Karin Fuller: Readers share distracted stories

November 19, 2018

There are times this feels less like a newspaper column and more like group therapy.

“Your recent story about getting into the wrong car reminded me of the time when I was at the store and thought I was putting items in my shopping cart,” wrote Sarah from Putnam County, “except it turned out not to be mine. I didn’t even realize what I’d done until I got to the register about the same time as a confused woman complaining very loudly about all the junk some weirdo had put in her cart.”

Sarah said she was about to confess, but so many people were watching that she quietly finished checking out and left, “Even though the Preparation H I’d accidentally put in the other cart was one of the main things I’d gone there to get.”

And this from another reader, who requested to be identified as “Just C.”

“I got in my car at Kroger and my key wouldn’t go all the way in the ignition,” wrote Just C. “I got so frustrated I called my husband to rant. After listening to me go on and on for a few minutes, he interrupted and asked if I was sure I got in the right car. Um I hate when he’s right.”

For what it’s worth, fellow Distracteds, I once went to Shoney’s with a coworker, who was right beside me at the salad bar, loading her plate. As she turned the corner to go down the other side, I thought it would be funny to reach under the sneeze guard and plop a few beets (which she despised) onto her plate. What I hadn’t noticed was another woman had stepped in between us.

The woman was NOT amused by my salad assistance.

Knowing that such things are more norm than exception in my world, it wasn’t surprising to get an email from my friend, David Miller, that said, “This sounds like something that could happen to you.”

David shared a link to a story about an Iceland tourist who unwittingly joined a search party - for herself - after failing to recognize the tour group’s description of the woman who had gone missing.

According to the UK Daily Mail article, the woman was reported missing from a group that had been visiting a volcanic region in south Iceland. She’d gotten off the tour bus to freshen up, and had apparently freshened up so efficiently her tour group members failed to recognize her upon her return.

“When the details of the missing person were issued, the woman reportedly didn’t recognize her own description and unwittingly joined the search party for herself,” wrote Chris Parsons in the article. “After a night-long operation involving around 50 people, the ‘missing woman’ eventually realized she was the source of the search and informed police.”

Not only does that sound like something that could happen to me, it sounded like something that almost did.

Once, in my early years working at the newspaper, I wasn’t paying the best attention to what I was doing as I was changing out the toner for the copier and it sent a puff of black powder all over my face. I went in the bathroom to clean up and ended up getting water on my mascara, which then ran. In cleaning that up, I ended up having to basically scrub all traces of makeup from my face.

When I returned to my desk, my boss took one look at me, decided I must be too sick to be at work, and sent me home.

Thankfully, he didn’t send out a search party for the “real Karin.” Who was not at all sick. Nor was she about to shun a gift horse when one was presented.

The final email I’d like to share came from Richard Boyd of Charleston, whose issue arose not because he was distracted, but because he was paying attention. Wrote Richard: “I was the manager of a finance company and we had a customer with the unlikely name of Arvella Murff. Well, one morning I saw in the paper that Arvella had died, so I coded the account as deceased and flagged it for follow up in 10 days.

“A couple of days later, one of my cashiers came back to my desk with a puzzled look and had Arvella Murff’s account card with her. She said, ‘Umm, Mr. Boyd. This lady is in the office to make a payment.’”

This lady being Arvella Murff.

So Mr. Boyd said he went up to the front counter, where the customer was standing, and told the woman he’d seen Arvella Murff’s obituary in the newspaper.

The woman laughed and said, “Oh no! That was the other Arvella Murff. Not me.”

And on that note, this week’s group session concludes. (And thanks for sharing! It’s nice to know I’m not alone in all this.)

Karin Fuller can be reached via email at karinfuller@gmail.com.

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