While I was doing errands about a half-a-dozen Octobers ago, a brief encounter got me thinking about the commonly used phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” I put those thoughts in writing, and I recently found them in a file in my computer. This is what I wrote that day:
Don’t Judge a Book By Its Cover
|The covers on these books have seen better days, but the contents are still classic.|
Don’t judge a book by its cover. A worn out cliché, but it rang true for me today.
This afternoon, I stopped at an auto-parts store to look for the jumper cables I had promised to purchase. These would be our donation for the “Car Care” basket my son's class was assembling for a Silent Auction at the School PTA Halloween Carnival.
I wandered up and down the somewhat scruffy and cluttered aisles, feeling very out of my element. I was surrounded by men, all seemingly with a purpose and appearing comfortable locating what they needed. I perused every aisle, but couldn’t find the jumper cables.
My frustration mounted and I was nearly ready to concede defeat and leave empty-handed. Suddenly, like a white knight, a man in a store vest said, “I’ll be with you in just a moment, Ma’am.” (He must have read my mind . . .)
Seconds after he spoke to me, my eyes alighted on “just the thing” – an inexpensive “Emergency Car Kit,” complete with all sorts of emergency items, including the jumper cables I was needing to buy! When the salesperson returned to my side, I asked him if the contents of the kit were accurately depicted on the packaging, and told him why I needed it.
He confirmed the contents. To my surprise though, he said, “But you probably want another one. This box is worn and stained, and the packaging is cut through. Let me look in the back, as I think we have a newer-looking one there.”
I was very taken aback, and more than a little ashamed of myself. Somehow, I had placed this person in a stereotype, based on my observation of the disorganization of the shelves and dirt on the floor, and even (unforgivably) his gender. I had just assumed details of packaging and the aesthetic appearance of an item would have been unnoticeable and unimportant to the men managing and working in the store.
Not only did this sales person find an impecable emergency car kit for me, he also voluntarily provided some store coupons, and a free t-shirt to add to the basket as well.
Quite different from the cover, indeed.As I recall, the “car care” basket was a popular item at the auction. I'd like to think that my family’s contribution of jumper cables provided an increased feeling of security for the driver who acquired it. The awareness I experienced while purchasing them, however, was priceless.
|I recognized the absurdity of some unconscious stereotyping, while shopping for jumper cables.|
When was the last time you made an assumption about a person, but once you got to know them better, you realized it was not true?