Perception Misconception

The Cookie Thief by Valerie Cox

A woman was waiting at an airport one night, with several long hours before her flight. She hunted for a book in the airport shops, bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop.

She was engrossed in her book but happened to see, that the man sitting beside her, as bold as could be. . .grabbed a cookie or two from the bag in between, which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene.

So she munched the cookies and watched the clock, as the gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock. She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by, thinking, “If I wasn’t so nice, I would blacken his eye.”

With each cookie she took, he took one too, when only one was left, she wondered what he would do. With a smile on his face, and a nervous laugh, he took the last cookie and broke it in half.

He offered her half, as he ate the other, she snatched it from him and thought… oooh, brother. This guy has some nerve and he’s also rude, why he didn’t even show any gratitude!

She had never known when she had been so galled, and sighed with relief when her flight was called. She gathered her belongings and headed to the gate, refusing to look back at the thieving ingrate.

She boarded the plane, and sank in her seat, then she sought her book, which was almost complete. As she reached in her baggage, she gasped with surprise, there was her bag of cookies, in front of her eyes.

If mine are here, she moaned in despair, the others were his, and he tried to share. Too late to apologize, she realized with grief, that she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief.

How many times have we been like the woman in the airport, assuming someone else was wrong based on our perception of the situation?

We’re all guilty of seeing things from a limited viewpoint. Our perspective is filtered by past experience, education, upbringing, personal bias, and our own beliefs. To be honest, that’s life.

It’s a part of the human condition.

Sure, if we were all robots with perfect information and no emotional attachments, we would never make false assumptions.

We wouldn’t be wrong about first impressions or put people into mental boxes that make us feel more comfortable.

But we are human. So we tend to see things through filters. The most common filter being the I’m-right-so-you-must-be-wrong filter.

It’s a natural tendency. One that is humorously depicted in the Cookie Thief. The woman is seeing things from her angle and is righteously outraged. But a tiny shift in perspective shows her that she did not have all the information.

How many times have we refused to empathize with someone because we KNEW they were wrong? How often do we lean on our horns in traffic or yell out the window at someone who swerves into our lane? Would we still be so eager to point blame if we had a bird’s eye view of the road? What if we could see the whole picture, from far-away, with all the information at our disposal?

Or even crazier, what if we were right after all, but instead of acting outraged and convicting someone, we showed a little compassion? What if we shared our cookies with the rude lady next to us? How would the world look if we loved those around us even when they didn’t deserve it?

It’s an inconvenient idea.

It would require us to examine our perspectives constantly. To question how we see things. To do a little digging and make sure we have our facts straight. To have a thick skin and a short memory.

It would be a lot of extra work. But I think it would be worth it.

3 thoughts on “Perception Misconception”

    1. Thanks, Tracie! Haha, I don’t know about “so wise” but I do know a thing or two about cookies and if I can learn leadership tips by talking about cookies – I’m all for it! 😉

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