As you walk into a restaurant you might see several diners and a variety of tablecloths. Some are neat and organized, some disastrous. On one side of the room you may see a couple carefully setting aside dishes and utensils. Other tables are chaotic, with cups, saucers and bowls strewn all over with food debris left randomly on and off plates. Are these customers rude and tactless or are they distracted? Maybe they have spent their lunch hour on their cellphone, making appointments and closing deals, or maybe they are just hygienically impaired. Does the mindset of the diner make a difference when we consider the mess?

Single mothers with small children surely get a pass. No one expects them to keep projectiles out of the hands of preschoolers. It's best to consider the splattered cloth a modern art project, a strip mall Pollock. If she can keep strained peas off the backs of the people in the next booth, she is to be commended.

A studious, geeky type wearing a starched white collar button down is staring at his laptop and dripping his tomato soup in various directions. Is his concentration too intent to be bothered with spilled food? Should we treat his clumsiness with disdain, or do we cut him slack because his mind is twisting through logarithms we can hardly fathom?

At the back table, seated intentionally close to the restroom, is the young musician. He has a table full of scribbled liner notes and chord sheets. His dreadlocks waving like wind blown shrubbery as he studies his paper, nodding his head as he sings an unwritten song under his breath. At some point earlier ketchup from his fries has moved from his plate onto his Transmatic t-shirt. The artist probably doesn't even know about the dark red half circle on his chest. Is he guilty of crude behavior or the prioritization of vision?

Every picture tells a story. Even if the picture includes a spilled ice tea and four discarded pickles.

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