I’m in the waiting room of the Hockey Quebec office. There’s no one behind the reception desk, so I sit down and pull out my book. With any luck, I’ll have the next hour to myself.
My luck runs out quickly.
“Have you been helped?” asks a man.
“Yes,” I say with a bright smile. “Thank you.”
He smiles, too, and walks away.
I return to my book—and read a whole page before I’m interrupted again.
“May I help you?” It’s a woman this time.
“Oh no,” I say, shaking my head. “I’m good.”
She smiles and leaves.
Two more people come by. Same question. Same smile.
As fascinating as it is,1 I obviously won’t be able to read my book. What else could I do?
Then I remember. I have homework. My creativity assignment2 this week is to observe an event and then imagine as many possible explanations for it as I can. I look around for inspiration… then notice my shoes. I grab my notebook and begin scribbling:
Why is this woman wearing such crappy shoes?
- She has no others. Her feet have inexplicable grown from eating a magic bean. Or maybe it’s a curse of some sort.
- Someone stole all her shoes… and replaced them with these.
- The airline lost her suitcase. She was wearing slippers on the plane. In desperation, she dug these out of the trash can.
- It’s therapy. She’s addicted to fashion and her therapist gave her homework: to wear something old. Her stomach is twisted in knots. What will people think of her?
- She’s sick of winter. Sick of wearing boots. But there are still piles of snow and slush everywhere, so she wears her oldest shoes.
- She’s actually a bazillionaire, but doesn’t want people to know it, so she dresses down. Way down.
- She’s homeless and has no other shoes. She has snuck in to stay warm.
- She’s R.E.D. (Retired and Extremely Dangerous) and in hiding. In this get-up, no one will ever recognize her.
I continue on until I have a dozen possibilities, then I close my notebook. That was fun. And unlike other events I could have chosen, I know the real reason the woman is wearing those crappy shoes. Number 5 is the truth. I keep those shoes for this time of year. It’s officially spring, but there’s still snow and slush and ice where I live. I’m sick of winter. Sick of winter boots. I refuse to wear them. So I keep this pair of tennis shoes for this time of year. I don’t care (much) what people will think.
- The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success by Albert-Lászió Barabási in case you’re interested.
- Hat Tip to The Creativity Book by Eric Maisel for this creativity assignment.