December 2, 2020
The older gentleman caught me off guard as I maneuvered through the crowded neighborhood.
People walk and jog in the area frequently, so it didn’t shock me when he stepped out toward my moving vehicle.
I eased the brake pedal down slightly in preparation to stop, still weaving around the unusual number of vehicles parked on the street.
He remained a fair distance from my car, but he made it perfectly clear he was talking to me as he pointed a stern finger my way, waving it in rhythm with the intense anger spewing from his mouth.
Truly confused at what was happening, I chose to continue moving and make my way out of the neighborhood. I could hear him yelling for a bit longer, but I still didn’t understand what had upset him so much.
Friends happened to be in the vehicle behind me and witnessed the episode. They interpreted the scene for me later.
The gentleman determined I had rolled through one of the neighborhood stop signs — which was not the case but is what he thought he saw — and decided to publicly and loudly scold me for it.
What actually happened was that one of the large vehicles parked on the street blocked his view, so he had not actually seen the full stop I made at the stop sign.
If I had not been so confused by why he was irate, then I might have taken more offense to his accusation.
In the end, it became a funny story to share and an excellent example of how we all can easily be misguided by what we think we see or determine we know even when we can tell our view is blocked or that we have incomplete information.
Filling in the holes
All of us have the ability to fill in the holes and develop a seemingly solid storyline about a situation or another person. It takes a lot of discipline and careful assessment to separate definite, no-question facts from assumption and possibility.
During work on a recent news story, our team discovered public comments posted by a pastor on social media about the topic being covered.
He shared his opinion clearly on the matter and seemed to have intimate details about the situation, according to the statements made.
Rather than take the comments and run them as they were, we reached out to the pastor to ask him to share more about what he had said and provide examples to back up the statements.
He responded to our request quickly and with kindness, and asked that we not publish the comments.
His reasoning? He actually did not have first-hand knowledge of what he had shared.
While he stated it matter-of-factly as if he had seen it in person, he realized he could not actually substantiate the claims.
His post was more of an emotional reaction than anything else, but he now grasps the difference between stating an opinion as fact and taking the time to see all angles clearly before making accusations.