Have you ever been embarrassed beyond belief ...for someone else? The most embarrassed I have ever been for a complete stranger occurred in an elevator. I was living in Chicago and my commute included a slow and quiet elevator ride to the top of an office building before entering my cubicle.
The monotony of a commute can cause most of us to miss occurrences only observed by newcomers. You know, the ones that face a new journey with a smile and enthusiasm. For most, jam packed vehicles have a steady purpose. They deliver us safely and quietly to our personal work space. We enter, stare at the ascending numbers on the steel wall, or at our shoes as if we are checking for loose strings. Passengers look up or down but never at each other.
On this day, there was little movement. As we all enjoyed the last stretch, I secured a nice space close to the doors on the far right. This insured no view of bad threads or balding heads. There would be no
wondering what kind of pet was on the back of the jacket attaching itself to my wool scarf. I would remain still without yielding to departures. It was a good spot. It was a good day.
As we started to ascend, a nervous young woman was looking about. She looked to her left and then to her right. Without hesitation or volume check, she belted out, "Aw, when are you due"? Her voice seemed amplified as she looked at the middle aged woman standing immediately next to her. As the saying goes, you could hear a pin drop.
The woman spared her no relief. She looked at her and sternly yelled, "I am not pregnant". She was without child and with a skinny frame and protruding stomach. I thought the young woman was going to cry. There was no escape for her or for any of my fellow passengers. It was a very long ride for the novice, the oddly shaped woman, and for the rest of us.
While you are probably thinking, an honest mistake, not so fast. Be mindful of your comments to complete strangers. Offering a good morning greeting, a smile, or a courteous gesture is very nice. But take it from me, questioning and/or commenting about physical status can be very inappropriate and embarrassing.
Or, if you must, not in the elevator. Consider the stairs!