Are you prone to making snap judgments about people? Sometimes your gut proves to be accurate. But often it’s way off base. Who deserves a second chance from you today? And who do you need to receive a second change from today?
Last night I stood on my porch talking with a neighbor when a couple of young folks came up to talk to me. They were selling something. Magazines, time shares, dreams, the Mormon faith, something. I explained to them that I had to watch my budget very carefully, and that I gave to a handful of charities that I’ve been faithful to for years. I simply didn’t have fiscal wriggle room to add another one, but I wished them well.
As they walked away, one of them turned back to me and asked with a smile, “Are you 4/20 friendly?” I got confused. He was standing in front of my neighbors’ house, and that house number is 720. In my confusion about what he meant, what I heard, and the address of where I lived, I answered something about street addresses. I sounded confused. I WAS confused.
The guy who said it waved his hand like he was joking with me. Still confused, I went back inside my house and told my daughter about the weird comment the young adult had made to me. I heard my son laughing from him room. “Dad, the kid was asking you if you are cannabis friendly. He thinks you’re a stoner!”
My confusion continued. “Since when does standing on the front porch make someone a stoner.”
My daughter pointed at my chest. “Maybe it’s your tie-dyed shirt.”
“And you are wearing Birkenstock sandals,” my son added.
“When was the last time you shaved?” my daughter continued.
“And that skull cap on your head is something that potheads or bikers’ wear. And you don’t own a motorcycle,” my son pointed out.
“Jack’s right,” Alana said with a serious tone. “All the evidence points to the fact that you must be a pothead.”
I grounded my kids for two weeks.
But it got me thinking about how quickly we are apt to make snap-judgments about others, even when those assessments are unkind, unfair, and inaccurate.
The other morning at the gym, one of the guys who works there was working out, and he started talking to me. I thought it was kind of ironic that this guy worked at the gym. Why ironic? He’s not small. He’s about 20 pounds bigger than me. And I’m not small. But we stood there and talked for several minutes. He told me that 3 years before, he weighed 360 pounds! Through regular diet and exercise, he was within 30 pounds of his ideal weight. My initial impression of him was that he still had a ways to go; the reality was that he had already come a very long way. I judged too quickly. And I was way off base.
Before you form a negative opinion about someone, doesn’t that person deserve a little more charity, a little more understanding? I know that I could sure use some of that coming my way. Because I have no intention of replacing my tie-dyed shirts, skull caps or Birkenstocks…