October 9, 2012
My husband and I live is a suburb of Washington, D.C. Over the years we’ve witnessed a wide spectrum of disturbances, ranging from the serious (gang and drug activity) to the less serious (zoning violations). Among those lesser nuisances (and a big pet peeve of mine) is the sheer volume of cars in our neighborhood.
Cars Make Me Crazy
Warning: Dangerous People Live Here (Not!)
As my husband and I were out walking our two dogs the other night we saw a car parked in front of a house, the front covering part of the sidewalk and the back hanging into the street.
“Seriously?” I thought.
Were it not for the fact I was holding a leash attached to a 70-pound dog I might have gone into orbit – I was over-the-top furious. Meanwhile, my husband (who is my very needed rational half), didn’t think a thing of this obviously terrible situation. His inability to see the problem only enhanced my rage—I would again have to swing into action and right this violation of “neighborhood norms.”
My assumptions – my reality – said, “that person has no regard for our community and people like that are reckless and therefore dangerous.” I was already preparing to call the non-emergency number—fist clenching my cell phone as I made note of the address. As the neighborhood’s self-appointed enforcer of norms and moonlighting meter maid, I would once again save the day (thank goodness for me!).
As we approached, I saw who I assumed to be the owner of the car. “You can’t park like that!” I yelled.
“Oh, I know,” she replied “I was backing out to go to the grocery store and my car stalled.”
HER reality stopped me cold. Anger gave way to embarrassment. I felt like a jerk.
“I’m really sorry. I hope I didn’t offend you…I get so frustrated with the parking situation in the neighborhood.” She said she shared the same frustrations, told us she was waiting for AAA to arrive, and we bid each other goodnight.
My husband and I walked home, grabbed the jumper cables and went back to help the woman get her car started. A few days later my husband was out walking the dogs and coincidentally saw the same woman. She handed him a handwritten notecard thanking us for helping her. Sigh.
All of this reminded me that:
What assumptions have you recently had busted up? How do you see assumptions inhibit effectiveness in the workplace?
(Image via Dudarev Mikhail/Shutterstock.com)
October 9, 2012