How many times have we jumped to conclusions about a situation, not truly knowing the facts or what transpired? Or, we make our own assumptions about things that couldn’t be further from the truth. We speculate, when what we need to do is learn more about the situation and the people involved.
I’m reminded of a situation that occurred shortly after going to work in the two story brick building our office is housed inside of on a busy street corner in town. Being new, it was my desire to make friends with others in the building. I was friendly, smiled, and spoke when I encountered anyone in the hallways or going up and down the stairs.
One day, as I sat at my desk proofreading some legal documents, I heard a knock at the door. Since we are a business open to the public, it alarms me any time someone knocks instead of coming right in to conduct business. (We have an apartment complex nearby, and residents has wandered over a time or two in the past.) I hesitantly rose from my seat. Before I could make it around my desk, the door opened, and I saw a lady I had passed in the hallway before. I smiled, thinking surely she was coming to have a friendly conversation. In my mind and heart, I had desired to befriend someone in the building, and it was my hope that she was there with the same longing as I; to be friends.
Sadly, that wasn’t the case.
She motioned for me to enter the hallway so we could talk privately, so I followed her thinking at this point she must need my help for something. As I walked, I prayed for God to equip me to help her to the best of my ability.
As I stood there in the hallway smiling at the lady, she proceeded to ask me if I flushed the toilet earlier when I used it. I’m certain I had a confused look on my face, as I was truly dumbfounded by the question. Yes, of course, I had flushed the toilet. The lady never cracked a smile as she proceeded to say that there was toilet paper still in the toilet when she went in the bathroom. Honestly, I did not know what to say at this point. I just stared back at her, as she rendered me speechless as she interrogated me about whether I flushed the toilet or not. I could not believe I was 49 years old and being asked about my bathroom habits as if I was a young child that didn’t know any better and hadn’t thought of flushing the toilet behind themselves. When I could find words again, I assured her once more that I had, indeed, flushed the toilet. The building was extremely old, and I imagine the plumbing inside of the building was just as old and may never have been replaced through the years and were likely clogged due to some type of build up. Some times even with modern plumbing, the back flow will cause remnants of paper to reappear after you’ve flushed. This was my only guess as to what was happening with the situation. I expressed this to her, and she stood there with this disapproving look on her face as she asked me once more if I flushed the toilet.
Now she was starting to get on my nerves.
First, she summoned me out of my office. She not only had the nerve to ask this question about whether I flushed or not, but she asked me several more times while giving a disapproving look.
There are three bathrooms in that building, and anyone from the public can (and do) use our facilities. Yet, I’m the one they are targeting? Really?
I tried to brush it off and return to my legal documents.
Now, I have been told that I look younger for my age, which I appreciate. But what gives anyone the right — and how would anyone ever have the nerve anyway — to ask another ADULT such questions?! It wasn’t like it was HER building. She wasn’t the landlord, just another tenant acting like the toilet police.
I truly try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I try to see the good in people. And I certainly try to gather facts before I go to anyone to confront them about a situation.
What ended up happening? The lady went to the landlord about me! The landlady and I spoke briefly about the situation. Then, the landlord placed a sign by the toilets stating the plumber indicated feminine products were clogging the toilets and to refrain from placing such items in the toilet. I was not the one clogging the toilets in the first place, but I knew without a doubt when feminine products were mentioned that I certainly wasn’t the culprit! The fact of the matter is I had a hysterectomy four years ago, so it clearly was NOT me!
Can you believe this woman had the nerve to approach me AGAIN a few weeks later about this same situation?
I was the new kid on the block, so surely I was the person causing the issue in her eyes.
I tried to take the high road yet again and be polite in my response to her, but I did not linger in the hallway listening to her accusations when I had work to do!
That afternoon, however, the situation really started to bother me. Writing is often therapeutic for me, and since I could not get this out of my mind, I stopped to write a letter to this offensive lady. After I said all that needed to be said, I placed a copy under her door and our landlord’s door. In the letter I pointed out the fact that I had a hysterectomy, so they needed to look elsewhere for the person flushing feminine products. However, while we were on the subject, I felt the need to point out the less than desirable condition a menstruating woman had left the bathroom in on several occasions with (***Warning: TMI***) blood on the floor and toilet seat. Again, this was clearly NOT ME!
I may have been on the receiving end of the “cold shoulder” after she read the letter, but I had enough at that point and welcomed the silence from her as long as she was leaving me alone now.
The landlord called the plumber out again shortly thereafter. He probed the lines, and then suggested adding a bigger toilet which would have a more modern and forceful flush. The landlord agreed to the installation of the newer and bigger toilet, and the plumber went to work putting it in. Since the shape of the bathroom had been mentioned previously, that, too, has improved. There have not been any more issues or accusations brought to MY attention either.
The moral of the story: know the facts before approaching someone making accusations. Give people the benefit of the doubt. And be KIND!!