I walked in to get my pool pass last week, which is a sign that summer is here for me. Swimming laps outdoors is one of my favorite things do.
A few days later, I returned and was greeted by a Chicago Park District employee asking for a pass. I explained that when I came in the first time, the passes were not ready, and I only received a receipt.
He said, “Right, let’s get you the pass.”
As he wrote down my name on the pass, I said, “I didn’t give you my name.”
He replied, “I know.”
For several years, I spearheaded a campaign to make the pool more accessible to families and seniors, extend hours, and raise funds to replace worn out lawn chairs. This campaign took years and was filled with many sleepless nights, frustration and anger. It made no sense to me that such simple requests and advocacy on the part of tax payers took so much effort. During this process, I didn’t make friends. In fact, the ruckus that I caused made people dislike and tolerate me, at best. It was the price I paid for trying to do good and make a change for our community. It has been a few years now, and all is well at Kennedy Park Pool.
In years past, the seasonal employees were warned about me. They were told that I was causing commotion while researching the pool and advocating for changes in the community. I felt like I was wearing a scarlet letter. As years passed, nothing more had happened, so why now would anyone be advised about who I was? Why would he know my name?
I was fuming. I walked away and went swimming with my daughter. I threw the ball back and forth with her all while going over in my mind the litany of things I wanted to say and do. I was so frustrated that this pool issue would never die.
As I was leaving, I saw him, and, before I could stop myself, I asked, “How did you know my name?”
He said, “I remembered your name from when you came to register. I make it a point to learn people’s names. I am new to this park, and I am just trying to get to know everyone.”
The stories that we tell ourselves are based on past experiences and the lens that we see life through. When we don’t stop to get the facts and check the validity our story, we can often misinterpret a situation or someone’s intentions causing much of our own angst and suffering.
As my dear friend often says to me, “Carly, get the facts and check the story.”