Sunday, September 2, 2012

Never Assume!

The inspiration for this post came from my trip to the bank on Friday. I had assumed it would only take a few minutes so I didn't take my knitting with me. Big mistake! It took forever, and without my knitting I thought I might crawl out of my skin while I was waiting. Not having anything better to do with my time I was reduced to people watching, which can be an interesting enough pursuit if you are at an airport, but not so much so at the local branch of your bank.

There was one other person waiting, and he happened to be Native American. I realized that anyone looking at the two of us sitting there would probably make an assumption. They would assume that only one of us most likely grew up on an Indian reservation, and that it wouldn't have been "white as Wonder Bread" me. I have no clue where the gentleman spent his childhood, but I spent mine on the Coeur d'Alene Indian Reservation in northern Idaho. As I sat there, minus my knitting, I started thinking about how often assumptions end up being wrong, sometimes disastrously so.

When Alexandra was younger she made frequent visits to Children's Hospital in Vancouver. We lived many hours and three mountain passes away from Vancouver at that time, so when she had an appointment I would also schedule David in for an appointment with his prosthetist who also happened to be in Vancouver. I know when people saw Alexandra and David with me at the hospital they assumed David was the one who was there for medical treatment.

People continue to assume David, a multiple amputee, needs help. Last week he was at the bus stop here in Kamloops and a random guy walked up to him and handed him a $20 bill. He didn't say a word, just gave David the money and walked away. I'm not faulting the man for his kindness, but it did seem like he had looked at David, made an assumption that he was helpless, and acted on that wrong assumption. I am, however, faulting David for pocketing the $20.  :-(

When I was in China three years ago with Karsten and Diana most people assumed Diana was our tour guide. Which actually was true, but not in the way the Chinese were thinking.

Sometimes assumptions can be dangerous. One winter when we were living in the Kootenays Jay's sister Maureen came for a visit. When she saw a huge chunk of something on the road she assumed it was a clump of snow and thought she could just drive over it. That turned out to be a costly assumption. It was actually a boulder, fallen off the rock cliff at the side of the road.

Sometimes assumptions can be funny. Jay's other sister Lynn was here for a visit last week. I had to go into town one of the mornings she was here, so Lynn decided to make her own cup of tea. Because she had seen me put the tea kettle on the stove top (that way the steam goes up the oven hood instead of damaging the wood cabinets) Lynn assumed it was the kind of kettle you turn the burner on to heat up. Let's just say this is a really bad assumption to make if it is actually an electric kettle.

A few years ago I decided my yearly self-improvement project would be to work hard at not making assumptions. The problem with this plan is I assumed at the end of the year I would be cured. I'm not. Here's my latest example. Remember the Longitudinal Socks I blogged about a few weeks ago? I really enjoyed knitting that first pair, so ordered some Zauberball Crazy to knit a second pair.

My first assumption was that all sock yarn knits up equally. This works with regular socks because I can always adjust the length. Not so with Longitudinals. You are committed to the completed length the minute you cast on. As I progressed on the first sock of pair #2 that little voice in my head started to whisper to me. The one that was trying to tell me it was looking a bit big. I managed to ignore that voice right up to the bitter, and I do mean bitter, end. Right before I Kitchener stitched it I placed it around my foot and saw that it would easily fit my son Kellen, who has size 13 1/2 feet.

My second assumption was that if I liked knitting this project the first time I would enjoy it the second time around. Even if there hadn't been the unfortunate incident involving ripping out an almost completed sock and starting over, the love for this just wasn't there on round two. Here they are. My second and final pair of Longitudinals.






So what are some assumptions you have made that turned out to be wrong? Assuming, of course, that you have read far enough to get to this question.  :-)








15 comments:

  1. those socks turned out beautifully!
    i have caught myself making assumptions that turned out to be wrong but what's made me start making an effort to not let those get in the way of clear observation or just plain happiness has been my experience with my boyfriend of a little over a year.
    i'm still pretty young at 20 and feel like i'm a beginner when it comes to learning to be part of a healthy, whole relationship with someone else, and it looks like part of doing well with someone is to not make assumptions about their actions or words when it would be much better to just ask or talk about it.
    assumptions could be small, like assuming he didn't want that tea i made for him when he really just didn't notice it and was grateful now that it was pointed out, to something that could cause more of a quarrel or grudge, like assuming i wasn't liked anymore, just because he needed some space to himself for a few days.
    it's definitely something i want to see pour over into the rest of my life--the habit of approaching things with a clearer mind, without any clouding by stereotype of previous experience. so far it's done it's fair bit to make me a happier person. :]

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Britney! I am happy with the socks themselves, it was just the process I didn't enjoy. I am looking forward to the cooler fall weather so I can wear them. It is going to be interesting to see if garter stitch socks are comfortable.

