Neither judge an apple by its skin
nor a book by the way it's covered;
for inside those tattered pages
there's a lot to be discovered.
Isn't it funny how we form images of what we expect people to be based on the tiniest amount of interaction with or observation of them?
I remember when I was at college, about five years ago now. Every year the college hosted an "Old People's Party". It wasn't a Christmass party or anything like that - just one day, after college hours, we'd put on a spread for some of the elderly people in the area who perhaps didn't get out very much and were perhaps dependent on others a fair bit. We'd put on a spread, sing songs, play bingo and a few board games, and do some other things.
I volunteered to help one year and on the day of the party, I overslept. Having only about five minutes before my bus was due, I just threw on some clothes and legged it to the bus stop. I had my weekly bus ticket in my pocket but realised at college that I had forgotten to pick up my wallet. Not having had breakfast, I was having a lot of difficulty concentrating on anything after lunchtime as I had no money to get lunch and pride prevented me from asking a friend. I was so very hungry!
Anyway, come the end of classes for the day, I went to help prepare for the party. We arranged chairs and tables, and prepared sandwiches. It was really difficult preparing all this food on an empty stomach. All I'd had to eat for the day was a crisp - one solitary crisp - and that's only because someobody I had been speaking with earlier in the day had been eating a packet of crisps and had offered me one.
We made trays of these sandwiches and then took them through to the next room. As I took a tray through, I thought I'd sneak one of the sandwiches to keep me going for a while. Well, as I took the first bite, I became aware of a disembodied voice, saying, 'I thought the sandwiches were for the old people'. I jumped, looked round, and saw, in the doorway, Mrs Whitelegg. Now Mrs Whitelegg was a teacher with whom I had no dealings at all, as she taught a subject I didn't take in a building that I never had cause to enter. She just happened to be walking past the doorway at the time, then she went on her way without saying anything further. I looked in the other direction back into the main hall, and surely enough, Mrs Waller and some of the students who had been arranging the party had heard Mrs Whitelegg and had looked up. When they saw me look back, most of them politely and sensitively looked away and didn't mention it afterwards. I appreciated that but it was all very awkward afterwards and I can still think of very few occasions when I have been so very embarrassed.
Now, I'm sure that Mrs Whitelegg is a lovely lady, with many good qualities and friends who will vouch for that, but the thing is, because of my limited dealings with her, out of my two years at college, my one memory of her was as "that woman who humiliated me that day when I was hungry and had no money to buy food". Now to be fair, I shouldn't have been eating the sandwich, and now I think more about it, the one memory she had of me must have been as "that boy who steals old people's sandwiches".
I suppose it's a lesson not to judge people's personalities based on limited experience of them and that each person is worth getting to know properly. Still, we live in a rational world where much of how we conduct ourselves is based on our experience and it is often difficult to take a step back from that and acknowledge that our experience is not all that there is to the world and to people. Hmmm.
I'm wittering now, so I'll stop.
Neither judge an apple by its skin