George and Mary-Lynn

Happy Scum

By Dana Mancuso
Bigg Success Contributor
08-07-08

Life Skills

pm411_logo Have you ever had a disagreement about something you've heard? I often disagree with my husband about popular song lyrics. What he hears is close to the real words in most cases, but not always.

Sometimes what you hear is a direct result of what you've already heard. Sort of like expecting to get an apple from an apple tree. You've always gotten apples from the apple tree, so you aren't going to expect an orange to be growing there. You won't hear country music from the lips of rocker Bon Jovi. Or will you?

Back in high school, I was seated in a small group next to someone from my grade school. This boy had teased me in 5th and 6th grade. In fact, he had never spoken to me in any other manner than to tease me in my entire life.

So, when he spoke to me, not only was I surprised, but my brain turned on the teasing filter. Here's what I heard when he tapped my arm:

"Happy, Scum?"

What?

"Happy, Scum?"

Oh my god, he's calling me scum!

The sentence was repeated once more before I heard what he actually said, "can I HAVE a PIECE of GUM?"

My brain had already determined that anything coming from this guy's mouth was going to be negative at best, hurtful at worst–when all he wanted was some Dentyne. (I handed him the skuzziest looking piece of gum in the pack.)

I at least make an effort not to jump to conclusions. But my brain often does it for me before I can stop it. Sometimes I do it when reading an e-mail from a coworker. (She forgot a word in the sentence, accidentally changing its meaning.) Sometimes I do it when I get an odd look from someone (He doesn't have his contacts in so he is squinting a lot.) Everyone has heard the look before you leap cliché, but it applies so well to hearing in haste, as well as to acting in haste.

Next time you're about to turn on that filter, grab a piece of gum and chew it over a bit. 

Hear today’s lesson and laugh on The Bigg Success Show.

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