Where Do You Get Oranges?

Fresh oranges for the win!

One of my early jobs in Arizona was as a cook/van driver at a daycare. I prepped meals and snacks for, on average, 150 people a day. Breakfast, lunch and 2 snacks a day. I was also responsible for transporting the school age children back and forth to their schools. At the time, I handled 5 elementary schools and one private preschool. My list of responsibilities also included making a monthly menu, ordering kitchen supplies, organizing deliveries and all the prep, cooking and clean up in the kitchen. Not included in my job description but, something that I handled every day was staff birthdays and shopping for the teachers supply list which often included a weekly run to an education supply store and a local grocery store. I was a busy woman! I enjoyed the job tremendously and if my health had remained prosperous, then I would have stayed at this job for a long time.

I received a produce order twice a week for all of my fresh produce, however, on occasion there would be problems with my produce order. One morning, when fresh orange slices where on the menu for snack, my produce order did not arrive on time. Rather than just grabbing some other item from the shelf, the daycare (and me) made every attempt to adhere to our posted monthly menu which meant, if  the menu included fresh oranges slice for morning snack, then I have to offer fresh oranges, not shelved crackers. This particular morning, our oranges had not arrived, so I headed to our local grocery store to buy enough oranges for 135 preschoolers.

I hustled into the grocery store, grabbed a grocery cart and went straight to the produce section. I loaded 9 or 10, 5-lb bags of navel oranges into my cart. I stopped for a moment to see what else I needed to purchase when an elderly woman approached me. Arriving at my side, she looked at my 50 pounds of oranges, looked up at me and said, “Good Lord, woman! Don’t you know anybody with an orange tree!”

I laughed and said “What?”. Very quickly all the pieces started rolling together in my mind. In Arizona, citrus fruit trees are in abundance. The ability to enjoy fresh from the tree oranges is often, as far away as your closest neighbor. I am certain that to this lovely, elderly woman, it would have been far more economical to befriend someone who owned an orange tree. Having put it all together, I chuckled and said, “No, you don’t understand. I work for a daycare…”

She shrugged her shoulders mid-sentenced and walked away leaving me laughing in the produce section.

It’s been almost 20 years since this happened. To this day, whenever I eat oranges, I think of this hilarious encounter. Today, I am thinking about it a little differently. The elderly woman was trying to help me save some money with her suggestion. I tried to explain that I was purchasing oranges for a licensed childcare provider and I was only able to purchase items from certified vendors. She refused to hear my explanation and walked away thinking something entirely different about me and the situation.

It got me thinking. Have you ever been doing something or planning something and an outsider comes along and passes judgement on you without knowing all the reasons why you are doing whatever you’re doing? Has there ever been a time in your life when others looked at you and your actions with incorrect ideas simply because they did not take the time to find out what your goals or obstacles were? Have you ever done this to someone else?

Of course we have. Both scenarios have occurred because we often judge without knowing all the details of the circumstances. In our, incomplete, judgement we often think we are right and the other person is wrong. We tell others what to do before we know all the information or feelings or goals involved in a situation. We know better than they do. We know more than they do. We simply surmise, we are right, they are wrong. We are all guilty, at one point in our lives, of telling other people where to get their oranges.

We have to learn to really listen to each other needs or desires and then offer advice or wisdom once we know all the facts. And I mean ALL the facts. Because, I’d bet you a bag of oranges, we rarely know every reason behind someone’s actions but it is much easier to judge that they don’t have a clue about orange trees than to wait and learn what they are dealing with in life.

Take time to listen, really listen to others. Take time to build trust in relationships so that others truly confided in you. Take to time to understand other people lives or goals that are often very different than your own. Take time to practice patience.

Be brave.
Jamie Christine

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