African american woman wearing a sweater peeking in shock covering face and eyes with hand, looking through fingers with embarrassed expression.

Oops! Being Present is Good Thing

I rounded the corner in the locker room and almost bumped into a man. Immediately a little red light started flashing and there was a mental traffic jam of thoughts…

“Maybe it isn’t a man?” Sometimes you cannot tell behind winter clothes and masks and all.

“Hello.” I said calmly.

“Hello.” Definitely a man.

“What is he doing here?” I considered just saying the obvious: “You know this is the women’s locker room, right?” But I’m learning to take a deep breath before blurting my first thoughts.

I stood in front of my locker, swimming suit dripping puddles of water onto the floor, and opted for a less confrontational approach–assume the best, that he was simply confused.

“Umm. Is this the men’s locker room?”

I opened my locker door. Nothing inside.

“Yes.” His tone was ordinary–I may as well have asked, “Is it snowing outside?”

“Uhh… oh… ” I made a rapid return into the corridor and continued down the hall to the women’s locker room (which, I now know, is exactly like the men’s–they even have that machine on the wall that rings out your swimming suit.).

I’m still not sure how that happened. There’s this little complaining voice in my head every time I leave the pool and have to walk half way down the corridor to get to the women’s locker room. You walk past the whirlpool room, past the fan blowing cold air, past the office, and then past the men’s locker room. All this in a swimming suit feeling chilly.

Evidently, that voice wasn’t loud enough and my thoughts were back in the swimming pool. I still cannot believe I walked through the wrong door. And I’m so thankful that there was only one (well dressed) man in the the room!

Lesson? Be present and aware.

Then there was the time last year when I got a phone call while doing some drive-through banking… and drove off with the empty canister. The issue of the phone call was distracting and I was in a rush to pick up my niece at school and…

My niece has an infectious laugh which fueled a fun drive back to the bank. It’d only been 10 minutes, but they’d already replaced the canister. Bless that teller–she laughed right along with us.

Lesson? Be present and aware (and avoid rushing).

One more story (not that I don’t have more than just three!).

This time it was a quick trip into the local grocery store to pick up money for my niece from Western Union.

Here’s how it goes: grab a pen from the pen container and a “Receiving Money” form, get in line, fill out the form, pull out the driver’s license, lay everything on the customer service desk, smile and wait.

We got the money and turned to leave, but my keys had disappeared. Let me just say that I am my father’s child when it comes to keys. Also that I have a method for preventing emergencies by always putting my keys in my right coat pocket and in the kitchen drawer to the left of the stove.

The keys were not in the pocket. They were not in the (locked) car.

My niece started to suspect that the manager at the desk had taken them (of course I knew better than to jump to that kind of conclusions… ahem!)

We went back and forth to the car retracing our steps. I called my beloved because we have a spare key and we know where it is (one of the many perks of being married to him).

Then the manager called out…

“Are these your keys?” And of course they were.

He didn’t even wait for us to ask. “They were in the pen box.”

So I dropped them there when I pulled out a pen. Seriously?!

“No, Tia,” my kind niece said, “he must’ve put them there.”

I wish.

Lesson? We don’t get present and aware overnight. But let’s keep trying!

Onward!

Alicia

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