08 Apr SLOW TO JUDGMENT
Would that we were all a little slower to judge, to jump to conclusions, to assume, well…pretty much everything.
My partner and I are finally getting around to finishing the lower level of our home with the result that there have been various tradespeople coming and going to provide estimates and opinions on the work.
Yesterday, a prospective tiler came by to check out the tile work required in the new bathrooms.
Because we have been working room to room, a lot of stuff has been piled up in corners to make way for drywall, paint and flooring. As we pushed and shoved our way past one of these piles, he took stock of the various fire department logoed bags of gear and the other fire service-related accoutrements stacked against the wall.
He turned to the two of us, in his mask of course, and asked, to my delight: “Which of you is the firefighter?”
Truly I do not for a minute believe he was being ingenuous and, maybe I’m grasping at straws here, but I was tickled by the question, hoping he asked it honestly and was giving me credit for looking fit enough to do that kind of physical job. I fessed up right away and pointed to my partner who retired after 32 massive years in a large urban department and the conversation went on to other firefighters we all knew in common.
It made me think though: how much benefit would derive if we all assumed that anything was possible and resisted the pull of stereotypical assumptions and conclusions? We all judge each other within seconds of encountering a new person and it takes a special force of will to acknowledge that knee jerk reaction and suspend judgment for even a few minutes, long enough to hear a voice or ask a question. In a world of constant stimuli and the barrage of information we judge in the same way we swat at mosquitos on a summer evening, thoughtlessly, casually, fatally.