I recently spoke at a church in Minnesota. Upon landing at the airport, Michelle and I proceeded to get our rental car. I stood by the driver side of the car as I signed the papers to conclude the transaction. My wife opened the passenger side door and found something left in the car from the people before us. As you can see in the image above, it was an oddly shaped brush.
My wife, never one to be bashful, quickly informed our rental car associate that somebody left their brush in our car. Our associate didn’t seemed phased by this and replied that it was supposed to be there.
“For what?” my wife asked.
“Um… snow,” came the reply.
Michelle and I both laughed. The lady helping us didn’t. We tried to explain that we’re from Arizona and we don’t use those. In fact, we’ve never used one on a car before. Our rental employee seriously had a hard time wrapping her mind around what we just shared with her and continued to give us a strange look.
It reminds me that we often take things for granted. I’ve lived in exactly two states throughout my life: Arizona and California. Neither of which are known for their snow. So for me, a snow tool in a car is a pretty pointless item.
For our rental associate in Minnesota, that snow tool is an essential item that nobody even thinks about. You just use it when you need it.
Our confused conversation is the result of the gap between our assumptions. But we live with this gap daily.
- When those in my profession reference Bible stories that “everyone knows” and we alienate a guest who is experiencing church for the first time
- When a parent instructs their child to do something because they said so without explaining why
- When a boss takes for granted the fact that the people he leads don’t see the bigger picture like he does and they can’t make sense out of his recent decision
- When a person expects her friends to interpret her actions based on her intentions instead of the results they can see
The point is that the people all around us operate on a different set of assumptions than we do. The more we consider this the better we will interact with them.
Where are you taking things for granted and how does that affect the way others respond to you?