Eleanor was a lady who was about the age I am now when I met her. Both of us typed away our days on electric typewriters. Carbon paper smudges could be found on our hands and desks. The faster Eleanor typed, the more askew her black wig became, and sometimes small unruly gray hairs escaped around the edges. Eleanor pounded that keyboard and flew through it all creating words on heavy bond paper. I kept up to speed and switched out my paper just when she did.
Since it was just the two of us who had to keep the place running and stocked with supplies, I soon learned that it would be my job to go get all these things. Luckily there was an office supply store right around the corner from our building. We looked through the small cabinet which seemed to be full while Eleanor made a list of items.
I didn’t mind going off to run errands since it got me outside. That day was bright with a blue sky, and the sun made long shadows of the buildings. My high heels clicked on the pavement while the breeze swished at the skirt of my dress. I held that list firmly in my hand.
When I entered the store, a helpful salesman greeted me and kindly showed me about the place. We gathered up the supplies which included folders. The folders were a good place to balance the 20 boxes of staples that Eleanor said we needed. I thanked the gentleman for helping me, left the store, and again clicked my heels on the pavement. All the while I held steady the piles of boxes of staples on top of the folders. As I rounded the corner, I was happy about my balancing act. Just as I approached the revolving doors, my clicking heels got off beat, and all the boxes of staples went crashing down to the hard pavement. Some boxes stayed intact, but many did not. Not only were some boxes all kittywampus, but there were many staples that had broken apart from their neatly arranged rows. I stooped over to pick the mess up and knew that my face matched the color of my dress. Little rivets of perspiration made a path down my spine. I could feel the stares of the passersby as I tried to move to hide my blushing face.
As I tried to pinch the lone staples between my fingers, a nice young man came to help. I don’t think I was even brave enough to look him in the eyes, but I know I thanked him over and over again. I even told him that I was okay, and that he didn’t need to help me, but he wouldn’t listen and stayed. We weren’t able to pick up every single staple because I could only stay in that state of embarrassment for so long. I gathered up what we pinched up, thanked him again and went through the revolving doors.
When I got back to the cupboard I noticed that there were plenty of staples there already. I told Eleanor through clenched teeth that I dropped the boxes. She shrugged and suggested that I stack the new ones as best I could with the intact boxes on the bottom, and the unorganized ones on top. She thought it would be best if we used up the mixed up ones first.
I could never figure out why Eleanor thought we needed so many staples. Inside I felt she was just playing a dastardly trick on me. When I left that job two and a half years later, some of the lopsided boxes were still in the cupboard. I wasn’t disappointed that I never got to see all those mixed up staples get used.
Even though I was in a state of embarrassment that day, it was still nice to receive help from a stranger.
Every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day. ~Author Unknown
Embarrassment is such a powerful emotion. I’m not surprised you remember that day so vividly. I’m sure anyone who witnessed the spill was sympathetic to your plight. We’ve all been in that situation. But when it’s you it’s happening to, it feels like you’re the only one in the world to ever experience it. I’m glad there was a kind stranger to help you out.
It seems like I was more easily embarrassed back when I was younger. If that happened to me now, I don’t think it would affect me in the same way. Sometimes it’s nice to get older!
I hate it when my face turns red. Inevitably it is when I need to speak up in room full of strangers. I’m glad you got through it though. 🙂
I think you’re right about being younger — I was mortified by things then, that nowadays I would just laugh off. (I thought you were going to end up marrying the man who helped you pick up the stapes…) 🙂