I used to read Scott Adams’ comic strip “Dilbert.” I also read his books. In one of them he wrote about people he called “obliviots.” The word is a portmanteau of “oblivious” and “idiot.” It is a way of describing someone who is oblivious to the fact that they are being inconsiderate of the people around them. One example is someone who blocks the entire shopping aisle with their cart so nobody can get by.
Here’s an example from yesterday. At my local grocery store there are six “Express self-checkout” stations. These are stations for you to purchase less than 12 items. And then there are four or five self-checkout stations with a conveyor belt so that people can self-checkout a cart full of stuff. I pushed my cart (with more than 12 items) to the checkout, and saw two things: 1. All six express checkouts were open and available. 2. All but one of the non-express lanes were being used.
I pushed my cart towards the empty non-express lane, when a guy with three kids (looked to be between ages 9 and 14) jumped in ahead of me. He had no cart. As I watched, he allowed each of his kids to swipe their item (each item was smaller than a deck of cards…I couldn’t tell what they were). Then he messed around with his payment method and finally left. Was it a huge inconvenience for me? Not really. But it was a point in my day that perhaps God had put there to remind me to be patient with people. I’m sure if I had a time machine and could go back to just before the process and freeze time, I could ask the guy, “Ok sir, you have two options here: you could use any one of six express checkouts to pay for your 3-4 items, or you could utilize the non-express checkout, thereby making other people with more than 12 items wait for five minutes longer while you pay for your kids’ items. What do you think?” I’m sure he would say, “Well, the obvious choice is to use one of the express lanes.”
But I don’t have a time machine. And this guy learned nothing. But I got to practice patience and understanding. You see, we all have the potential to be obliviots. Sometimes we just don’t think. Sometimes we say or do things without thinking through the effect that we will have on others. I know I have the potential to open my mouth and put my foot in many times a day. And so I’m taking this as a reminder to be considerate to others, to be loving, and to be understanding that we all make mistakes, because we’re human.
Three words: Iowa State Fair