It was the first day of my first summer at Woods Cross*. I was scared, I was grumpy, and I was kind of in a shy stage of life. I walked in, and I met my fellow workers. One guy in particular stands out in my mind. He had long hair, numerous tattoos, ripped jeans, and he made me quite nervous. Being the sheltered Farmington/Centerville-bubble girl that I was, I was convinced he was a bad guy and that I should stay away from him. I avoided him at all costs. I'm not proud of it, but I even ate lunch in my car so I wouldn't have to be around him.
The next summer when I returned to this workplace, I had grown up and matured a bit, but I faced the same problem: this guy scared me. Did he still scare me? After a few weeks of fretting about it, I decided to try and talk to him, just to see what would happen. I was nervous about it of course, but I had heard him once talking about a t.v. show that I liked, and decided to start with that. A common interest.
Our one common interest started a conversation and then blossomed into a totally awesome friendship. I was shocked to find out that he was not what I had originally thought. And we actually had more than one thing in common! He was absolutely hilarious, kind, energetic, generous (he bought me this book he knew I was obsessing over without me even asking) and just a fantastic person. He made my summers at that place more enjoyable than I ever dreamed possible. There was a lot of teasing back and forth between the two of us, but he was (and still is) a true friend.
He really is a big teddy bear on the inside, and just genuinely cares about people. For example: once, I was having a particularly bad day at work, and he knew this. I got a text from him (he was working in a different part of the school than I was at the time) that said "Ash, we need you in the drama room for a sec. Hurry!" I ran down there and called for him and he says "Okay, close your eyes." Perplexed, I did so. When I was told to open them again, I saw him standing there in a red leather jacket he'd found in the costume closet. He then started dancing and singing like one of my faves, Michael Jackson. He got the biggest laugh out of me, and I was happy the rest of the day! Now who would have expected that from this guy? Not I. But it certainly changed my perspective.
So now I pose this question: why is outward appearance so important to us? Why are we typically only drawn to people that look/act/dress similar to us? Personally, I think it's because if someone's appearance makes us uncomfortable, we are under the impression that their personality will do the same. I certainly fell victim to that way of thinking that first summer. Boy, was I proven wrong! I learned a very important lesson here. Of course I'm not perfect, and I still judge way more than I should. But when I catch myself stereotyping or judging before I know someone, I try to remember this friend, who is one of the greatest people I know.
*I know I talk about that place a lot... but when you spend 3 summers somewhere, it tends to have an impact on your life.