What Do You Expect To See?

789. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

My weekly theme of assumptions continued in a surprising way, today. Twice in the last hour someone mistook me for someone else. My reality is generally altered (so I’m told) but when experiences begin to cluster this way I slow down and pay attention. Why today am I looking like other people?

I stopped at a table outside the local Starbucks to adjust my backpack and an elderly man in suit and tie approached, offered his hand and said, “Richard, it’s good to see you again.” Shaking his hand, I replied, “It’s good to see you, too and I’m not Richard.” A look of horror overtook his face so I added, “I promise not to tell Richard.” The man laughed.

Fifteen minutes later as I was sitting in the lobby of the Surf Incubator (for entrepreneurs, not chickens), another man offered me his hand and said, “Christopher!” This time I didn’t take his hand. I looked at him and then at his hand and said, “No.” A look of confusion descended on his face. He thought I was teasing him so he waved his hand at me and said, “Come on!” I thought about pretending that I was Christopher pretending to be David denying that I was Christopher but thought better of it. I’m confused enough as it is. Besides, Christopher was bound to be just around the corner and I didn’t want to be expelled from the incubator before my time.

I look a little like Christopher and Richard. What might account for that? Last week I cut my hair. I changed from shaggy dog to urban generic. I’m assuming that the men who approached me are far sighted so their picture of me was fuzzy. As a blur I look like a significant portion of men in the city. As a blur I could get away with all kinds of mischief!

My back up theory involves sunshine. The sun finally came out in Seattle and people are in a state of euphoria. Hope is running high. Through euphoric eyes everyone looks friendly and known. I might not have any significant physical resemblance to Christopher or Richard but sun euphoria made it so.

Many years ago, just after I moved to Seattle, I was constantly being mistaken for The Flower Guy. A friendly flower deliveryman was my identical twin. I never met my twin but people swore that we were interchangeable. Once someone thought I was ashamed to admit that I was the flower delivery guy. His name was David, too, so the confusion was double-the-fun. At the time I was working at a theatre company and a patron, after I denied being The Flower Guy, pulled me aside and apologized for exposing my other job. No amount of protesting would convince the patron that I wasn’t The Flower Guy moonlighting as the theatre guy.

We see what we expect to see. We see what we believe. One man expected to see Richard and I fit his assumption set. Another man expected to meet Christopher and I sat in the right seat. I ask myself when I step into my day, “What do I expect to see?”

2 Responses

  1. So mistaken identity can happen anywhere, including through the mail. Quick story–my husband received a letter from a college near our home that stated “you are academically ineligiable for the sports season”. We started giggling because he has never even attended this college let alone played sports for them.

    We then started talking, what are the chances that two guys with the exact same names could be living in the exact same town? A million to one, a billion to one?

    We expect to be ourselves but the universe sometimes has other plans for us.

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