Pet Peeve: Assumptions

I really can't handle it when people assume you're an idiot just because you don't know the exact same stuff they do.

When it comes down to it, everyone started as a newbie. More importantly: nothing is ever obvious.
  • At some point, you didn't know fuse boxes even existed.
  • There was a day when you didn't know the difference between it's and its. They're, there and their. Not to mention serial commas.*
  • Once upon a time, you didn't know the cake was a lie (and I won't judge you for running to Google if you still don't).
We all started out as screaming, needy little pooping machines, so please wait a second before harassing newbies**. Cut them (us) some slack. Please.

You're probably not wondering why I even brought this up. Which is okay, but I'm gonna share anyway. I've had more than my fair share of moments where my actions/statements were met with judgmental glares.


The summer after I turned fifteen, I took driver's ed. License in hand, I hopped into my silver 1984 Chrysler LeBaron (Matilda, may you rest in peace) and lovingly proceeded to try out all the buttons and switches and doodads and thingamawhatsies.

One button's purpose eluded me. I tried it once. Looked around. Got out of the car, inspected all the lights. Turned off the engine. Tried it again.

Lots of effort, no result. I gave up.

Eventually winter came and I had forgotten all about the mystery button. My friends and I piled into the car to go rent some videos and I discovered that fog was blocking my rearview.

"Dammit," I said. "I can't see anything. I wish there were something that could get rid of the condensation in my back window."

The car went silent. After a few moments, my friends began to laugh. And laugh. And laugh.

Embarrassment and confusion flushed my cheeks red.

"... seriously?" one friend prodded. The others chuckled.

"What?!" I asked, exasperated. I wanted the moment to be over.

"Oh come on...really?" the friend pressed again.


She explained the concept of rear window defrosters to me and pointed toward Matilda's mystery button.

"That's what those lines on your back window are for."

More laughter. My heart sank.

I felt more than a little stupid, and even a touch betrayed. My friends were laughing *at* me. Not because I cracked a joke or tripped over a trash can, but because I didn't know something they felt was obvious.

Many, many similar moments instilled in me a fear of asking questions. Eleven years later, and I'm only just getting over it.

*There's even a serial comma debate. Formal writing prefers one, two, and three. Journalists prefer one, two and three. As much as people may argue about it, there's no hard and fast rule, it's just a matter of druthers.

**Feel free to harass people who really should know better.

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