Bubba did the water-run today, bringing our three-gallon bottles and two-gallon water dispenser to the store to refill. Our tap water, while drinkable, leaves me feeling as if I’m coating my innards with scale.
Back from the store, Bubba carried the dispenser and one of the three-gallon bottles into the house. He left his truck parked curbside. The last bottle, filled, sat on the passenger-side floor, the truck door open. Bubba had thought about closing the door as he made his first trip to the house, but he figured no one would steal the water bottle and, besides, he would be back in a flash.
Stepping back outside onto the front stoop, Bubba looked toward the truck and saw, in disbelief, that the water bottle was tipping over the door edge and out the truck. Too far away to save it, it crashed to the curb, shattering the bottle.
I was at my desk working when all this happened. Bubba came into my office.
“One of the water bottles is broken. I don’t know how it happened,” Bubba said.
“It was filled?” I asked. I imagined the bottle with an unexpected weakness, suddenly giving way; cracking open on the drive back from the store, burdening Bubba with having to mop up his truck.
“Yeah. I was unloading them when one just fell to the ground. Cracked it.”
“So, it fell. And broke.” I’m now in statement mode, trying to reconcile Bubba’s first sentence with this most recent one.
“Which means you do know how it happened.”
“Well, yeah I know it fell. I just don’t know why. Why did the bottle shimmy across the floor and out the door while I was gone? The truck was parked. The engine was off. The ground is basically level. The bottle was simply sitting on the floor. Why did it fall?”
I laughed at how conversations can go. I had been struggling to understand how Bubba could initiate this broken-bottle conversation by telling me he didn’t know how the bottle had broken, and then one sentence later tell me he had watched it fall to the ground and break. Minor cognitive dissonance was wigging my head out.
I explained to Bubba the whole bottle-breaking-timeline-and-explanation confusion I was experiencing
He got it, and then mused about his choice of language, wondering why he had said he didn’t know how the bottle broke when, clearly, he did know how.
“I wonder,” he said, “if I was worried about being blamed for the breakage; falsely accused of something I didn’t do.”
I could see it; our inner characters have their roles. They hijack our words and say things that don’t make sense to us even upon rewind and review. But there they are; stepping in to defend and protect. And, sometimes, sow confusion.
So, one of our water bottles is now broken. And we don’t know how it happened.