My father taught me that I should always pay attention to what is going on around me. It could help you get ahead in life, avoid an awkward situation, or even save your life. Something as simple as noticing that a woman’s driver license say Oregon on it when she’s putting it back in her purse lets you know she’s not from this area, or seeing that a man’s laptop has a San Francisco Giants sticker on it when he’s putting it back in his bag at the airport can tell you that he’s likely traveling to California.
One particular moment comes to mine at a wedding I recently attended. In fact I was a groomsman in the bridal party. It was a great wedding and the family spared no expense on the venue, food, table settings and entertainment. And like any member of any bridal party, I spent much time up in front of the crowd, albeit silent, but nevertheless up on stage showing my support of the groom and his new bride. There were many other reasons why I, in particular, would have stood out among the rest of the guests.
So half way through the night, I was walking back up toward the dance floor, drink in hand as I was just leaving the bar in the back, when a man in his late 50s grabbed my bicep quite firmly and forcefully pulled me down where he was sitting at a table with a woman about his age.
“Get my wife a piece of chocolate cake…please,” he said quite sternly, attempting to mask his annoyance that I was jovially walking by them sipping a gin and tonic, having not noticed that his wife had been apparently overlooked when the cake had been distributed. Remembering that I had already eaten my cake quite some time ago, I responded,
“Sir, I’d be happy to get your wife a piece of cake. I do know that the chocolate cake had been cut quite some time ago and there’s a chance that there may not be any left. If not would she like some white cake perhaps?” I glanced over at his wife for a moment.
“It’s ok I don’t need any cake. Honey let’s just go dance,” she said, both our heads turning to the man.
“No! Get my wife a some cake now. She’s waited long enough. Get her chocolate cake, not white cake.”
“Alright sir, I’ll be right back,” I said, and then put my drink down and hurried to the back to check on the cake. When I got to the back of the room I found the wait staff continuing to cut up the cake and prepare to disburse it to the rest of the guests. Apparently they simply had not gotten to that man and his wife yet but were very close to doing so. I asked the girl cutting the cake if I could please take a piece from her stand. At first she protested but then she recognized me as a groomsman and reluctantly agreed to allow me to sneak a piece of cake.
I then took the plate with the cake and strolled back up to the front, weaving in-between people and walking to the bass of the music. I was in quite a good mood. I placed the plate on the table and said, “Here you are ma’am, one piece of chocolate cake.” The man sat back and folded his arms saying,
“Well thank you very much it’s about time.” The wife looked very excited and said,
“Excellent, thank you very much.” Then she took her eyes off the cake and glanced up at me, intrigued. Now she grabs my arm other arm, less forcefully than her husband did and asked me, “What is your name?” All the while using her eyes to search over my chest, as if perhaps looking for a name-tag.
“Dominic,” I told her.
“Dominic? Hhmm, are you new here?” Having just flown in from Colorado to California for the weekend, I was a bit perplexed at the question to begin with.
“Yes, new to the club?” Then the gin subsided and the implications came into focus.
“Oohhh, no I don’t work here. I’m one of the groomsmen,” I said chuckling to myself at the case of mistake identity. It quite amused me to be honest. Her face however turned pale and her jaw grew so long I thought it would hit the floor. The man’s sleepy looking eyes grew a bit larger but more out of confusion about my reply than anything else. It wasn’t until his wife’s fist met with his shoulder and she shared some rather choice words with him that his expression changes as he realized his mistake. She apologized profusely but I told her, “Please, it’s not problem at all. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you tonight. I’ll be sitting right over there if you need me,” and I pointed over to the head table where I had set down my drink. Then I walked away and met some friends on the dance floor and forgot about the incident. I didn’t really mean to mortify them, but I did find the whole incident quite amusing, and a good reminder to pay attention.