Silence is less embarrassing

Day 3 —Write about the worst time you’ve ever put your foot in your mouth.

When I was in College we had the choice of which overnight activities we could participate in.  I was young and fit, but even more relevant to my decision was choosing the trip that the hockey selector was leading.  I wanted as many chances to prove myself to him as I could.  Consequently, I elected for the 3 day hike over the mountain range in the Central Plateau. The final group was composed of 10 students, 2 parents and 2 lecturers.

We trekked over an amazing landscape.  Close up was the mountainous terrain that we walked on and within,  In the distance was the Desert Road.  Normally I would have the reversed view, observing the mountains from the Desert Road.


These two photos are from a trip in 2014, taken from  within my car driving on the Desert Road (hubby was driving)


It was physically demanding in places and I had to concentrate between the balance required for the walking stride and keeping balanced with the backpack riding my spine.  It wasn’t until the second day that I felt in control of my hike and had more ability to simply enjoy where I was, with less panic about when I might fall.

We spent nights at the huts set up for that purpose along the trail.  We cooked what was in our packs.  Everything we carried in, we carried out again, one way or another.  We spent the evenings sitting around a communal campfire talking between ourselves and any other hikers staying in the same hut.  We also nursed lumps, bumps, blisters and bruises.

One evening I wondered aloud whether any New Zealanders hiked the trails.  This query was like a bomb hitting ground zero and the impact spread hard and fast.  What I meant to question was whether New Zealanders appreciated what we had in our own country.  I did not mean to insult the international hikers that were with us at the campfire.

It was not until the female lecturer took me aside and explained how what I said could be interpreted to mean, that I realised I had caused the change in atmosphere at the campfire.  She explained that what I said could be interpreted that the international hikers were interlopers taking hiking spots from the New Zealanders.  I had not meant any offense to anyone.

I was mortified and while the others seemed to put it aside, I could not.  I was much quieter for the rest of the hike because I just couldn’t talk around the giant foot in my mouth.

What I subsequently learned was that this was going to be the pattern for some of my most embarrassing moments.  I am a big picture thinker but sometimes I just don’t think before I speak.  I say something that I believe is clearly explained and benign but to the listener it is insulting or badly thought through prior to my utter ing it.

This is why I like writing, I have time to edit and to think about how what I write might be interpreted.  I will probably leave it as it is but at least I had the option.



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