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african ah-hah #2

September 2nd, 2010 by

Another African ah-hah moment occured our last day in Rwanda.  One of our Ugandan drivers came to my lodge room to collect my duffle bag.  As he turned to walk out of the room with it, he saw a stack of clothes and some sneakers.  What about those? I told him I was leaving them for the woman who made up my room, figuring she would know who could use them.  Please, he begged.  Let me have them.

It was the look on his face I will never forget.  There was a vivid desperation that I had not realized he experienced, too.  Given his job, I’d assumed he was in one of the more enviable positions.  Even so, it was clear the money he made was not enough.  Even now, recalling that moment, fills my heart with all kinds of emotion.  Of course, I told him.  Please take them.

I’ve been teaching Gates that when we “assume” we make an “ass” out of “u” and “me”.  Clearly it’s a lesson I’m still learning.  It may be worth taking a minute and asking yourself: Who in your “circle”  might you be making an assumption about?  Do your friends know how much you love them?    Is the checkout girl at the market having a good day just because you are?  Think that guy who cut you off in traffic did so simply because he’s an idiot?

You could be right, but it’s a pretty big assumption, isn’t it?

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