A simple life-lesson from the corners of a loaf of bread

I don’t recall where I first heard this story. But it is a story that I always would remember for more reason than one. The story goes…

A man and a woman are married for more than 30 years. They are very happy except for one minor thing that the man is always annoyed about his wife. Whenever she serves bread to the family (herself, husband, kids), she always makes it a point to give the bread corners to the husband.

The husband is always so very annoyed that the wife gives the softer middle portions to the kids and eats them herself, but ends up giving the corners to the husband. He has never asked her this and this builds up the annoyance over the years.

Finally, after years of putting up with this behavior, he blurts it out as an angry question. The wife is very surprised and goes on to explain her behavior. It seems that the bread corners were the most cherished parts of a loaf of bread when she was growing up. Her father used to give them as a prize for the best behaved, between his 3 daughters, and they used to vie for the bread corners! So, when she was giving her husband the corners, she was actually giving, what in her mind was, the best part of a loaf of bread. She was literally reserving the best part of a loaf to her husband because she loved him the most.

This little tale tells me so many interesting things to remember about life. One obvious lesson is that perspectives are always different and personal. Every one thinks in a particular way and just because they do, their point of view isn’t poorer or better than your own. It’s just a different way to think.

It particularly rings true when I encounter opinions that are diametrically opposite to mine, online – on many topics, including music, about which I write a lot. Musical opinions can polarize people, and people tend to hold their musical stars very close to their heart, defending them when others don’t like some piece of music by their idols.

Most recently, I recalled this story when I read a Twitter thread about cab drivers (Ola, Uber etc.) playing music in the car while you are in it. There are several ways to consider this behavior. One obvious way is that they do it to alleviate their boredom, given how difficult and taxing driving is, in our crowded cities.

If you recall the bread corners story, the other way to look at this behavior is that they are showcasing their taste in music to you, the guest! This is particularly for fidgety drivers who don’t stay on one song and wait till a particular song plays. You could be anybody, speaking any language, but the cab driver, as the car’s owner wants you to listen to his preference in music because you are in his domain for the time being. This could be seen alongside another driver behavior, of how they chat with the passengers and showcase their knowledge.

When you see it from this perspective (like the husband finally coming to know why he gets the bread corners, and that they are not the undesirable objects like he imagined, but coveted objects, from this wife’s point of view), you manage the situation differently. Instead of getting annoyed with the driver for playing music without perhaps seeking your permission, you could be more graceful in letting him know your preferences – that you don’t understand the music that is being played, or ask what music is being played to understand it first and then offer your preference. This, instead of bluntly asking the driver to shut the music off or reduce the volume.

Of course, you could still continue to ask the driver to turn it off/reduce the volume without all these considerations, but just imagine how you may feel if someone shuts down your perspectives in a meeting at work, or at home.

There may be more pressing and practical reasons for being this considerate to your Uber driver, however. These!