I believe that most people do as I do when people-watching – allocate the various individuals to the variety of types. Fortunately, it doesn’t matter if we’re right or wrong, because we aren’t going to do anything with the information. It’s just an idle pastime. I would like to be right all the time, but life has taught me that you just don’t know the character of the stranger until it’s no longer a stranger.
Years ago, I worked in an upscale automobile showroom. We had on the floor a magnificent example of the famous Ferrari marque. Ferraris were much more rare in those days, and there were frequent visitors to the showroom just to see a Ferrari in person.
One day, a big, burly guy in a homemade bulky-knit sweater with a bowling pin motif in the pattern came into the showroom. His baggy dungarees were crumpled at his ankles where the hung over the unlaced work boots. One would wonder that he had ever heard of Ferrari. I asked him to let me know if I could help him in any way and went to see what he drove in with. It was a damn, priceless Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing. I was sure glad I’d been courteous to him, in spite of the erroneous judgement I’d made. Well, basically I was right, because he turned out to be a rough, crude sort of man. He had Ferrari level money because he’d build up a successful metal machining business, but was still a mug – with taste in cars.
Recently, while waiting at a health clinic, I observed the arrival of a young couple. I’m assuming they were a couple, even though there was almost no connection between them. He, a tall, thin, gawky kid in a baggy, blue T-shirt over loose, beige shorts to the knee, with bulky pockets on the thighs. He entered ahead of the girl and did not hold the door for her. She trundled in behind him, tragically homely, mass of springy looking black hair, and a black T-shirt with large, white print on the front that read, “This Is The Place”, or something like that. She tugged nervously at the shirt to pull it down over the substantial “love handles”, or “spare tire” if you prefer.
I feel I could guess what type of car they have, what their apartment would look like (I’d bet it’s an apartment in a boring high-rise. not a house). But he could have been a brilliant programmer with a successful start up, and she might be the girl who cleans up around the office who was feeling faint, and he’s a thoughtful boss who brought her to the clinic. Or, she could be accidentally pregnant by him and he could be a marijuana dealer who’s trying to get a doctor to abort her.
But I sure did choose types for them within seconds. Fortunately, it doesn’t matter if I’m right or wrong.