I watched him get out of a new pick-up truck. He wore a black Harley-Davidson t-shirt and blue jeans with scuffed brown leather boots with rounded toes. His slicked-backed silver hair matched the several ounces of sterling jewelry that adorned his beefy frame. His face, from what I could see of it, under the gray sunglasses, looked younger than his hair suggested. He walked towards me, unsmiling. I was fighting to lift a filled cooler of ice and beer into the back of my Jeep Wrangler. I purchased cold drinks for my brother and his fiance who were in the middle of do-it-yourself-move into their new home. The thermometer read 90 and the humidity made my curly hair exponentially expand. It was a typical Georgia summer day. Warm sweat trickled down my spine. Maybe my all white athletic shorts and fitted t-shirt wasn’t the best choice – I felt like a wilted flower. He walked closer.
I smiled and he offered to help me lift the fully stocked cooler into my Jeep. He rearranged the back seat and then easily lifted the cooler into the back. He told me “I used to own a Jeep like this…. your top isn’t put on right.” He swaggered to the driver’s side and reached up and pulled the dark green fabric tighter. I shrugged and smiled simulataneously enjoying playing the role of the helpless female. He was a biker boy – the type that make many people cringe. His appearance epitomized the bad-boy-biker image.
He said his name was Ted and that he owns his own business. He asked me if I wanted to see his bike. I did. He led me over to his truck with an attached trailer and unlocked the door to expose a beautiful bike with an abundance of shiny chrome everywhere. It was a replica of a 1950’s version with broad white wall tires too. I liked Ted. He seemed like a decent guy. So many people I know would have cast him in a negative category. I’m glad I didn’t. He was polite, helpful and a perfect gentleman. This experience reminds me to guard myself against instant judgement.
However, I’m not suggesting to over-ride your gut instinct – especially if you’re female. As humans, we’re hard-wired to make instant assessments on everything in our environment. This behavior helped our ancestors surivive – it helps us survive. We need to quickly judge people to determine if they are friend or foe – if our body needs an adrenalin rush to enable us to fight or flee. It’s innate. So, while I trust my “gut” on so many experiences, I also try to avoid making snap assessments on people who don’t exactly match my own tribe.