The Other Story (part I)

Memorial Day. Blue skies. Fluffy clouds. Mild breezes. Mid temperatures.

Needless to say, there was a line.

A line at the municipal boat launch. So we waited. And waited. Some of us more patiently than others. Lauren stood stoically drinking his coffee, Eleanor kept her book company, and Cole and I perched up in the bow of the boat, anxious to be there, even with asphalt below us instead of waves.

And just as it was our turn? A truck with an empty trailer came racing around the corner, cut us off, and backed in. Without saying a word, or sparing us a glance.

All four of our jaws dropped. Really? Really?!?

Cole started muttering under his breath, volume rising as the sentence progressed “There is clearly a line, buddy. No matter if you are dropping your boat off or picking it up…how rude. What a jerk!” (followed by some other teenage word choices)

Was the guy rude? Yes. Was he a jerk? Also yes. Annnnnndddd…

And, I reminded Cole, we don’t always know someone’s story. That guy might have had a reason for doing that. Actually, I’m sure he had a reason. The question was, was it a reason we could understand? I got a well-practiced 15 year-old eye roll.

“I guess I need to work on being classy, Mom. Because if I were Dad, I would have gunned the engine and cut the guy off before he got anywhere close to the ramp.”

We could have done that, I told him. Or, instead, we could be curious. And wonder about the man’s story. So Cole and I tossed possibilities back and forth while we waited. And waited. Because what we couldn’t see from our spot in the circular drive was why he had raced in and cut us off.

His boat had been sinking.

They had launched a few spots ahead of us, left the boat tied to the dock, driven away and parked in the far-off trailer spots, and returned to find their Chris Craft taking on water. At an extremely alarming rate.

None of which we knew until they pulled past us once more, water gushing from the boat. Gushing.

They’d forgotten to put in the plug. A part whose importance far outstrips its size. The boat had been steadily sinking from the moment it hit the water. Without the plug in place, the hull floods, and so, potentially, does the engine.

No wonder.

No wonder he had gone barreling past us without a word or a wave or an explanation.

Because stress narrows our vision. It blinds our view. He couldn’t see us. All he could see was his little ship sinking.

From our side of the story, the guy had looked like a jerk. The other story? He was a good guy having a terrible moment.

When our turn finally arrived, we quietly backed into the Sound, distractedly glancing over our shoulders as their boat drained. And drained. And drained.

It was a close thing. They almost sank. And we almost labeled them as assholes (pardon the teenage word) instead of people having an emergency.

We rarely get that view—the chance to see the other side of the story.

We all have a story. A reason for what we do. It’s true for our children, too. A preschooler who is melting down, a 10 year-old throwing a tantrum, or more choice words from a teen. There is always another story. One that includes the reason why.

We might find out. Our child might explain their freak out. Then again, they might not. Either way, if we can stay open, out of their way, observe what’s going on, we might just see the evidence of their sinking ship.

The other story.

The other story gives us the broader view, the inner feelings. The other story takes us out of our story to the more. See more. Hear more. Understand more.

Then respond.

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When has knowing the other story changed how you reacted to a situation? We all have a story about The Other Story, and I’d love to hear yours.

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