It was a seemingly dull morning in the month of June with dark clouds dominating the sky. There was an unusual chill in the air and a slight but stubborn drizzle that threatened to turn into rain anytime. There was a general sense of urgency in every stride on the road as people tried to scurry along to reach their destinations (it was office time anyway!). Still a couple of streets away from office, fighting with thoughts of the umbrella-lazily-left-behind – ‘I should’ve taken that short blue one at least’ – I tried to accelerate my pace as well.
Just to make it a bit more quicker than usual, I decided to take a short cut, a path that goes from the front of a small factory leading up to the back door of the office entrance. As I took the turn to the street where this factory was located, I could see dense white fumes engulfing the front side of the factory and completely blocking out the road. And the fumes were coming out in quick bursts as if (something was seriously wrong!) they were not going to stop anytime soon (sign of an ongoing situation!).
‘Why hasn’t anyone made the call to emergency services…’, I thought as I paced up faster towards the main gate, ‘…or may be they did…in any case shouldn’t you be walking in the opposite direction, why are you getting close!’, protested my mind still unable to believe the shocking sight and the counter intuitive reaction. But hang on a bit! there were others moving along the street without the slightest concern on their face, although it didn’t slow their pace (but of course all of us were in a hurry anyway to escape the impending downpour). This definitely didn’t feel right. I could not be the only person on the road concerned about the situation, ‘oh! where is this emotionless world headed, with such apathy!’. I marched on anxiously nevertheless, closer to the gate to check if I could find a soul within the factory premises and see if I should really press the panic button (and oh by the way the fumes didn’t suffocate and didn’t discourage me from going forward!).
As I inched closer, the board hanging on the gate caught my attention (as shown in the picture below).
Phew! What a relief it was and what intense moments before the fact hidden behind the mist came to the fore. I was really glad that nothing was wrong and I did a little bit to get closer to the situation to figure out, instead of hitting the panic button. Never before have I dialed the emergency services and this would have made me look utterly stupid.
My mind instantly threw out a silliness alert – ‘your clouded eminence! the mist is not around, but within thy head aided by a heavy dose of prejudice’. But ‘hey!’, I retaliated, ‘it was thick, it was misty, it was dense and it was fuming, all signs of a hazard eh?…”. Nope, ‘…apparently not!’
It does help to carry these “not hazardous, all ok, don’t worry!” signs in our day to day communication too and state an insight/context before someone hits the panic button based on a cold not-so-obvious fact. In direct communication a reassuring body language and confident articulation helps to clear the panic off the dense mist!
If you are on the receiving end of the not-so-good-looking-fact/update, it might not be unwise to get closer, ask more questions, and understand the reality before hitting the panic button and escalating it further.
Although a trifling experience (or so it seems post facto!), it is a fun reminder to be on the look out for mist-approaching (within ones head or from outside for good or bad reasons) and start clearing it away by being patient, proactive, contextual and sensible. Most times it may be by design and not hazardous 🙂