Monday, February 10, 2014

Assumption Not Well Made

It was that gentle reminder from my girlfriend Barbara that prompted me to schedule my yearly mammogram. 

When I entered the waiting room of St. Luke's Mammography Center, I registered and then took a seat in the waiting room.  Just as I was picking up a copy of Vogue, I heard my name called.

I had no idea that an unfavorable encounter with a sullen women would lead me into a moment of genuine connectedness

 Hi, I'm Jane*.  I'm fine thanks.  Come back this way.

Okay then, I said to myself.  First off Jane, I never asked you how you were doing and secondly, could you be any ruder?  I said to myself.

As I was undressing from the waist up and getting my ever-so-not-flattering-snaps-go-in-the-front-flowered-gown on, I was starting to get upset.  How dare this Jane woman be so rude?  What's her problem?  Doesn't she know that 99 percent of women that walk through these doors are either scared to death of what's about to take place, or frightened of the thought of their "ladies" being put through the guillotine?  Have some compassion Jane.  It's not my problem you're such a grouch.  Cheer up!  Isn't being friendly part of your job description? Guess not Jane.

As I was snapping the last button and getting ready to wait for Jane to take me back to the exam room, a thought crossed my mind.  What if Jane really is having a really bad, ugly, awful kind of day?  I have those days too and I don't always treat others in the best fashion when I'm experiencing those moments.  What if I kill her with kindness instead?  Yeah, I'll try that!

As Jane came into the changing room to retrieve me, I followed her into the small exam room.  As she went to take her seat to start my health history, I knew I had to see what was behind this behavior of hers towards me.
Jane, it seems like you're having a rough day.  Everything okay?
Who would have thought that particular statement and question would have changed me, allowed her to be herself at that moment, and to change my ways of assuming as well.

As the time was passing in that exam room, Jane and I exchanged compassion, a heartfelt desire to remember deeply, and also a moment where we both cried and embraced each other.

You see, Jane had lost her husband a year ago and the anniversary of his death was fast approaching.  I too was approaching the anniversary of my mother's death two years ago.  When Jane spoke her words of pain, loneliness, and heartache, I couldn't help but relate to her and her circumstances with a loved one being gone.  Jane and I spent the next 30 minutes talking about how our faith has gotten us through such times, how society puts time parameters on when you should be "over" a death of someone dear, and we also spoke about how one day we will be reunited and what a party we will have!
As I was wiping my tears away on my floral gown, I hugged her once again. 
 I parted from the exam room and went into the room where my girls would be x-rayed; I thanked Jane for the openness she shared with me. 

While I was waiting, I reflected on what I had just done.  I had turned one person's day around by not making an assumption.   I could have easily continued with my negative mind frame about Jane.  I could have been just as rude back to her.  I even could have filled out a comment card about her behavior towards me before our conversation and possibly gotten her reprimanded or even fired.  But I didn't.  I chose to see the reason behind her mean disposition.  I chose to get to the bottom of it, and that I did.  What I thought was going to be a meaningless statement/question posed to her, turned out to be a life lesson for me.  It not only brought me to the realization that people are going through difficult times, but also to the realization that I too could be affected in such an amazing way. 

So the next time you are affected by someone's bad attitude, rude gestures, or even not-so-friendly behaviors, take a second to not make an assumption that they're just rude or mean.  Take that second to care, have compassion, and to turn their day around.  You might just find that it's you that was the one who walked away a better person. 

The results of my mammogram?  Cancer free; thanks for asking!

*Name has been changed to protect the identity of those involved.

*Article first appeared in Idaho Family Magazine


  1. Love this! It is so easy to get wrapped up in our own worlds and forget that other people have their own important worlds too! Thanks for this reminder! I am so impressed you said something! I am pretty sure I would have just decided she was a crabby person and left it at that. I bet she really appreciated you asking her what was wrong too! Job well done! (And Woohoo!!! for a clean mammogram!!!)

    1. Thank you! I LOVE your feedback! You're funny, "I would have decided she was a crabby person and left it at that." I have done that one too many times and what ends up happening is it ruins my day because I take how they behaved as a reflection of me. I couldn't have been more wrong in this encounter. It taught me such a valuable lesson.