Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Hot And Cold Of Misperception

It wasn't until the end of the day yesterday when I finally figured out the answer to a strange little mystery that had been nagging me.

I was curious as to why the faucets at the washroom I'd been using at U of Montreal were reversed, with cold (C) on the left  and hot (H) on the right. I knew it wasn't a Quebec thing, because the faucets in my hotel room, which were colour coded (blue for cold and red for hot) were as expected. Hot on the left and cold on the right.

Also, by habit, I used the tap on the left (hot), and never clued in that the water running from it (marked C) was warm.

When I quickly glanced at the faucet on the right, I had abruptly interpreted the scripted letter there as some sort of fancy and strange "H" - but in fact, only noticed yesterday that it was an F.

C and F?

Then it struck me.


C didn't stand for cold, it stood for the French word for hot, which is chaud. And that fancy script wasn't an "H", but an F, which meant froid.

It's funny how our mind makes quick and often incorrect assumptions that, although we are presented with concrete evidence that supports an alternative hypothesis (the water temperature, the F, the fact I was using a washroom in a predominantly French society), we ignore the facts and stick with that first assumption.

Sure, this is a simple thing regarding faucets in Quebec; but how many more other assumptions do we make each day which can have an adverse affect on the things we do and the people we communicate with?

I'm reminded of the importance to pause, step back, and take another look (attempt to take a fresh look) at something I thought I was looking at. And let the information presented to me try to get through rather than be filtered by the auto-editing that takes place in my perception.

A good thing to remember. A chaud little life lesson perhaps?

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