your actions to be rude. Just suck it up as a consequence of being inattentive to where your eyes were focused and rest in the knowledge that you were the sole catalyst for a cafe full of people believing they made the world a better place with their unified disdain to perceived rudeness.