(Your) Experience Isn’t Everything

It is all too easy to walk around as though everything we experience is Truth. It may be a very real experience, and there may be some truth to our perspective, but it is imperative to recognize that our perspective may not encompass everything there is to learn in any situation.

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An afternoon encounter in a coffee shop:
Sandy the barista is cleaning up the crumbs from another patron who breezed in and out again without ever making eye contact. This has become part of life, being invisible, and for all that Sandy has mourned in her down-graded status from elementary art teacher to coffee server, the lack of human connection is the worst.

Jerry is a plumber and his life is full of other people’s crap. Literally. He, too, serves in an invisible profession and people often complain about the fees he charges. He’s just dealt with another client who called while he was in the middle of another job and chewed him out on the phone for not being immediately available to fix a problem that was all-too preventable.

Jerry enters the coffee shop and waits behind three other indecisive customers. Just as he reaches the counter, his phone buzzes and he checks the incoming text.

Text: “Hey, Jerry, since you are OBVIOUSLY not coming today, I thought I would let you know as a COURTESY that I don’t need you and Rapid-Rooter is on their way. Thankfully THEY weren’t too busy to fix my disposal. Have a nice life, Jerry.”

Internal Jerry: “I should text her back and tell her that the last four jobs I handled were after Rapid-Rooter destroyed the customer’s pipes. Nah, let ’em find out on their own. Serves them right. I hope they forget to turn the water back on when they leave. Oh, gee, now I forgot the name of the coffee Dan brought to the job last week.”

Glancing up, Jerry says: “Yeah, I’ll have a large umm, you know coffee with the foam and throw in some vanilla.”

Sandy: “Hi, I’m over here, and you are going to have to be more specific. Do you want a latte, cappuccino, macchiato? How much esspresso, how much milk? You need to give me something here.”

Jerry: “What? Hey, you are the coffee expert! I just want a coffee with steamed milk and vanilla! How hard is that?”

Sandy: “Steamed, or foamed? First you said foamed, then steamed. Which is it?”

Jerry: “You know what, forget it. Just give me a large black coffee to go.”

Sandy: “Ok, that will be $3.”

Jerry: “$3 for a lousy cup of black coffee? Keep it. I got better things to do!”

Let’s look at the situation here. Sandy feels invisible, and when Jerry comes up to the counter with his eyes glued to his phone she gets irked. Then she feels that he expects her to read his mind when he hasn’t even given her the courtesy of looking her in the face. She wants to help him figure out his order, but is having a hard time getting past her irritation. It shows through and the frustration builds. Let’s see Sandy’s internal dialogue.

The afternoon has been difficult and full of indecisive customers. Now this guy in coveralls can’t even wait until after he orders to check his phone.

Internal Sandy: “Seriously, man, you had all that time to check your messages, now you are holding up the line. I should just skip you and move on to the next customer.”

Jerry: “Yeah, I’ll have a large umm, you know coffee with the foam and throw in some vanilla.”

Internal Sandy: “Not another one! No eye contact. Doesn’t know what he wants. Look at me, look at me, look at me!”

Sandy: “Hi, I’m over here, and you are going to have to be more specific. Do you want a latte, cappuccino, macchiato? How much esspresso, how much milk? You need to give me something here.”

Jerry: “What? Hey, you are the coffee expert! I just want a coffee with steamed milk and vanilla! How hard is that?”

Internal Sandy: “OMG! What does he think I do here? The menu is 4 feet long for a reason! First he doesn’t know his drink, now he can’t even be clear about how he wants his milk! I’m an artist, dang-it!”

Sandy: “Steamed, or foamed? First you said foamed, then steamed. Which is it?”

Jerry: “You know what, forget it. Just give me a large black coffee to go.”

Sandy: “Ok, that will be $3.”

Jerry: “$3 for a lousy cup of black coffee? Keep it. I got better things to do!”

Internal Sandy: “What a plumber is questioning MY prices?”

Neither of these people wants a confrontation. Both are looking for a little courtesy and are frustrated by factors that have nothing to do with this interaction. And they have a lot in common, but are so focused on their own circumstances that they don’t recognize an ally when they meet one. Both of their perspectives are real, but neither one has the whole truth behind the encounter.

How could this have gone better? Maybe if they both expressed what was behind the frustration and shared their perspective instead of assuming the other person was aware of what they are experiencing.

Sandy: “Excuse me, I am sure that what you are doing is important, but I really feel invisible when people don’t look at me when they order.”

Jerry: “Oh, sorry, just have this annoying customer who texted to tell me she called my competition. Look, I don’t know much about coffee so you are going to have to help me out.”

The scene plays out completely differently when we offer a way for people to connect and join us in a world of shared experience.

Maybe we could all be a little more open to sharing our perspective and being willing to join in another’s perspective on our quest for the Refreshing Life.

For more perspective blogs, check out the weekly writing challenge below.
http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/writing-challenge-shoes/

***Personal Disclaimer: I neither control nor endorse the content on other blogs. If you read other writing challenge posts, you do so at your own risk.Β 

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6 thoughts on “(Your) Experience Isn’t Everything

  1. Pingback: Kick ‘er ‘ead in! – Weekly Writing Challenge | alienorajt

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  3. Pingback: Weekly Writing Challenge – Leave Your Shoes At The Door | Joe's Musings

  4. Well put and wonderfully explained! It’s all too easy to be caught in our own bubbles of what we know to be true. I loved this artfully assembled illustration of that point. πŸ™‚ Thanks for participating in this week’s challenge! πŸ™‚

  5. Pingback: Laptop Fever [FLASH FICTION] | Ramisa the Authoress

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