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  • Writer's pictureRicki Braswell

I Can't Hear

And I Can't Hear

Yesterday, I took a package to the UPS store to be mailed to my sister. After weighing my package and asking me when I’d like it to be delivered, the young woman behind the counter smiled and asked, “Do you have an AARP card?”

Time slowed, the Earth tilted and I was taken aback. Michael is a member of AARP and got me a card with my name on it. He’s sweet like that. But I'm not a member of AARP!

"Um, yes," I said slowly, "Yes. Yes I do have AARP card. Actually, my husband has a membership, but there is a card with my name on it. I don't have it with me. I mean, I don't actually carry it around, you know?" Suddenly my words picked up speed as I continued, "It’s just that, you’re the first person to ask me that. I mean, I'm only 51. I don't even know if I technically qualify for membership with them? Don't they have a minimum age requirement? And aren't you supposed to be retired? Hello, it's in their name, you would think it would be a criteria!"

At this point she attempted to interrupt me. She said, “I’m sorry, I …“, but I cut her off. “No, no please don’t apologize," I said, "it’s not your fault. It's just that I’ve just always had this image of myself in my head and I guess at this point in my life it’s not matching up to what other people see."

Once again, she attempted to interrupt, “I’m sorry, I wasn't trying to…“, and once again I cut her off. “Really, please, you don’t have to apologize. It happens to all of us at some point I guess. I’m OK with it. Really I am." I said, my voice not very convincing, even to my own ears. I gave her a wan smile that I hoped conveyed more peace than I felt.

She looked at me. I looked at her. Then she said, “Um ma'am, I didn’t ask you for an AARP card. I asked if you had a Triple A card. You see, we give a discount for AAA members. If you have one of those you can save $.70 today.” Then she smiled brightly.

As I walked back to my car, purse tucked under my arm, dignity left behind at the counter in the store, I reflected on what just happened.

What is in the space between what she said and what I heard?

I think it's obvious that I was feeling a little 'less than' yesterday. Also, I'm a tad bit dyslexic. O.k., fine, I realize that she spoke the words to me, I didn't have to read them, but I'm grasping at straws here.

Without me realizing it, my mind was somewhere other than on our conversation and what I heard was part of where my mind was. Hmmm, I wonder how often that happens?

Is there always a gap between hearing and listening?

How often do we hear something because we are listening to our inner voice rather than the other person?

I don't have any good answers, but these questions, and this experience, has spurred a new level of awareness for me. Thanks you, Taylor, at the UPS store in Bannerman Crossing, for asking the question that I didn't hear. For staying in the conversation even as I took it to someplace entirely different. And for trying to save me seventy cents.

Sip & Strategize

As a strategy and leadership coach I work with amazing people. One of the things that has been reinforced to me during the process is that everyone, even those who are already successful, has to stretch and strategize to get to the next level.

Wondering what the next level looks like for you? Get yourself a cold cup a something and schedule a virtual coffee and let's chat.

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