Context Is Everything

While waiting in the Urgent Care facility for my Mother-in-Law to be checked out after her bad fall down the escalator, a woman seated just two seats away from me was talking quite loudly into what appeared to me to be a iPod Nano with wires on each side of it.

I began feeling somewhat irritated as the woman made call after call, each of them quite loud.

Although I attempted to tune her and her calls out, they were loud enough that I–and probably most of the people in the large waiting room–couldn’t help but hear what the calls were about. She had cut her hand and had to have it stitched up, but her two elementary school children were about to be let out of school. She normally picked them up, and was trying to find someone who she knew and trusted–and that the school knew and trusted–to pick them up instead.

I briefly thought to offer to pick her kids up for her but quickly dismissed the idea. I couldn’t leave my in-laws, and even if I could, there is no way a mother is going to let a strange man go pick up her kids.

I certainly could understand why she was making so many calls, but why did she after to be so loud? She seemed concerned but not frantic and there didn’t seem to be stridency in her voice just yet.

Then I heard someone ask her when she was between calls about the device that she was talking into. She explained, “I’m deaf. I need this device to be able to hear my cell phone.”


Now I understood, and felt bad that I’d been irritated by her volume level.

Context is everything.

This story has a happy ending. (My stories nearly always do, as I love happy endings.) I heard that she found a neighbor who would pick them up in time.

I also noticed three coincidences:

Both she and my MIL were there due to a cut hand.

Her neighbor is about the same age as my MIL.

Her neighbor and I have nearly identical surnames (hers had an “R”) and both are somewhat unusual names.)

Coincidence? Perhaps. Perhaps not, but interesting to me nonetheless…


About russtowne

My wife and I have been married since 1979. We have 3 adult children and 4 young grandsons. I manage a wealth management firm I founded in 2003. My Beloved is a Special Education teacher for Kindergartners and First Graders. I'm a published author of 23 books in a variety of genres for grownups and children. In addition to my family, friends, investing, and writing, my passions include reading, watching classic movies, experiencing waves crashing on rocky shores, hiking in ancient redwood forests, and enjoying our small redwood grove and fern garden.
This entry was posted in Attittude, Awareness, Children, Parenting, True Stories I've Written and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Context Is Everything

  1. So true. That’s what happens when we jump to conclusions! I’ve put foot in mouth many times when I should have just waited a bit and have sorta learned to not judge!

    • russtowne says:

      It sure is! I’m glad that I was able to discover the facts and revise my view of the situation. It was much easier to feel empathy for her when I wasn’t judging her.

  2. What a great example of not knowing what others are going through… when something is irritating us like a cashier who seems unpleasant, or a receptionist who just barely acknowledges your existence. Often there is a reason behind their attitude…or actions…Diane

  3. thoughtsfromanamericanwoman says:

    You are right you always have happy endings! How often I jump to conclusions too – lesson learned from a very wise friend!

  4. I love this Russ :-). Something I’ve learned to do over the years is not to judge other people or form opinions too quickly. Because often there are explanations, reasons etc. And I love love LOVE the synchronicity. I am a big believe in it :-). Meg

    • russtowne says:

      Thank you for your kind comment, Meg. I’m obviously still learning the lesson. I’m a slow learner so I’ll probably find myself in such situations over and over again until the lesson finally sticks in this thick skull!

      I enjoyed the synchronicity too.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s