I cant remember what it was exactly. All I can remember is that I was very tired.It was early in the morning but I was already feeling knackered. Tiredness coupled with a million thoughts racing through my mind and the lift ( elevator for my US peeps) was about to shut. Lift shuts and I miss my train. I miss my train means an 30 mins extra to my journey which means I get to my meeting late. And there is nothing I hate more than going into a meeting in full flow mumbling ‘ sorry I am late’ ( black people always being late stereotype and all).
So when God answered my prayers with the lift door opening I just jumped in and mumbled ‘ Thank God’ under my breath. I was still trying to recover from my Usain Bolt like sprint when I heard a loud ‘ A thank you would have been nice’. Erm who & what is this individual on about? I looked back and a man who was clearly not amused was glaring at me. Oops it actually seemed like I was the who and what!
Apparently my miraculous door opening was from this man who saw me running and held the lift so I could get in.I was totally oblivious to this and was so wrapped up in my own thoughts and feelings that I did not even notice not talk of saying thank you. I was mortified to say the least as ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ are regular staples in my vocabulary. I go out of my way to say thank you to people and even say thank you for things some might consider ‘ people just doing their jobs’. I apologised and thanked him after explaining that I had no idea and was just so into my own thoughts. He was probably thinking before my explanation ‘ wow she is so rude’ .Having a rough morning though was not an excuse to forget my manners however that one incident could have left that man with a bad impression about me and even gone on further to form a bias about people who look and sound like me.
A similar incident happened last week with a colleague telling me he saw me on the train and said hello and I totally ignored him. He was convinced I saw him and just did not want to say hi. Again, I honestly did not see or hear him. Again, wrapped up in my own thoughts .My morning commute is one of the few times in my day when I am not talking to people (both little and big people ) and so I use it as ‘me’ time. I am usually reading,reflecting or listening to a podcast and just always into myself. More generally just being a Londoner( we don’t talk on the train lol). I apologised again and thankfully this person kind of knows that I am usually not rude,so he accepted my apology.
While I really should pay more attention to people around me in the mornings(right?)it got me thinking about how quickly we often jump to conclusions about people based on one interaction.
I do tend to ‘side eye’ people and automatically go straight to an inherent character flaw when people act a certain way in certain situations. Don’t get me wrong I am not making excuses for bad manners as some people really do lack good manners.But as I reflected on these two incidents (and numerous others) it is clear to me that sometimes even ‘good people’ have their own less than perfect days.
Instead of always assuming the worst,we could pause and reassess the situation. Give the benefit of the doubt .I was also glad that they both confronted me about my ‘perceived’ rudeness .Both conversations were slightly uncomfortable for me but at least they gave me the opportunity to redeem myself .Which by the way,they were under no obligation to .I also accept that my reasons (or excuses) could be deemed invalid. But at least they gave me the opportunity.
A lot of times people would keep quiet,give a side eye and just automatically jump to ‘she has a problem with me’. Which ironically could have been the case for my colleague as we had differing opinions on an issue just a couple of days before.
The world is in a really cynical place at the moment and it is so easy to automatically assume the worst about people. We even judge people’s intelligence/character by 140 characters in a tweet(in some cases though this is true as it’s habitual and I can think of one individual as I type this).
Most of us are guilty of this but sometimes there could be an explanation for the perceived ‘slight’ or rude behaviour . And sometimes it really is even not about you. You never know what people are battling in their personal lives.
So my charge for us all this week (yes us cos I am the queen of side eye and eye rolling LOL) is to practise the pause. Don’t jump to the worst conclusion about that person’s character.If possible(as it’s not always possible) maybe do the less comfortable thing of pointing out the issue and you never know you just might be pleasantly surprised.
Thank you for reading and have a lovely Tuesday and week ahead.
Quote picture credits- Pinterest