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A group of our friends took us out for Sunday brunch to celebrate my husband’s and my birthdays (I am four days older than him). One of my friends ordered a Pickle Mary. When her drink came, there was a large (one of those big pickles you see for sale in quick stops) pickle sticking out of a very tall and thin glass. When I saw it, I wondered how the drink was going to stand upright.

As I was looking at the Pickle Mary, the server reached across me to place the drink in front of my friend. As I suspected, the drink was top heavy and the whole thing spilled on me. I was wearing a white hoodie that now had tomato juice all over the left sleeve and down the front. My legs were covered in alcohol and tomato juice, and I could feel the liquid seeping all over my chair and wetting my whole bum.

I got up from my seat and the server was of course scurrying around me and the table trying to clean up what little she could. She was red-faced and I assume she was mad at herself and embarrassed because of the accident. I said, “Wow. I am really really soaked, and my jacket is white.” I didn’t get angry. I didn’t scream. I didn’t throw any kind of fit.

I stood in the middle of the restaurant waiting for the people to clean my chair, the floor, the table, and one person was trying to wipe me down. I think I said it again, “I am soaked and I am wearing white.”

Although I didn’t get mad or say anything rude to anyone, I wish I would have handled the situation better. I wish I would have reached out to the server who spilled the drink on me and said, “It’s okay. It doesn’t matter. What is a little tomato juice? Maybe it will be good for my skin.”

I know that it was an accident that the woman spilled the drink on me. I know that she was personally suffering in her own feelings about it and I didn’t use the opportunity to show kindness and compassion. I didn’t try to hurt her, but I didn’t help her either.

Much of what other people do to us is an accident, cutting us off in traffic, running their cart over the back of our feet in the grocery store, not seeing us and cutting in front of us in line, saying something that hurts our feelings. I want to be the kind of person that shows compassion, acceptance, cool-headedness, and thinks of the other person’s feelings, as well as, my own.

It seems there are always lessons to learn when I leave the house and venture out into the world. This time the lesson came in red – tomato juice and a server’s face. I wish that red would have been a cue to me to be as kind as possible. If there is a next time, and there surely will be, I’ll do better.

I’ve always said I am a lifelong learner, and that can mean more than always returning to the classroom. The world is a classroom too, and I am forever a student.