      I like your idea to approach things with a clear mind. I wish I was more successful at that in my own life!

      Delete
  2. Great post! I think we all make assumptions all the time, my Grandma always said it makes an 'ass out of you and me' lol, I'm sure you've heard that before though.
    As for David pocketing the cash, I probably would too, surely their unnecessary pity is worth $20 to them! And I like your socks, sorry you didn't love knitting them so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha! I hadn't heard that expression before. It's perfect!

      Delete
  3. Kristie,

    I like your longitudinal socks very much.

    But I love even more on what you say on this post. I've been also trying not to make assumption all my life, but along the way, I see assumptions all over the places. I've been guilty myself, too.

    It isn't a beautiful phrase, but a black colleague of mine long ago said once, "assume" in three syllables. That message is true. I was working in AARP then as a contractor, and many employees there were black people. I enjoyed working there and our no nonsense conversation. I miss it.

    What bothers me lately is that where I go, which is not many places lately, I don't see dark skin people. At my daughter's wedding, my daughter had the darkest skin. I just realized my life in the past was more integrated than now, and I don't feel comfortable in the place people are only warm to the same skin color. I had this issue in mind when I wrote my poem, "Under an Driftwood Arch." Out of this feeling of uneasiness, I mention it at a few groups to clear the air. We might need to check ourselves if we are fair in practice. I told them we do not have black people in our group,why? One leader only smiled as though she doesn't want to discuss it, and when I said I want to bring this issue up, the leader of other group said no.

    And in Facebook, I saw a good discussion on this type of issues, and saw a good comment. It said the change needs to come at personal level. I completely agree with his opinion, and it made my day. So I sent my friend request to the person, but since I don't know him, FB blocked my request. There are many people I don't know at first. Anyway, I can't blame FB entirely for it, but how we see people is entirely up to us.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It sounds like your colleague and Sarah's grandma (from the comment above) think alike! I think we are all guilty of making assumptions at one point or another.

      That is very strange that your writing group leader didn't want to discuss ways to make your group more integrated, and that the other ignored the question. I wonder if that is because they don't want to be inclusive, or because the conversation makes them uncomfortable. ??

      I enjoyed your "Under an Driftwood Arch" poem!

      Delete
    2. This is the way I feel Whatever problems we have, we need to strive for being fair in practice, and the practice includes such discussion. I feel suffocated in the group in which we avoid such discussions.

      Thank you for mentioning about my poem.

      Delete
  4. The socks turned out well, but apparently at a high price.

    We can work at not making assumptions, but I seem to have more trouble with those around me making assumptions...and expecting me to know what they've assumed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You bring up another issue about assumptions that I didn't cover. It is very frustrating when people expect others to be mind readers. Assuming that was your point... :-)

      Delete
  5. Wonderful socks, Kristie! Surely their successfulness makes up for the agony.
    And I'm with David. There can be generosity involved in taking as well as in giving. To have refused the money would have embarrassed the donor. This way, he was left with a warm feeling, I-did-a-good-deed, for the whole day. And David has $20 he didn't expect. Win-win.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Jean! I really do like the finished product. In fact, knowing that I would like them once they were off the needles was the only thing that kept me going. And thank you for pointing that out about generosity being involved in the taking as well as the giving. I hadn't really considered that, but you are right. It was a win-win situation. :-)

      Delete
  6. Great looking socks! And a great post there...

    ReplyDelete
  7. I seem to always be telling my family not to make assumptions, and on the basis of assumptions I find so many people (and I don't include my family in this) will think the worst of someone. Like the neighbour who bumped into me in the street recently and declared quite loudly that she had just seen Mrs P out for a run and Mrs P was on sickness benefits and should be reported. Now I don't know how my neighbour knows about Mrs P's financial situation but I do know Mrs P has mental health problems resulting from a very traumatic experience that you wouldn't wish on anyone ... maybe she runs to forget for a while. It's uncharitable assumptions that annoy me most.

    But on a lighter note there was the evening I assumed by husband was upstairs already so locked the doors and went to take a shower, only when I stepped out of it did I hear him knocking and calling from outside ... he'd been putting out the bins and I'd locked him out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What an odd thing for your neighbour to say. You are right. The assumptions people make often have them thinking the worst about someone.

      That's funny that you locked your husband out of the house. Hopefully he has a sense of humour!

      Delete