Waseca County Pioneer 111 W. Elm Ave.

Waseca, MN (507) 837-6767


Every person has a story worth hearing

Something interesting about assumptions is that we often don’t even realize we’re making them.
Let me offer a trivial example.
Once a month or more, I visit an aunt who lives in an elder care facility. As I finish my visits and want to return to the parking lot, I must follow a series of turns to get to the building’s main entry which takes me out to one end of the parking area–the end that is always farthest away from my car.
There’s another door that leads out to the lot. Since it’s mostly glass, I can usually see my parked vehicle right in front of the door as I begin the series of turns to the entry.
On this door is a sign: “Emergency exit only. Alarm will sound.”
One day my cousin and I happened to have coinciding visits, and were leaving the building at the same time. I was completely taken aback when my cousin pushed open the “emergency” exit door and walked out.
Seeing my look of surprise, frankly astonishment, she said breezily, “Oh, it says there’s an alarm, but there isn’t one.”
Now, my cousin is my aunt’s daughter, and so visits the facility more often than I do. Also, when my aunt–who has mobility issues and can be frustratingly slow–decides to leave the facility, my cousin is the one who must get her to the parking lot for a drive. Given those circumstances, I can understand why a shorter path to the car would make it worthwhile to test the truth of the sign.
But I cannot picture any condition (short of a genuine emergency) which would have led me to do it.
In other words, I made the assumption an alarm would actually sound, followed by embarrassing questions and awkward excuses on my part.
As I said, this is a trivial example I am offering to make a point: our lives rest on assumptions. Everything from the amount of time it will take us to get to our destination to the trust we will arrive there without incident.
But I was reminded this week that–just as it is unwise to judge a book by its cover– we shouldn’t make assumptions about the people around us. What they look like, what they own, where they spend their time–none of these should lead us to make judgments about who they are. Most especially, they should not lead us to dismiss the person as uninteresting or unworthy.
I say this because every person has a story worth hearing;  by overlooking or disregarding them, we lose the opportunity to enrich ourselves and our own perspectives. One genuine privilege of being a news reporter is being sent to places I might otherwise choose not to go, thus meeting people I might never otherwise have encountered.
In the past week and more, I have felt privileged to interact with the SMART bus crew and the passengers I met while riding last Friday. I was delighted to learn more about Marty Nelson and his 40 years with Security Insurance in Ellendale. Though we didn’t have any genuine conversation, I was deeply impressed by the drum majors from the bands which took part in the Marching Classic parade. Their composure and positive interactions spoke very highly of them all.
Anyone who was at Trowbridge Park for the award ceremony saw that the leaders from each band had contrived a short routine which they followed when their group was announced. The three drum majors from Eastview not only had a “winning” routine, they also gave a synchronized salute when other bands were announced.
Just think, I had assumed the award ceremony would be boring. Instead, it was enriching, uplifting, and downright fun.


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