years ago… in a bygone era… there was a comedy medium called “vaudeville”. People performed short skits on stage and made people laugh.
One of the more famous bits out there was a skit where a small boy and a large dog are standing on a street corner. A guy comes walking up to the kid and says, “Hey kid does your dog bite?” and the kid says “No sir. My dog’s the nicest dog in the world.”. The guy reaches down to pet the dog and it all but rips his arm off. The guy yells at the kid, “Hey Kid I thought you said your dog didn’t bite!!” and the kid says, “Yeah – but that ain’t my dog!”.
As with all comedy – there are valuable lessons to be learned here. The first is obvious. Never assume anything. Just because a dog sits next to someone doesn’t make it their dog. (Don’t accept responsibility for an event beyond your control.) Lesson two… don’t blame someone else for your assumptions. It’s not the kids fault. Yelling at them because you assumed something does not make you less dumb. It just makes you loud… and still wrong.
Lesson three is that just because a dog stands next to you – you don’t have to make it your dog. A responsible person in fact, does not accept responsibility for the actions of dog standing next to them – and they don’t accept responsibility for the actions of people who assume things just because they’re in proximity to the mistake that’s been made.
Now, you can say the kid was misleading – but he wasn’t. The man asked a direct question, the boy gave a direct answer, and the out come was a near disaster. Is it the boys fault for answering a mans question? No – because the man never asked probably the most important question in that situation. “Is that your dog?”.
We all make mistakes and we all make assumptions. The quickest way to avoid both is very simply to know what is our actual situation. Where are we. What we’re doing. And what is going on around us. There’s a tendency for us all to become jaded as we get older and assume that when we enter situations we’ve been in before that we have all the information.
Boy with dog = boy owns dog = boy knows about dog.
But that’s not always the case. We need to begin to start accepting we don’t know it all. That what we see isn’t always the case, and to question the obvious whenever possible. In the mean time – begin with something small… learn to say “It’s not my dog.”.