What did she think of me when she looked at me?
It was Friday night and my family decided to dine out for pizza at a local pizzeria in town. It’s a place where they know our order, the vibe always comfortable and casual. On this particular night, as we walked in, tables appeared scarce and the line was long. While husband waited in line, I snagged the second to last table, my daughter plunking down next to me.
As I conversed with her (ok, let me be realistic, it was a little later than the typical dinner hour and I was doing everything I could to prevent a full scale melt-down because she was really hungry), an older couple walked in through the door. A tall blonde, with large white faux pearl necklace and a lavender purple purse held the hand of a man whose hair was salt and pepper grey and his black cardigan a little tight around his midsection. Their giggles sprinkled the air and it appeared, at least in my purview, they were working out first or second date jitters. Her voice was loud and she noticed also that the pizzeria was crowded and tables were occupied.
There was one empty table on the right of where my daughter and I were sitting. A small table in the corner, where only my family could extend their arms. The couple both wanted to wait in line together. She decided to keep her lavender purse on the last table to stake a claim on the last spot and announced “I hope my wallet is here when we get back.” A nervous giggle continued as she walked and passed by my table, her message very clear.
I’m not certain of what she thought of me. I wasn’t dressed in a business suit and my Louboutin heels (for the record if you are wondering, I don’t own Louboutins). My hair was partially combed and smudges of mascara probably lingered in the corner of my eye. My eyes probably had dark under eye circles, tired from feeling sick with a cough and cold all week. I didn’t look my best. I realize that.
She made a split second impression about me in one statement. From what she understood about me, I could be a potential thief. Her words, of course, hit me in the gut. I wanted to say, hey lady, I’m no thief. I wanted to say petty theft wasn’t in my resume and that for a period of time I prosecuted people who weren’t abiding by the law. She didn’t see or know that person. I wanted to say that I’m a person with a moral code and ethics, who wouldn’t steal to compromise my character. I wanted to say I am a mother who works hard to set a good example for my child. I wanted to tell her she was wrong.
But I didn’t. When she returned from the line, she went straight to her purse and after finding her wallet, in a surprised tone, she said, “Look, my wallet is still here. I guess I’m lucky.”
In my own inside voice, I said, “No, lady you weren’t lucky. You were never in any real danger from losing your wallet.”
First impression, oh how wrong you can be. This single incident will make me think again before I jump to the wrong conclusion, assumption, or judgment.
Because first impressions don’t always tell the absolute truth about the whole story.
What do you think about first impressions? Have you ever made a wrong first impression? Has a first impression effected an importan decision in your life?