SBC Life Articles

Flashing Red Lights

The children begged for a hamster, and after the usual fervent vows that they alone would care for it, they got one. They named the hamster Danny. Two months later, when Mom found herself responsible for cleaning and feeding the creature, she located a prospective new home for Danny the hamster. When she told the children the news of Danny's imminent departure, they took the news quite well, which somewhat surprised her, though they did offer some comments. One of the children did remark, "He's been around here a long time – we will miss him."

Mom agreed saying, "Yes, but he's too much work for one person, and since I'm that one person, I say he goes." Another child offered, "Well, maybe if he wouldn't eat so much and wouldn't be so messy, we could keep him." But Mom was firm. "It's time to take Danny to his new home now," she insisted. "Go and get his cage."

With one voice and in tearful outrage the children shouted, "Danny? We thought you said, 'Daddy!'"

Have you ever assumed you knew what people were talking about and later realized you didn't have a clue?

Assumption is the lowest form of knowledge. It is not the things that we don't know, it's the things that we think we know that aren't true that get us into trouble.

As a college professor I taught a marriage and family class. A question on a quiz was: "________________ is the lowest form of knowledge." I wanted the students to answer "assumption." One football player filled in the blank, "My brain is the lowest form of knowledge." I had to give him credit.

Larry Michael tells of taking his five-year-old daughter to see the movie E.T. During the scene in which E.T. appears to die, Larry heard his daughter sniffling – like many in the theater – and he leaned over and asked, "Are you sad because E.T. died?" She replied, "No, my foot is caught in the seat." He made the assumption based on his feelings, not hers.

You have probably heard of the student pilot who was preparing for a lesson. As he waited on the runway, a man jumped in and said, "Take off over the south, come back over the mountains, and then go back to the south again." The student took off and the passenger began to take pictures. The student asked, "Do you always take pictures while giving flying lessons?" "Flying lessons? I'm the photographer for the newspaper." "You're not my flying instructor?" "No!" to which the student replied, "Then you probably don't know why these red lights are flashing."

I loved the old Pink Panther movies. It is like the Three Stooges with just one stooge. When the elevator door opens, Peter Sellers gets on with a man with a Doberman. He looks at the dog and asks the man if the Doberman bites, and the man replies, "No." About three floors later the dog bites Peter Sellers. He yells, "I thought you said your dog doesn't bite." He says, "It's not my dog." Assumption is like a flashing red light warning you that life is about to bite you.

A woman wanted to impress her friends by inviting them to dinner. She hired a maid, a butler, and a chef. She purchased the best cut of steak and the best mushrooms to accompany them. When the chef noticed that the mushrooms were a bit discolored, the lady suggested he feed them to the dog since the hour was late. "If the dog eats them and doesn't get sick, they are probably fine."

The dog eagerly consumed the mushrooms and showed no signs of ill effects, so the chef completed the meal and served it to the guests. Later, as the dessert was being served, the maid hurried in and whispered to the lady, "Ma'am, the dog is dead." Not waiting to hear any more, she leapt to her feet and told the guests that they had no time to lose! They had eaten tainted mushrooms and must rush to the hospital immediately! Later that evening, after she and her guests had returned from having their stomachs pumped, she asked the maid, "Where is the dog?" "Out in the front yard, Ma'am," replied the maid, "where he crawled after the car hit him."

Assumptions lead to incorrect conclusions which can result in harsh consequences. The old saying, "I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but you don't realize that what you heard is not what I meant," applies to most of our communication.

Now, for the practical application. This Valentine's Day ask your wife what her favorite food is. Then take her to the best restaurant which serves that food. "Ask and you shall receive." Assume that she wants to cook your favorite food at home and you might have to have your stomach pumped.

P.S. Her favorite flower is not Pillsbury All-Purpose.

    About the Author

  • Charles Lowery