There’s a story that I’ve heard several times in several different versions. The basic story goes something like this. A man is running late, but he’s stuck behind some woman who’s going just under the speed limit. They’re in town in a place where he can’t pass, so he’s stuck and getting madder by the minute. The woman keeps looking in her backseat, reaching back to mess with something. As they are stopped by a stoplight, she jumps out and opens her back door. He’s fuming. He gets out of his car and approaches to chew her out when he realizes she’s fiddling with a car seat. Her baby is choking. As he helps her save the baby his anger dissipates. Suddenly she goes from an annoyance to a damsel in distress.
There are times when I see someone doing something and think, “Why would anyone . . .” I’ve learned to change that question to, “Why would someone . . .”
Why would someone speed through traffic, driving erratically? They could be on the way to the hospital after receiving a call about an injured loved one. They could be headed to gather with family and/or friends after hearing about a death. .
Why would a young woman dress inappropriately to be seen in public? Maybe she doesn’t know any better. Maybe she’s got such low self-esteem that the attention she gets makes her feel good about herself for just a few minutes.
There are all kinds of reasons that people might do things that seem completely crazy to someone outside their situation. So, the next time you’re tempted to decide that someone’s acting foolish, stop and ask yourself if there might be a legitimate reason for their behavior. If so, give them a break.