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Shock Etiquette

When I worked in a grocery store, I occasionally had customers come through my line who wanted to talk about their surgeries and show me their scars. Usually before I could say, “I’d rather not,” I would have a close-up view of their surgeon’s handiwork. I never knew what to say. “Wow, nice stitching,” might have worked, but it just didn’t seem appropriate.

For most of us there are some moments in life that literally leave us speechless, but not my sister-in-law, Kelly. She may not always say the politically correct thing, but she always has a comeback. Recently, she was standing in line waiting to pay a bill and she was trying to read the fine print on the paper.

“I can’t see this,” she muttered.

The gentleman in line behind her said, “You think you can’t see,” and promptly popped out a glass eye, which he held out for her inspection.

Kelly looked at the eye and then looked back at him.

“It’s really neat how it matches your other eye perfectly,” she said.

“Thanks. I special ordered it all the way from Louisville,” he replied proudly. “Do you think I should have gotten a Chevrolet emblem or a John Deere?”

“Uh, what do you mean?” she asked.

“On the back of it,” he said, and turned it over for her to inspect. Lo and behold, there was a Chevrolet emblem on the back of his glass eye.

At this point I really would have been searching for words, but not my Kelly. Without missing a beat she replied, “The Chevrolet emblem looks great, but we have a John Deere tractor so I would have had to go with John Deere.”

“Then what happened?” I asked.

She shrugged her shoulders. “The guy popped his eye back in and we talked about tractors until it was time for us to pay our bills.”

I learned a lot about shock etiquette from Kelly’s conversation. In my opinion, whenever you are confronted with a situation and you don’t know what to say, it might just be better to remain speechless.

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