The walk to the table was like most – no trips or stumbles. I looked at the table and contemplated which ink jar I would take back to my desk. After choosing one at random, I moved my hand toward it and grabbed it. Two things happened. I didn’t grab the ink jar and it tipped over as I knocked it over in my direction. I panicked, and with both hands quickly scrambled to put it upright. Moments later, horror struck me.
My hands were nearly completely black with ink. My tan pants were also decorated with black polka dots from the ink splatter. As a young 9th grader terrified of any attention in front of a group, my only thought was to quickly flee to my desk and hope nobody saw my hands or pants. Moments later I heard the voice…
“Somebody spilled ink and it wasn’t me.” Andy, a fellow freshmen uttered those words. It was all over for me. The teacher would find the ink spill and do a thorough search of the classroom. I’d be humiliated in front of everyone. If I could just disappear, things would be all right.
As the teacher and some fellow students cleaned up my mess, the teacher asked the class who made the mess. The silence was eerie and I knew that unless I fessed up, it would remain that way. Students looked around and it was very apparent somebody was not stepping forward to accept the blame.
Another student saw my pants and said it could be me because I have splatter on them. I gulped, but just shook my head denying it. The issue was not pressed and perhaps some other students had splatter from doing ink paintings in class. Maybe that was my saving grace. Nobody stepped forward to own up to the act – my act of disaster.
I left class that day and as far as I know, was never found out. My ink covered hands and splattered pants were two dead giveaways that I was the culprit. My mess, which took some scrubbing to clean was fixed not by me, but by the teacher and some other students. I got away with it…
I often wonder how much we miss the obvious evidence and signals right in front of us. How often do we decide that something can’t possibly be a certain way, even though most signs point to it. If I with my ink covered hands and splattered pants can get away with an ink spill like this all over a table, what else can we get away with?
What have you gotten away with in your life? What obvious signals have you missed that have led to difficulty or tragedy? Is it possible to catch everyone who does something bad or disrupting or will there always people who get away with ‘it’?
Note: this is a true story about me when I was in 9th grade at Kalamazoo Central High School in Michigan :)