April 1, 2013
Most people are aware of the three syllable version of the word, “assume.” It is the version that I like to keep in the forefront of my mind to avoid making the mistake that we all make from time to time — and that is to prematurely sum up a situation based solely on the knowledge that we currently have.
Several weeks ago, I read a Sedline comment concerning the publication of the names of students from Sedalia schools who had made the semester honor role. The caller mentioned that all other schools had been published and somehow, that meant that the Sedalia Democrat was being partial to other schools. I chuckled when I read the editor’s footnote clarifying that the Sedalia school district simply had not provided a list of names to be published as of that date.
There are so many things that we assume. Following is a list that I may or may not be guilty of:
• Everyone reads the newspaper.
• Everyone appreciates football.
• Everyone loves loud country music.
• Everyone wants to be your friend.
• Everyone understands Pig Latin.
• Everyone knows not to litter.
I learned many years ago that not everyone likes dogs; even the friendly variety.
Because I am a business owner, I assumed that I could take my dog to work without fear of consequence. After all, it is my business and my dog, right? Wrong! What I failed to consider is that phobias and allergies are both very real.
Now, I’m a cat person as well, but did you know that not everyone is? I didn’t either until the day I saw a former neighbor with a cat in a trap. When I asked what he was doing with that cat in the trap, he said (in his old school voice), “That (blankity, blank, blank) cat has been doing its business in my roses long enough! To the shelter with it, I say!” Oh, boy! Good point. Who wants cat dung in their rose garden?
And did you know that not everyone is out to “get” you? Well, to be honest, we all experience this feeling sometimes. It usually happens when we are down and it becomes easy to assume the worst.
My husband said that the biggest assumption he ever made was that things would remain the same after we were married. Ha! The joke was on him when I announced that my greatest assumption was that things would not remain the same! Pretty good joke, wouldn’t you agree?
Speaking of marriage; It is also assumed that when we repeat the words “for better or for worse” nothing worse than planning the wedding will ever occur. We either fail to ask enough questions of those who have been married more than 50 years or we don’t believe what they have to say because we assume that, somehow, our marriage will be “different.” Ha!
With our first child, we assume that she will be exactly where she said she would be, when she said she would be there. With the second child, we assume that she will be honest with us half of the time. With the third, we assume nothing!
The most dangerous assumptions we make are those made in anger.
“Oh, I know what she’s thinking!”
Does that sound familiar to any of us? Of course we know what someone else is thinking because it is what we would think if we were in that situation, right? Not necessarily.
Although we can become pretty sophisticated with our guessing skills (particularly with our spouse), we can also find ourselves in a pickle when we err. That is precisely why my husband and I agreed on a specific dollar amount that we can spend without asking the other for permission. As it turned out, I really wasn’t as happy about his new golf clubs as he assumed I would be.
George Bernard Shaw once said, “I learned long ago never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty. And besides, the pig likes it.” That quote has nothing to do with assumptions, but I tell my husband on a regular basis that my father handed it to me on my wedding day as his parting advice. Go ahead and laugh. I do.
So, how much does it mean to us to acknowledge our guilt associated with making assumptions and how do we begin to rectify it?
I don’t generally put much credibility in what actors have to say, but Christopher Meloni once said, “It ain’t easy to break out of a mold, but if you do your work, people will ultimately see what you’re capable of. Too often, people find it easier to make assumptions and stick with what they believe. They put you in a place and it makes their job easier. The good people constantly search for something different.”
I think that sums it up pretty well. We know what we need to do.
Have a great week!