It's a natural thing to categorize or classify people based on what we see, but it is not so natural a thing to judge. But that's exactly what I caught myself doing this afternoon. I was at the nail salon and a woman walked in. I looked at her and based on the size of the diamond on her hand, her dark tan, the cute clothes she was wearing and the excellent blonde on her hair, I dismissed her as married to a rich guy, not working, living the life at salon after salon, or shopping. I dismissed her because I assumed based on nothing concrete that she had the easy life. Seriously, all this passed through my mind in about ten seconds. In that short of time, I not only summed her up but dismissed her.
She was seated at the station next to me. On the other side of her was a woman who apparently is in her children's carpool during the school year. They started talking and I started humbling. What I learned from my eavesdropping was that she has three young children, this woman, and she's raising them alone because her husband is in Iraq. She hasn't seen him since December but is hoping to see him this December. They talk when they can but it's not often. One of her daughters wears hearing aids and the summer camp program has been very hard on her because the children are teasing her. She's not at all sure what to do because each morning her daughter is having fits about going to day camp but has shut her out as to working through it. And she's so tan because this past weekend her mother took her and her children to Galveston for the weekend to give her a break and help her out. To top it off, she was not at all complaining about this, not a bit. It just came out in the conversation, stemmed from the other woman's questions.
So, yeah, I'm humbled and I feel selfish and judgmental. I felt about two inches tall when I left the salon. Deservedly so. Walking out of there, I knew with certainty that in that scenario, I was the dismissible one. And I've once again learned the lesson not to judge a stranger, because you just never know what is going on in another's life. You never know.