On being … situationally aware?

By Ingrid Sapona

One of the more fun things about writing On being … is finding the right title. Sometimes a couple different titles come to mind. Sometimes the mere addition of a question mark makes all the difference (to me, at least). As you’ll see, this column falls into both those categories.

This past weekend I went on a club cruise to a nearby yacht club. It was a hot day and so before the happy hour festivities, I decided a shower would be nice. Besides the fact that my little boat doesn’t have a shower, it’s environmentally better to use facilities that are connected to the municipal water/sanitation system – in other words, to shower at the club.

So, I with my shampoo, towel, flip-flops, and a change of clothes, I headed to the clubhouse to find the showers. Now, I know that some folks, when they hear “yacht club”, may envision some luxurious, spa-like facility. Well, that’s rarely the case (at least, not with the majority of clubs on Lake Ontario). Instead, what most clubs have is a few shower stalls. In fact, that’s pretty much what this club had. One bonus was that each shower had its own small change area with a couple of hooks for clothes and towels.

As I stepped into the shower, I noticed that the floor was really un-even. As I was lathering up, I looked down and around at the stall itself. It wasn’t a pre-fab stall. It was the kind with the floor and walls all tiled. There was a drain hole in the middle of the stall floor and I thought they probably wanted the floor sloped so the water would flow into the drain. But, it seemed to me that they did a pretty sloppy job and instead, the floor was more un-even than sloping toward the drain.

Anyway, later, as I reached for my conditioner, I looked down and noticed that on my right foot I was wearing one of my dollar store flip-flops that I always wear in public showers. On my left foot, however, I was wearing a sandal. Besides being irritated with myself for showering in one of my favourite sandals, the 1-1/2 inch height difference between the flip-flop and sandal pretty much explained the unevenness!

I had to laugh… There I was – so present to the moment, noticing the contour of the shower stall floor. Not only that, I was so analytical in my assessment of the situation, and so sure of the explanation for it (poor craftsmanship). And yet, I was so wrong!

When I was done showering and doing my best to dry my poor sandal, I thought of other times I’ve had this kind of situational mis-awareness. One of the most memorable happened years ago when I was driving from Buffalo to Cleveland.

It was a trip I had made many times because I went to grad school in Cleveland. About 40 minutes after getting on the NY State Thruway, I saw a sign for a sod farm. As soon as I saw it, I thought, “Gee, isn’t that interesting – there’s a sod farm on the way to Cleveland.” But my thoughts didn’t end there. As it happens, I knew that there’s a sod farm on the way from Buffalo to Rochester. So, when I saw the sign for the sod farm, I reasoned, “Wow, I guess Western New York is pretty fertile – two sod farms. Who knew?”

Ten or so minutes later, I saw a sign for the first Rochester exit. Yup… turns out the sod farm I saw the sign for wasn’t a new one on route west to Cleveland – it was the one that you see when you head east to Rochester. What can I say? I got off at the exit, phoned the friend I was going to see in Cleveland to explain that I’d be late and I made damned sure that when I got back on the Thruway I was headed west!

I wonder, does this kind of acute, albeit not-quite-accurate, situational awareness happen to others? I think it must happen to folks who, like me, want to make sense of things that just don’t seem quite as they should be. Then again, maybe there’s another explanation…

Can’t think of one? Well, here’s a hint: the other title I considered for this column was On being … a dumb blond move.

© 2016 Ingrid Sapona


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