Two reporters are having a discussion near my desk. One has a large, black smudge-mark on his forehead. I do a double-take. The other didn't seem to notice. Or care.
Do I dare tell him that he might want to wipe his forehead, that there's some dirt up there? I don't know him very well, I might offend him. Should my first communication with this reporter be to warn him about dirt on his forehead? But in the same situation, I'd want somebody to tell me. I say nothing.
A copyeditor walks by. She's got dirt on her forehead, too. I do a double-take. Hers isn't so pronounced. It's lightly dusted. Could be a bad make-up day. My first instinct is to tell her. I didn't.
Coincidence? I feel the urge to wash my face. I make a trip to the restroom. I pass two more people. Two more dirt smudges.
Then I remembered. It's ash! Today is Ash Wednesday. The smudges are intentional. Desired. Last year I had this same dirt-smudge disconcertion that a quick Googling straightend out. But I forgot. Threw me for a loop once again.
Glad I didn't warn anyone to wash their face.
Back to work.