I volunteered at the senior center last night for a bit. I noticed there’s an old piece of farm equipment in the field behind the building. Made me think about an experience regarding seniors some time ago.
A few years back I had a trainer in NJ who’d been in my organization for less than a year. I finally had a chance to ask her about her background when I got down there to visit. She shared she was from the south (Arkansas) and before she got into training she used to do photography. She would travel all around the south taking pictures of seniors she said. She’d pull them right off the combines, haul em’ into barns and take their pictures. She even added she brought clean clothes to dress them in sometimes. I thought to myself…. why would anyone pull old people off dangerous farm equipment and dress them up to get their pictures? I asked her nervously.. ” Did you put them all in a book or something?” she said “Yes for sure they all went in the book that was the point”.
I almost asked if she had her photography book nearby but was a little unnerved so I nodded my head and changed the subject. She was a great trainer from what everyone said but I admit I was a little worried after that about what she would do if she had older folks in her class.
About a 6 months later I remembered her story and told my wife with all the disgust and concern I could muster reflecting on the way she treated the elderly. My wife listened, pause and said “You are a moron, she was taking pictures of High School Seniors for their Senior Pictures! And she had to haul em’ off the combine I bet because that’s what kids do in the South after school.”
Oh. I felt silly. ( still do actually).
But the point is ( other than to make you laugh to start your day perhaps – I sure did thinking about it again) is that for at least 6 months of my life – because I misheard or misunderstood something, I thought this woman trainer was something maybe akin to the Buffalo Bill character in Silence of the Lambs. For 6 months (and maybe for the rest of my life unless I’m careful) – it made me think oddly about photographers – especially if they are from the south. It made me think and worry about the elderly on farms and how vulnerable they are.
Misunderstandings are usually small. Sometimes they are big. And sometimes they are way bigger than the one in which my poor trainer who forever when I see her, I’ll think of her dragging old people through corn stalks and pig troughs to snap their photo like some Life Magazine photog.
But misunderstandings can also be powerfully damaging as you can tell. It seems to me we need to watch using the phrase “It was just a misunderstanding” — that “just” has got to go. Take it from me, dig a little deeper. If you are honest and in places you don’t talk about at parties- there are those things you learn in a meeting, or in book, or in a deep conversation with a loved one that blow your mind. You realize you misunderstood. You misunderstood for maybe months or even years. You realize you misunderstood something that might be a lot less funny than me and my trainer in New Jersey.
I’m heading back to the senior center Sunday to help out a bit more; it’s a luncheon. Heard they’ll be taking pictures for the paper. Here’s to hoping that machine in the field doesn’t start up.
Till next time,
Grow The Business.