Passing by the Hotel Vancouver last weekend, I noticed a tall, twenty-something man dressed casually in dark grey pants and a white dress shirt, collar open at the neck. He was leaning against a stylish black 4-door car. A police car was parked directly behind the car, and as the bus moved down the road, it appeared as though the officer was waiting with the young man.
I saw a tableau and in the few seconds it took for the bus to pass by, I made several assumptions:
- man was a driver or a chauffeur
- sleek, black vehicle was a touring car or small limo
- driver/chauffeur waited for an important person
- police officer was waiting with the driver/chauffeur
- officer was providing a police escort
A woman had just got on the bus with her husband at the stop directly across from the hotel. When she sat down beside me, I remarked, “I wonder who the important person is who needs a police escort?”
She laughed and then replied. “He was stopped for speeding and pulled into the hotel’s entrance to get him out of the way of traffic. He looked like an average guy with an average girl on an average date.”
I don’t know if I make more assumptions than anyone else. I do know that in the past, as a reporter for a community newspaper chain, I made assumptions where the connective tissue of thought was so tenuous it made sense to only me. Not only did the assumption turn out to be correct, but it paid off in being a story printed on an odd-numbered page, or even appearing on page one. As a creative writer, the process is similar – I observe a situation, make assumptions about what I have observed and then write about it. Of course, in fiction the spirit of truth matters more than truth.
I just found the experience interesting: from making several assumptions I drew a conclusion, which I then regarded as fact. In the case of the tableau of the man leaning against a sleek, black car, I was wrong. Good thing I wasn’t filing copy for a newspaper.