This week I am sharing one of my favorite short poems – one that highlights the assumptions we make in our lives. Before I go into a real life palm-to-forehead moment I have experienced, I ask you read this fun prose from Valerie Cox:
The Cookie Thief
A woman was waiting at an airport one night
With several long hours before her flight
She hunted for a book in the airport shop
Bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop
She was engrossed in her book but happened to see
That the man beside her as bold as could be
Grabbed a cookie or two from the bag between
Which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene
She munched cookies and watched the clock
As this gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock
She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by
Thinking “If I wasn’t so nice I’d blacken his eye”
With each cookie she took he took one too
And when only one was left she wondered what he’d do
With a smile on his face and a nervous laugh
He took the last cookie and broke it in half
He offered her half as he ate the other
She snatched it from him and thought “Oh brother
This guy has some nerve and he’s also rude
Why he didn’t even show any gratitude”
She had never known when she had been so galled
And sighed with relief when her flight was called
She gathered her belongings and headed for the gate
Refusing to look back at the thieving ingrate
She boarded the plane and sank in her seat
Then sought her book which was almost complete
As she reached in her baggage she gasped with surprise
There was her bag of cookies in front of her eyes
“If mine are here” she moaned with despair
“Then the others were his and he tried to share”
“Too late to apologize she realized with grief”
That she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief.
A couple of years ago I was trying to get in touch with a friend I will call Lucy. I had helped Lucy a great deal over the years – largely with job-hunting and interview training. I needed a small favor from her, an introduction to someone she knew well, but she gave me the silent treatment. Radio silent. Non-responsive. I tried a few times and was astounded at her rudeness. You should have seen me after I got her voicemail the third or fourth time. “Last time I help Lucy!” I said to myself, shocked at how ungrateful she was. It was a short-lived but awful time in my mind.
Early one morning a few days later I had a phone call from an unknown number. It was Lucy. She was in New Zealand (her native country) – her sister was in hospital and it was serious. She apologized for her silence. You can imagine how I felt!
Think, when someone has wronged you – could this not be about you (or your cookies), at all? Have you ever realized after a life event when you thought you were a victim of something, how supremely wrong you have been? Could we all be a little more mindful and less certain of the negative intentions of other people? Could we perhaps adopt an attitude more like the fellow whose cookies were being taken?
There can be dramatic life situations like my story but plenty of smaller examples too – like the frequent occasions I lose my keys and curse my husband for taking them (and then find them in my purse). This is certainly worth a Sunday’s minute of reflection over your coffee. And if you happen to have a cookie with yours, perhaps you could share it.