Did you ever stick your foot in your mouth by complaining to someone about something and then later found out that it wasn't anything that the other person did, or neglected to do? I'll have to admit that I have been guilty of that too often.
Usually my errors had to do with one of the children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren. I would see that a requested job had not been done. Or I would find a mess left after a child had been working on a project. I often would assume the worst and berate the child. How terrible I felt later when I found out that the reason the job wasn't done, or the mess was not cleaned up was because another authority figure (usually someone related to me by marriage) had given another more urgent task for the child to do.
With children we can hope that they will understand our apologies and not be too upset. I said, we can hope. I know that some critical remarks stay with a person for the rest of their life. In fact, I remember some that were directed at me many decades ago. I understand them now, but that doesn't change the fact that they hurt and were remembered.
So, with several years experience behind me in speaking up when I should have remained silent, I changed the column that I was going to write today. I was going to point out a few things about our town that bother me. Last week I had praised Nevada and told my readers how proud I was of our county. I drove by Cottey College and saw the flags out in preparations for the influx of new families with students arriving for the first time. I was thinking how nice everything looked and felt sure that these new friends would think highly of our town.
Then I went to mail a letter. I always use the drive through box if I have the proper stamps on my parcel because it is much quicker. (And maybe because I am a bit lazy?)
With the thoughts running through my head about the impression we can be making to others, I turned in to the parking lot by the drive-through mailbox. The very rusty sign that faces the entrance to the lot caught my eye immediately. I am sure it had not gotten rusty just since I drove by there a couple days ago, but that day I noticed it. Then I noticed the broken pavement, the rather beat-up looking mailbox and the exit sign from the lot.
My first thought was that this would make a good subject for my next column. But then I remembered some of the other times I had opened mouth and inserted foot. Also I didn't want to call attention to a fault when I am trying to ballyhoo our town.
So I called the post office and found out from the courteous person on the other end of the line that a man in the eastern U.S. owns the post office building and the lot. The local people don't have control over what is done.
So I was very glad that I didn't use my complaints as a subject for today's column. It would have been embarrassing for me to have misjudged the hardworking staff in our post office.
But now I'm not sure what I should write about. I keep remembering those signs and can't get them out of my mind. But I know that I won't complain about them now.