Nobody in the diner saw the little boy sitting at the edge of the booth eating his breakfast. He was silently going about his business as he clutched the knife and fork with his sticky hands. His parents were engrossed in a political conversation with an older gentleman in the next booth over while he began sawing away at his newly syrup-ed waffles.
For so many young children, the cutting of one's own waffle is an earned rite of passage.
So, undeterred, the 5 year old shook off numerous requests by his mother to cut it for him. Like a star pitcher waving off the slider call from the catcher, he was laser focused on accomplishing his task. At one point, the boy was working so hard on his cutting process that his elbows accidentally knocked over the small plastic cup of apple juice. Not wanting this to be the end of his culinary journey, the boy quickly uprighted the cup and went back to work. Unnoticed by everyone was the small puddle of apple juice that was slowly making its way to the table's edge.
Back in the diner's kitchen a middle-aged waitress (let's call her Nancy) was putting the final touches on her order for table 76. She was not feeling one hundred percent that day, but staying home wasn't an option. She knew she would have to try and fit a doctor's office visit in between shifts the following day. Twice already today she forgot to bring coffees out to the table of her "regular" customers. At first they poked fun at her misstep, but when it happened the second time they asked her if she was doing alright. They told Nancy that she seemed really distracted.
The thought of their question was consuming her mind as she placed the breakfast plates in front of the customers at table 76. They smiled at her as she asked if they would like anything else. They graciously said no, and as she turned around she never noticed that they all shifted the plates to their rightful owners. She also never noticed the clear puddle of liquid on the ground right below table number 75.
The next thing she knew, she was on her back looking up at the ceiling fan whirring overhead. Nancy didn't even know there were ceiling fans in the diner.
I have always been a fairly observant person. In fact, I pride myself on being an observant communicator. When in conversations, I make it a high goal to listen more than I talk. As a speaker I strive to learn as much as I can about my surroundings so that I can communicate something of value. (The times that I have been most influenced by a communicator were when he or she somehow took the time to understand me on a visceral level -even though I might have been one of a thousand in the audience.)
Despite all my efforts to remain observant and focused in life, I had grown more and more distracted. Things that never earned my attention before were slowly becoming a siren call beckoning me to leave my post. There was so much I didn't see coming.