Expectations vs Reality

chicagoA recent trip to Chicago had my mind buzzing again about a topic I continuously evaluate internally; expectations versus reality.

We’re all guilty of it. Too often we expect the best quality, people, and services, only to be let down when the reality at hand falls short. Our preconceived ideas of places quickly become remnants of the past. The respect we anticipate fizzles into thin air, and we’re left wondering why our expectations were even so high to begin with.

That particular night in Chi-town I had ventured out to a roof top bar and lounge with my friend. It was a chilly (colder than expected) night, but nevertheless we got two glasses of wine and snagged a bench in the outside bar area right in front of the cozy fire pit. The bar gradually became more crowded, yet nothing usual for a Friday night. We gabbed on, catching up on months of stories and experiences, not paying much attention to the people around us.

Then, at some point an older married couple grabbed a bench to my right. They looked perplexed, dressed as though they had just come from a ritzy Chicago wedding reception.

Shortly after they sat down, we noticed the employees begin to frantically hustle and bustle around them. Menus, bottle options, questions galore. “Yes, sir,” and “No, Mam” left and right.

Now we are wondering who this important man in the large suit and glasses must be. His wife leans over and asks me “Is that a real glass?” I assure her it is, and she observes her plastic champagne flute in disgust. She whispers some comment to her husband and continues to stare at the fire as if longing for some unmet need.

The poor hostess returns in a continuous frenzy with another worker. She attempts and fails to open the champagne bottle. At this moment, the wife looks as if she is about to laugh or make a rude remark. They discuss the real glass versus plastic glass dilemma. A detailed food order is taken and the workers hustle away.

As the commotion over this couple persisted, I found myself becoming irritated. Regardless of this man’s title, is it necessary for these people to act this way? Do we as people expect so much that it ruins our expectations before we can even have them? Is it human nature to expect the best treatment, service and respect of others, then face instant disappointment if those expectations aren’t met?

Perhaps we should focus less on expectations and more on making the most of our experiences. Does it matter if your champagne flute is plastic? You’re on a rooftop bar with a beautiful view of Chicago.

Experiences can be flawed in some way, but they are only completely ruined if we let them be. We can’t control if a waitress accidentally drops our food or forgets one item we ask for, but is it truly the end of the world if it happens?

A flawed reality is what we live in. If we choose to accept that things will not always go “our way,” we can live life with a different, open-minded perspective which observes instead of insists.


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