A couple of years ago, I was standing in the checkout line at the grocery store when I noticed that the man in front of me kept turning around to stare. He was a white guy with a ruddy complexion and handlebar moustache. Clad in blue jeans, cowboy boots and a flannel shirt, I automatically assumed he was trying to come up with a nasty comment. I was already on defense, trying to decide how I would respond to his “ignorance” without being a complete ass. I put my food on the conveyer belt, slamming each item down a little more forcefully out of irritation.
“Cowboy” cleared his throat, and my spine went stiff. My jaw was clenched, and I struggled not to make eye contact, lest provoke him. “Ma’am,” Cowboy began. “I don’t mean to be out of line, but that color looks absolutely beautiful on you.” Wait, what? I deflated like a balloon, expelling on the bad energy that I had bottled up inside of me. Setting my own ignorance aside, I smiled and thanked him, and he went on his merry way.
I thought about sharing this story for a long time, but I was too embarrassed to admit that I judged someone solely on their appearance, a quality that I strongly dislike in others. I expected this man to be antagonistic, and was pleasantly surprised by his compliment. We’ve all been taught not to judge a book by its cover, but it’s not always an easy rule to apply to real life. I’ve gotten a lot better at not making assumptions about people, and have built some pretty amazing friendships as a result. I imagine life would be pretty dull if I “stuck with my own kind” and didn’t step out of my comfort zone once in a while.