I don’t like to admit that I can be quite judgemental at times.
Working with my Dad, we get to meet all manner of weird and wonderful customers. The problem is that when a customer is described before we go to a job, my lizard brain goes to work creating a picture of them in my head before I’ve even met them. It’s not always a conscious thing and it’s irrational because leads to unfair judgement – particularly when customers are on a little on the eccentric side. I remember one such customer early in the summer.
I went in to clean the inside of the customer’s house, judging them already. I knew that they used to be a professor at Cambridge University – intellectual, extravagant and a little lonely. While working away, he quickly told me he was a keen Leaver of the EU and began what seemed like a lecture on the faults of modern democracies. It wasn’t a conversation. They wanted someone to listen to them. I do like listening and happily worked away, nodding and murmuring from time to time so they knew I was still attentive.
Then the conversation moved on to Germany, which I am studying at uni. He became very animated then and we chatted about German history, the economy and culture. On saying our goodbyes, he suddenly stopped us and insisted on giving me a large amount of money towards furthering my German studies. This left both me and my Dad standing in shock, although he smoothly ushered us out whilst paying for the window cleaning as well. We left and went to sit in the van, a bit dazed and asking ourselves if that had actually happened.
There I’d gone stupidly being judgemental, not really investing in this person and they’d completely flipped my perspective of them. Instead of seeing them as a fellow human being, I’d made my mind up before I’d even gone in and met them. How wrong can someone be?
I’ve gotten into the habit of asking for one necessary humiliation a day in the hope of encouraging humility. This was certainly a humiliation for unfairly judging someone who turned out to be unbelievably generous.
It is certainly good to be wrong sometimes.