20 January 2008

Perception vs. Reality

The forecast this weekend was for between 1 and 3 inches of snow to fall in the Charlotte area, a total nearly triple what was recorded just days earlier. The snow plows were warmed up, every grocery store had been raided for bread and milk, and the city was ready for a long winter's nap. So what did Mandi and I decide to do? Drive to the mountains, of course, where it was sure to be colder and the accumulation would be nearly double. We'd been planning this trip to Asheville and Chimney Rock State Park for a few weeks now and we certainly weren't going to let a little thing like impassable highways stand in our way.

Recently, as in the last three or four years, the saying "Perception is reality" has become one of the more overused pieces of phrasiology in our culture. I'm guilty of it . . I used to use it nearly every day when I would explain to my staff at the restaurant that a guest's perception of their actions was all we could worry about, not what may have actually happened. Perception was reality in the world of "Guest Service" and it was just something we had to get over. Our trip to Asheville gave me a whole new take on the phrase, however.

As we walked around the historic Biltmore Village a little before the snow's forecasted arrival at noon, it was quite entertaining to hear the way the perception of the reality of the day's weather changed from shop to shop. We heard a patron at a fly fishing shop tell the clerk how he'd heard that the forecast was for as much as 6 inches of snow. He mentioned that he and his wife were going skiing later, so I'm sure that perception was what he wanted to happen. Later, a young girl in a kitchenwares store told her mom she'd heard it was supposed to be icy and cold. Then, as we left the last shop before heading to lunch we heard the over-zealous sales clerk telling an old woman that she'd heard they weren't going to get any accumulation at all. I'm sure deep down her perception was based at least partly on the fact that her paycheck was tied to the store's sales and she didn't want to have to close down early. Can't let Mother Nature get in the way of paying off all those holiday credit card bills.

The reality turned out a little on the disappointing side, at least if you're like me and enjoy the white stuff. We did get to enjoy the flurries from our window seat on the second floor of a cute little restaurant in the village, but they only lasted about 4 hours and none of it stuck. Oh well, I guess everyone can't be right all the time.

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