I was in the grocery store today after teaching hip hop. I had my sweats, big shirt, hoodie and my favorite graffiti trucker hat on. I completely forgot what I looked like before rushing into the store.
In the juice isle, an elderly lady gave me a strange look. She looked at me like I was going to attack her! I brushed it off thinking it’s was probably just my imagination.
In the deli, the store manager was stocking up on items needing to be replenished. I looked over to see him watching my every move – especially my hands. He seemed concerned. I started feeling a little self-conscious.
In the line up to pay, I caught the eye of two high school girls looking me up and down with glaring eyes. I smiled at them only to have them instantly turn away. ”OK, WHAT’S going on? Do I have something on my face?”
As I was heading out the door, some twelve year olds greeted me with an enthusiastic: “Word up, hommie. That’s strait up G!”, then carried on their way. They left me standing there bewildered…. “Word up what? And who on earth is ‘G’?” Ya, that’s right: gangsta momma driving her minivan. “You see me rollin’”…
Then AH HA! It hit me. I remembered what I was wearing! What an eye opener. How I was dressed determined how various people treated me. I freaked that sweet elderly lady out. The manger may have thought I was the suspicious type. For some reason I threatened those teenage girls, and my graffiti hat is always a hit with the tweenies.
It’s interesting as I’ve experienced this before. I’ve headed to the mall in my grubs only to be brushed off by sales staff in the store. Fast forward to the next mall visit in my Le Chateau best and my bling earrings only to be waited on hand and foot. I must admit that the latter is a much nicer experience.
People tend to judge based on what we look like on the outside. You don’t even have to be a shallow person to do this – it’s just the way we work. I’ve also done this to others. I’ve been afraid to befriend people who seem aloof and cold only to find out they were just really shy. I’ve judged the homeless-looking person. I’ve assumed they’re lazy, not realizing that they are working morning to evening and traveling from shelter to shelter with their family only because they can’t afford rent. I’ve felt threatened by the mom in her trendy coat, cute leather boots with starbucks in hand, not realizing she hasn’t a friend in the world she can trust…..
No matter what someone looks like on the outside, we never know what is going on inside of them. After my experience in the grocery store, it reminded me of the importance of how I view others – and how I treat them in response. I’ve been making effort to notice those who are usually looked over, and watching the judgments that come out of my heart towards those who appear “put together”. Everyone wants others to believe they’ve got it together.
I’ve become more aware of how easy it is to treat those who appear important with great prominence. There are many who flock to the seemingly elite only to either be brushed aside, or to find someone with higher esteem to flock to. It’s an unfulfilling aim that never gets to any meaningful friendship.
Today, do you see the overlooked? Can you see past appearances? Can you find the “kindred-spirit” in someone you wouldn’t have expected?
We may be in for some nice surprises….