We usually see people and situations from the prism of our own notions, culture, expectations, experiences. But often they are simply not what they seem to us.
Today I would like to share a very simple story. A few years ago I was on a plane from Sofia to Frankfurt. Lost in thought, I didn’t really pay attention to anybody around me. However, I couldn’t help noticing that the man sitting next to me was tasting virtually all kinds of alcoholic beverages on board and was slowly getting drunk. My first thought and assumption was that he was perhaps flying for the first time and was so scared that he simply needed the drinks. My second assumption (based on the first one) was that his life might be very boring (after all, in my imagination he was flying for the first time and he was in his mid-thirties already). I couldn’t be more wrong. In our conversation I found out that he is… a pilot and air traffic controller in Kabul and was returning there after a short vacation. The few stories that he shared about his life in Kabul and the reality there left me speechless.
When we started approaching our destination, bad weather and air traffic issues prevented us from landing for some time. At a certain point, he stood up, went to the cockpit and provided some help to facilitate the landing. The person who I thought was flying for the first time suddenly helped land the plane safely!
I felt like an idiot with all my assumptions. And immediately threw them overboard… This story will always remind me that we should all do that more often.