fraught with assumptions

The other day, when I caught the bus, I noticed that the bus driver was probably a bit older than the average driver. I had noticed this as I got on the bus (because I always greet the driver as a common courtesy), and I thought to myself that he must have been driving buses for years – or decades.

As the bus pulled away from the stop, I asked myself, given the apparent age of the driver, whether I trust his experience, or whether I should be worried because of his years. I realised, of course, that both options were fraught with assumptions. 

(And then I proceeded to think about the word “fraught” for a few minutes, pondering what the present tense would be, assuming that it was like caught is to catch. But “fratch” does not sound like a nice word at all. Otherwise, it could be like taught is to teach, but “freach” doesn’t sound any better. Google tells me that “fraught” originated from the Dutch word “vratch”, which means “ship’s cargo”. Fascinating. It can’t be used as a verb anyway, so all that pondering was pointless amusement.)

When I was an intern pharmacist, one of the lessons my preceptor taught me was to never make assumptions. She told me that assumptions make an ass out of u and me. This has stuck so well, that whenever I even hear the word “assume” or its derivatives, I think of this saying. (Side note: she was possibly the best preceptor I could have had, and even now, several years after my internship, I’m still guided through tricky situations by asking myself “What would KA do?”)

And so, before making assumptions, before judging, and before formulating opinions, I decided I’d just observe and draw conclusions that way.

There was nothing really unusual or different in how he drove, except that he was quite a bit slower, perhaps, than the average bus driver. But this brings on new questions: Does he drive more slowly because he’s compensating for a slower reaction time, or because he is concerned about safety and/or ensuring a comfortable ride? Did he always drive this slowly, or only as he got older? Is he actually old, or just looks like he is because he’s been driving buses for so long? Maybe he hasn’t been driving buses for very long at all??

And then I wondered about how all this carried over to other professions. Would I be more inclined to trust a pharmacist (or doctor/nurse/teacher/etc for that matter) who is really young or really old? I suppose that, in my experience, there isn’t much disparity across generations, anyway – at least, none that I can call to mind presently.

By the time I’d gotten off the bus, I hadn’t really reached any conclusion to speak of, and soon forgot about the whole thing until I wondered if I could make a blog post out of it. (At least I answered that question.) Well, in the end, I got to my destination safely without incident. And all’s well that ends well, right?

4 thoughts on “fraught with assumptions

  1. It was the way you held my eye that put me on my guard. The whole journey i could see you judging me. I thought it best to drive conservatively and play to your pre-conceived notions of my abilities. The elderly learn to not surprise the young lest our competency be brought into question.

    We will likely meet again, but I will be older still and perhaps then I shall be even more on my guard, or perhaps you shall be old too and we will sharing a knowing glance rather than silent judgment.

    • I hope I haven’t offended you; I had not intended to judge. I was merely making observations and contemplating different perceptions (good and bad) pertaining to age.
      When next we meet, I’ll be sure to share a knowing glance and a smile

  2. I am using assumption and preconceived notions in reverse: when I see someone who seems too young to me, I catch myself questioning their abilities. What an a*hole! I remind myself. Every age comes with a different set of strengths. I assume.

    • Oh don’t worry, I sometimes have the same preconceptions about “young” people too. I mean, experience counts for a lot …but then it also depends on how the person takes the experience…

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