For several months now I’ve been avoiding a man I used to work with.
These days he’s the manager of the grocery store I frequent, and I refuse to drive an additional five miles to the next store just to keep from seeing him. Why have I been so reluctant to so much as say “hi”?
Because I assumed I knew why he was avoiding me.
The reasons for this awkwardness aren’t important, except to say, it has nothing to do with a failed romance (or any matter of the heart). We got along well when we worked together, but events transpired and each of us made an uncomfortable departure from that company.
Finally, I decided yesterday, enough is enough. The opportunity was right, so I started the conversation.
Turns out, he had no idea what had happened in my life. He thought I didn’t remember him, or worse. His discomfort had more to do with what he believed I thought of him than vice versa.
I’d seen him once shopping with his son, who’s adopted, and interracial. I asked if that was his son I’d seen him with, and he said yes, his eyes lighting up.
“He’s tall, like you,” I said.
He agreed, and smiled. Then I remembered what a friend had told me years ago: adoptive parents like hearing about nothing more than connections with their children, no matter how small.
Later I sent a text message to a friend who also had worked at the same company. “I completely misread his reaction,” I wrote.
My assumptions about what he was thinking were logical and consistent with what had happened with others, yet, they were completely wrong. How often do we assume we know what’s going on, even go so far as to say, “what else could it be?”
We don’t even have all the puzzle pieces of our own life, let alone others.
It could be plenty of other things.
You don’t know what you don’t know.
Image Credit: © Dashk — stock.adobe.com