The other day, I stepped outside my mom’s home in Northwest Washington D.C. It’s a nice quiet 1940s developed neighborhood with shady streets and well landscaped lawns.
A car was driving by and stopped. A woman about my age got out and approached me. She asked if she could borrow a metal spoon as they had just purchased a tub of ice cream to eat in the park and it was rock solid frozen. The plastic spoons she had were not going to work.
I hesitated as my mind processed that if I give her one of my mother’s spoons, I most likely won’t get it back such is the nature of loaning things to complete strangers. I knew my mom had some mismatched spoons and would likely part with one.
I did find it odd that they were going to eat ice cream in what she called a “park” which is really just a narrow strip of land in between two residential roads and has very dense foliage. There aren’t any benches and tons of mosquitoes and other bugs.
But, feeling generous, I went inside, got the spoon, and gave it to her. She noted the address and promised to return the spoon. I thought nothing more about it and got in my car and drove away.
The next night, my mom remarked that the woman had never returned the spoon and in jest, said that I owed her a spoon. Oh yeah, I remembered. Well I didn’t expect to get the spoon back anyway and truth be told, it was a crappy spoon for scooping frozen hard ice cream.
My family and I had a discussion about the missing spoon and the possibility that it could have been used for drugs came up. Oooohhhhh. Now that thought had honestly never occurred to me.
Here’s what I saw; a woman about my age dressed appropriate for the weather get out of an old boxy looking Cadillac type vehicle and asked for a metal spoon.
Nothing about her triggered any suspicion other than the fact that they were going to eat ice cream in this “park” which isn’t a park. I did not see the driver of the vehicle, ice cream, or where they went after I gave her the spoon.
But now with this alternate scenario, what do I choose to believe? This is where our judgments and stereotypes come in. In the absence of any additional information, I have a choice now.
Do I believe the woman’s story about the ice cream or do I change and go with the drugs?
The best course of action is to just stop thinking about it period. I’d already decided I wasn’t getting the spoon back. But the mind sees puzzle, must solve, puzzle.
The choice is mine. The choice is yours. I can believe the ice cream story and that most likely the spoon was bent beyond recognition (you know what I’m talking about) after her attempts at scooping ice cream and she chose to just drive away rather than return a mangled spoon.
Or I can believe that they used the spoon to cook their drugs or whatever the slang term, in which case I don’t want the spoon back anyway.
Our preconceived and immediate judgments are real. Mindfulness practices help you to become aware of your thoughts thus arming you with the benefit of self-awareness in these types of moments.