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Intent matters (be careful out there)

by | Nov 26, 2020 | Life Lessons & Leadership | 0 comments

Fault vs Responsibility Shawn Trautman Lessons in Leadership
Rarely do I have an empty back seat. I carry a lot of people and drive a LOT.

Yesterday, I made a quick trip, alone, to the nearest gas station and I had my windows down.

It’s a small 4 pump BP station and I just wanted to fill up a 5-gallon gas can that I had with me.

The gas can was empty (and I was lazy) so I put it in the backseat rather than the very back.

As I pull into the station there’s another black SUV pulled off to the side and no other cars at the pump.

I put the car in park and decided to roll the front windows up just over 1/2 way so no one could easily reach in and snag my phone or wallet on the center console (I take my card out and leave the wallet inside).

I roll the front windows up (well, I held the button) and then get out & went to get the can.

I get out the normal way, turn left and open the back door of the driver’s side, not thinking about anything, at all.

As I open the door, I see a somewhat strung out looking guy, probably in his late 30’s, holding a bag plopping down into the empty seat across from me.

“Hey, hey, hey, what are you doing?” I quickly and not-so-eloquently blurted out in a slightly raised tone.

I didn’t see him anywhere near me.

I didn’t see him come out of the station.

I didn’t see him walking towards my car.

Nothing. I was just completely caught off guard as I was, uncharacteristically, not paying attention (those who spend any time around me know this is a rarity).

“Oh, Shit! I’m sorry! Wrong car!” he says as he quickly fumbles and stumbles out of the seat.

For about 3 seconds I just watched as he quickly made his way towards the other car. He apologized profusely and I merely laughed to myself.

“I’ve done the same thing, man… I get it.” I said to him.

He went and sat in the backseat of a very similar vehicle and just kept laughing and shaking his head while looking down.

I continued watching on and off for a good minute afterwards and I confirmed that this was truly an accident.

Now, although this was an accident, it goes to show how quickly things can and do happen.

Had I not opened the backseat I probably wouldn’t have even known he was there until I got in to leave.

I know better than to put myself in a position where I left myself vulnerable, and I’m lucky it turned out like it did.

Some quick thoughts as they relate:

* Always lock your doors as soon as you get out, especially if you’re alone.

* Be aware of your surroundings at all times.

* Don’t just go about your business without connecting dots as you go.

* Don’t put gas cans in the back seat.

Importantly, I didn’t feel threatened, whatsoever, just confused. Had I felt threatened, I wonder how this would have ended? Would I have reacted differently? Absolutely. Could it have affected both our lives? Without a doubt.

Intent matters.

Reading intent also matters.

And I’ll end with my own version of quote from Gandalf that I use often:

“Do not be so quick to judge. For even the wisest among us cannot see things from all angles.”


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