A memorable illustration of how wrong view and wrong intention work together came to me earlier this week. I’m telling this story, even though it’s embarrassing, because it taught me a useful lesson.
It started with a credit card bill on which a mysterious line item appeared. It wasn’t clear what it was for, and I had no receipt to match with it. My mind leapt to the conclusion that it was probably one of those infernal camera-captured speeding tickets, which are pretty common in Brisbane. I made four frustrating phone calls before speaking with a human in the correct office. I was not polite (though I did not swear) and I was not satisfied at the end of the call.
My next move was to follow the instructions I’d received to lodge a complaint/challenge. During that process, I checked the date of the infringement (which I had gotten from the human on the phone), and suddenly all was clear and I was embarrassed. It wasn’t a speeding ticket at all, but a parking ticket, which I now remembered. I also realized (too late) that it showed up on my credit card bill because I had already paid it!
What do we do when we discover that we’ve made a wrong assumption and it has caused us to behave in a way we are ashamed of? We could bury it and forget it, but I chose to look at it to find the lesson in it. Mistake #1 was leaping to the conclusion that the unknown charge was for a speeding ticket. Mistake #2 was not questioning this assumption. This is a key point: I didn’t notice that I’d made an assumption with insufficient evidence. My mood was immediately up in the “annoyed” zone and I wasn’t thinking straight.
This is the nature of assumptions – we don’t know when we’re making them.
I wished then that I could phone back the helpful human and apologize, but it would have been impossible to find him. All I could do was to reflect on my behavior and confess it to a friend, with the intention to be more careful about leaping to conclusions in the future. When frustration rises, it’s a warning sign that a mistake may be right around the corner.
The wrong view was the assumption that I knew what something was when I didn’t. The wrong intention was taking it out on a human being, a paid flak-catcher. And now I’ve only confirmed his (probable) opinion that people who phone there are not nice, and possibly also stupid. Sigh. I intend to try to remember the conditions that caused the arising of this wrongly intended action, and attempt to stop their momentum in the future.