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Sometimes we need to take a step back and remember the basics.

Once, when my son was six, he and I were walking briskly, and I was drinking my coffee from my signature on-the-go mug. In my rush, I took a gulp of coffee a bit too enthusiastically and began to choke. As I was coughing and gasping to recover, my son stopped walking, looked at me wide-eyed, and then asked suspiciously —

“Mom . . . are you morphing?”

It took me a moment through watery eyes to realize what he meant.

In every movie he had seen, which at that age entailed superhero science-fiction, when characters coughed with gusto, it didn’t mean “something went down the wrong pipe” (where is the entertainment value in that?) but rather, that was the tell-tale sign that a character was undergoing a transformation from a nondescript person to a threatening sci-fi enemy.

Of course, that wasn’t what was happening.

As a workplace professional, I often encounter situations in my work, investigations, and training in which people assume the more outlandish scenario as opposed to something more simple, only because of what they’ve been exposed to on social media or on a show. The most extreme viewpoint becomes representative of an entire group. And while life is sometimes stranger than fiction, it’s best to go back to basics, learn what those basics are, and what to do when we encounter them. The choking posters would have, for example, come in handy in my situation.

When someone is choking on their coffee, instead of preparing to battle the creature into which they may be morphing, perhaps we should pat them on the back, give them a moment, and render first aid as needed. Maybe even follow up with a glass of water.

Not as exciting, I know, but probably far more effective.

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