Listen and learn

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While stationed at Ft. Sill, Okla., in 1995, I moved out of the barracks and into a house with a buddy of mine. Bobby was of Mexican descent by way of San Antonio, Texas. One day, I helped him wash his low-rider truck. You should’ve seen his reaction when I asked him to hand me the “hosepipe.”

“A hose who?” he asked, as he burst into laughter.

I haven’t routinely called it a “hosepipe” since that day.

Several weeks ago, I had a lunch with a couple of friends from Cincinnati. They were driving to Florida to see their daughter who was stationed at Pensacola Naval Air Station. We met at a barbecue restaurant in Montgomery. When the waiter asked if we wanted a bowl of their famous Brunswick stew, my friends looked at him like he had a rib protruding from his ear. They’d never even heard of one of the more popular staples of Southern cuisine.

In both situations, I learned that no matter how common something may be to me, it may not even be on the other person’s radar. Bobby learned some good southern English, and my Cincinnati friends learned that they love Brunswick stew.

For what it’s worth, I’d rather drink water from a hosepipe than eat Brunswick stew, but that’s just me.

The other day, I was walking with my girlfriend and her dogs in Auburn. All the people we saw on bicycles were wearing helmets, so I told Lucy that I thought it was stupid. She looked at me funny while I tried to explain it the best I could using caveman logic.

The caveman logic continued as I ventured off into the absurdity of trampoline enclosures.

“I didn’t need any of that when I was a kid,” I said, “and look at me. I lived to tell about it.”

She simply asked, ‘Why not protect your kids when and where you can?”

She had a point. Why not protect your kids when and where you can? If a helmet will prevent one little boy from banging his head on a rock or if a trampoline enclosure will prevent one little girl from breaking her arm, then why not?

My thinking on these particular safety precautions has evolved, but I still think bicycle helmets look stupid.

Of course, I used to think seatbelts were stupid, too. These days, I don’t leave my driveway without buckling up. What used to seem stupid is now the norm.

A few weeks ago, I set off a respectful firestorm on Facebook when I said that I thought 25-year-olds were too old to be on their parent’s insurance plan. While some agreed, many did not. After reading the dissenting points of view, my own point of view began to change, and I now understand why some remain on their parent’s plan until the age of 26. Times have changed, and for many, it just makes sense.

Although it can sometimes be difficult, I try to keep an open mind in all that I do. Too many times, we shut out opposing points of view, and that gets us nowhere.

I know I’ve changed over the years, and I’m not afraid to admit it.

I used to not like asparagus, but now, I love asparagus.

I used to not like Chihuahuas, but now, I love Chihuahuas.

I used to not like the Alabama Crimson Tide. I still don’t like the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Some things never change; however, most things can, will, and should as we grow. Most of my friends act and think just like me. Naturally, we are drawn to people who resemble us inside and out, but I think it’s important to spend time with people from a wide range of backgrounds, because it allows us to learn new things and to see things from a different point of view.

I’m not afraid to listen, and I’m not afraid to learn. Sadly, some people are. Life would be really boring without change.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com.

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