The Act of Spilling Things and the Making of a Mess

You've gone and done it — you've spoiled the day with a spill. Both humans and domesticated fish alike worry themselves silly over spilling. A brief moment occurs for all humans when we spill.

It's performed in slow motion, and we understand what is happening, as it happens, but remain powerless nevertheless. The cup falls. The jar slides. The bowl overturns:

I spilled. 
I have spilled. 
I am the spiller.

When something is spilled, we mistakenly allow an organic substance loose amidst our tightly woven containment system for all organic material.

We flush, we pour, we drain, we water, we transfer, but never do we purposely allow food or liquid to just linger about casually in our living space. That is why we created sinks, and jars, showers, pipes, and trash bins. The shapeless have no place out and about.

When something is spilled, everything stops until the spill is contained, neutralized, and order is established. Nobody likes cleaning up a spill; it's  it's messy, funless. With so little time in the day, a spill steals away precious minutes that could otherwise be applied to sitting on the couch or eating more snacks.

But in the end it all comes back to you. And everyone knows that the spiller must clean the spill. In the home, you are the janitor, the cleaner, the cook, and the spiller-cleaner-upper. There is no escaping it.

Often times it requires the use of several cleaning devices: mops and brooms, sprays and sponges, chemically-laced mistake removers. Entire closets are dedicated to the spill; arsenals of cleanliness are collected, stored for future spills - spilling is inevitable, it is proof of our existence, of life on Earth.

But what about a spill made in public? A spill at the store? Or at work? There it is all too easy to become confused after spilling, even disoriented. 

A glass jar of something or other slips away and falls to the floor, crashing into a dozen smaller versions of itself. You, the spiller, are at fault, but it's not clear what will happen next.

Firstly, you assess the scene. Did anyone see me? Yes. Eye contact is made, and guilt is established. You could walk away. I've seen people walk away. But where do we draw the line?

What kind of person do you want to be? The kind that leaves the scene of a spill? What if you did that in your own home and just left a crushed glass jar of salsa on the kitchen floor? What would happen then? Surely you must do something.   

Cleaning up your own public spill means finding the professional responsible for spills in the area so you can plead your case. Can I clean it up? You ask. This is of course just a courtesy, you will not be asked to clean up your public spill.

The store, office, wherever, has anticipated this long before you came around. Your services, surely inadequate to begin with, are not needed here. You are now a person that spilled, but one who also admitted to, and politely offered assistance, in the removal of the spill.

That should make you feel good. You can live out the rest of your life knowing you did the right thing. We're not animals after all.

Life is full of unexpected bumps in the road, many of the self-created variety. Someday soon, maybe I will spill something and not get all huffed up about it.

I will observe it as I do any occurrence in this crazy world, and with a hint of amusement, a tilt of the head, and a sly smile, I will enjoy the experience because spilling means I am alive, alive to spill again another day. 

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