500 Words on the Line in the Ladies’ Room, Crepes, and Orchids

Last week there were about eight women waiting in the ladies’ room line for three stalls. It was a quiet line, and most people were on their phones. At some point, one woman piped up to everyone, “Excuse me, are all of the stalls occupied?” It might seem like a silly question, but we’ve all been there. So many times we stand in the line, assuming we need to, but later realize we’re wrong. A woman at the front of the line confirmed, “Yes. They’re all full, ” she said confidently. As I watched the line progress, I noticed that women were only entering two stalls. I reasoned that the third was either occupied by someone taking a super long time (hey, no judgment here!) or it was actually empty, and the person who said it was full just assumed it was and didn’t actually know that. I took the risk and leaned down to see if I could see feet in stall number one. No feet. I walked right in.

What assumptions do we hold without challenging or questioning? One that stands out to me is the belief that crepes are high-maintenance and hard to make. Ditto orchids. In my experience, both are dead simple. 

Let’s start with crepes. For years, I never tried to make them because of all of the mystery and lore surrounding them. You need a special pan, a blender, and probably some level of French language proficiency, I assumed. False, false, and false. (Although, I’m sure French language proficiency helps with all things.) Since I learned the secret of crepes (namely that there is no secret) I’ve spent many Sunday nights turning out crepes for happy kids who love them with powdered sugar and lemon juice. So glad someone challenged my assumption that they were hard. 

It was similar with the orchid. A few weeks ago a friend gave me one. “Gah! I’ll kill it!” I exclaimed when I took it out of the bag. (Note to self: “Thank you so much,” would have been a better response.) 

“They’re not actually that hard to take care of,” she said. A third friend confirmed, 
“The key is to not give them too much water.” 

Can confirm. The one time my orchid looked a little sad and shriveled was the day after I gave it (too much) water. The orchid on my desk brings me unreasonable amounts of joy. It’s one of the best presents anyone has ever given me because it was the gift of surprise and a challenged assumption. 

What ties crepes and orchids together in my mind is that they are both misunderstood. They both have a reputation for being fussy and high maintenance when they’re actually incredibly straightforward and resilient. Lesson learned. 

I guess all I want to say is this: if you don’t challenge assumptions, you’ll find yourself waiting too much time for the bathroom, only eating crepes at restaurants, and leaving the orchids at the store. Life’s too short. 

#WritersWrite and I write almost every day. I sometimes share my thoughts publicly in this series called “500 Words or Less” This practice allows me to explore a variety of different topics in a restrained/contained way and learn what resonates with people. I wrote it, not AI. If you share, please give proper credit. © Traci Smith, 2023. All Rights Reserved.

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