Hump Day: Making assumptions is never a good idea

Hump Day 2 croppedHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Moncton Times & Transcript

Three people in the last couple of months have started a conversation with me about a controversial and highly charged political issue. Each time, they (wrongly) assumed that I agreed wholeheartedly with their position. In their mind, it was a common sense, black-and-white issue to be blamed on the government.

To all three, I had to pretty much stop them in their tracks before they continued the conversation. I can assure you this was for the sake of world peace; for as strongly as they felt one way, I felt just as strongly the other way. While I’m sure you’re dying of curiosity, I won’t go into the details because they’re just not pertinent to the point I’m trying to make. Sometimes, we make assumptions that just turn out dead wrong. (I will tell you that the issue was not about whether or not raisins should be in bran muffins, a debate which has broken up more than a few marriages, I’m sure.)

What surprised me so much was how absolutely positive these individuals were that I would agree with them – and not only just a little bit. I’m sure they were convinced that I’d nominate them for a Nobel Peace Prize and yank it out of the hand of the eventual winner if it wasn’t them. Sorry, but I really don’t feel like apologizing to a poor, 90-year-old, four-foot-nothing, severely stooped Peruvian nun who’s been rescuing starving children from ghettos for the past 70 years. I’d probably tackle her on stage much harder than she could handle.

When these people started talking to me, I literally put my hand up in the air and said, “OK let’s just stop right here because we’re going to get into an argument.” To which they replied (for the sake of argument), “You mean you agree with putting raisins in bran muffins?” I absolutely do, as a matter of fact, and I’m quite passionate about it. In fact, I’m so passionate about it that I’m willing to call you every name in the book right now – and some of those names might not be very nice. Raisin power! They were completely gobsmacked (I love that word!) that I felt so strongly about putting raisins in bran muffins (again, for argument’s sake).

I told them right then and there that I considered the matter a question of human rights and that paying extra for raisins was just something that we had to do as a fair and just society. While that diffused the impending arguments, I think we were all surprised at our mutual reactions. They were so sure that I’d agree with them, and I was just as shocked that they thought I would.

pregnantMaking assumptions can be awkward, for sure. To this day, a good friend of mine will refuse to ask a woman when she’s ‘due’ if he believes she’s pregnant. It seems like a scene out of a sitcom, but years ago he asked a woman when she was due – assuming she’d happily share the news – only to be told that she was not pregnant. Needless to say, he was mortified. He could be in the delivery room watching a birth and he still won’t assume she’s pregnant. Maybe it’s just gas.

Like everyone, I’ve been caught making assumptions many times, only to feel terrible about it afterwards. One time I remember well is when I shared a video of a female college band member playing on the field during a football game. She looked completely out of it – staring straight ahead, no facial expression, nothing! The video went viral with everyone assuming she was on drugs or something. I, too, shared it with all my friends and mocked her heartily. Oh, those awful college kids and their nasty drugs. She probably didn’t even realize where she was!

A couple of days after the video came out, it was confirmed that the girl was actually blind. She wasn’t stoned. She wasn’t drunk. She knew where she was. She was just blind. Well, I deleted the video from my Facebook newsfeed immediately and posted a sincere apology. How could I have been so stupid? It was a good lesson, though, because it heightened my awareness, which has in turn saved me from embarrassing myself many times since then.

We’re all prone to making assumptions. I mean, we have to assume we won’t get hit by a car crossing the street or we’d never leave the house. Then again, the driver of the car coming toward us also assumes we’ve looked both ways. Let’s hope everyone’s assumptions on that one are correct.

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