A Lesson in Judgement

A Lesson in Judgment

Ever been really tired on a Monday?  I start every work day by getting up at 5am, regardless of what happened the night before.  I also suffer from spats of insomnia.  I’m not 100% sure what time I fell asleep last night, but I remember checking my phone at 1:20a.  I somewhat blame the cable companies as, tired as I am, how can I go to sleep knowing that ‘Police Academy 1’ and ‘A Night at the Roxbury’ are on.  Regardless, I woke up tired, and craving energy.

Like a sparkling energy vampire, I made my way to the Starbucks near my work.  I wanted some food, and one of those Superfood drinks.  You know, the green ones that look like sewer water?  I knew that would get me into a ‘working’ state that would hold me over til I broke for lunch, at 11a.

As I was clamoring towards the Starbuck’s entrance, I caught the reflection of a fast moving car headed my way.  Someone wanted their Starbucks bad.  Actually, they wanted it really bad, I had to perform a quick evasive maneuver to avoid being hit.  As I jumped out of the way, the lady driving the car flew into the spot directly in front of the Starbucks door, missing me by only a foot.  From my peripheral, I could tell she must be a ‘busy’ person as her car was an absolute mess.  As she got out of her car, she had on a Jabba the Hutt amount of makeup and Scrubs.  I immediately thought, ‘Ah, crazy E.R. nurse chick – probably has like 50 cats.’ (Sorry to all you nurses out there…)

I made my way into Starbucks, just far enough ahead of her that I wouldn’t feel any guilt for not holding the door.  I wanted in and out as fast as possible.

I was at the Starbucks counter choosing my food situation when she approached.  Maybe it was my tiredness, or my natural inability to choose, but I felt like a deer in the headlights.  I couldn’t move. She was coming in hot, straight for me.  She got very close to me and started mumbling to me about the food choices.  Something about how the bacon was awesome, and she had to have one because it was so good.  It was very awkward.  I knew she was talking to me, but she was mumbling so fast and incoherently that there was no way I could even respond.  Further, she was moving all around me, very closely, from behind.  It was like talking with a pinball, or some strange tribal mating dance regarding the Starbucks ‘Treats’ counter.  All the while, she kept mumbling about how she needed “bacon something” because it was Monday.

With all the zaniness of this woman, and my continuing inability to decide, I chose the most opportune time to tell this woman she could go ahead of me in line.

She ‘arrived’ at the counter.  I say that because of the way she flopped her Star Destroyer sized purse down and began barking orders at the barista.  I picked up that this lady’s orders made the barista uncomfortable and anxious.  The naturally ‘fluent’ motions of a seasoned Starbucks barista became jumpy and unsure.  Oh, and after all her hub-bub about bacon, ‘my friend’ ordered a blueberry scone.

I held my breath as I knew this epic Monday morning encounter would be over soon.

It wasn’t.

Monday morning, 6am, in Las Vegas, the lady in front of me orders a coffee, and a blueberry scone –a $3.87 order – and only has a single $100 bill on her.  Yup, she just topped all possible expectations.  $3.87 order, and she could only pay with $100.  She had no other bills, debit card or credit card.   $100 is how she was going to pay, because that’s all she had.  This woman was a pillar of irrational behavior.

Needless to say, the barista wasn’t all too excited at changing out that much money at 6am, and proceeded to tell her it likely wouldn’t happen.  Lady starts fidgeting with her Death-Star of a bag, pulling out pennies, nickels and dimes from every corner, loose stitch and handle.  I’m stuck behind her in line waiting for my goodies.

Being someone who likes order, and seeing my opportunity to resolve the experience with this woman quickly, I offered to pay for her… very loudly.   I wasn’t going to have any more of this awkward communication in MY Starbucks.  If it only costs me $4 to get out of this situation, thank god.  Worth every penny…

After my proclamation, she mumbled some sort of ‘Thank you’ and continued fidgeting in her Jawa Sandcrawler of a purse.  She was now pulling out receipts from every corner…  I assumed in an attempt to pay for her Starbucks in recyclables.

The barista was off doing something else, so there was no way to expedite my eagerness to pay for this woman.  This situation kept going.  Each second, more and more aggravating.

Just then, the manager appeared from the back with the magic register key.  The manager announced hesitantly that she would gladly break the woman’s $100 bill, and return to her $96 in change.  Said manager approached register, and began changing the $100.

As she was changing it, my nemesis, my aggravator, my personal Boba Fett…  insisted on paying for my items.

WHAT?!

That’s right, my 6am morning nemesis threw me for a 180.  She announced that “It’s not often someone offers to do that for someone else, and your kindness must be repaid immediately.”

Oh man, now I was on the hook.  I had judged this lady so guilty from the moment she entered my life, and now she was buying me breakfast.   I feel like such an idiot.  Doh!

I was left with no other option.  I was nice to her, and guess what?  She instantly became normal to me.  Sweet even.  (Maybe it was because she finally had her caffeine.)  We exchanged pleasantries and thanks, and we even joked about meeting back up at Starbucks the next Monday so I could repay HER kindness.  I could have hugged her.  I SHOULD have hugged her!  We laughed, and smiled and she went off to start her day.  It was more of a ‘pick me up’ than a 6-shot espresso.

Great, not only did she buy me breakfast, she taught me a lesson.

In the above paragraphs, you’ll see immense judgment I placed against this woman I didn’t even know.  I had her figured out, from her lifestyle to the loose connections in her brain.  In my mind, she was this complete dust-cloud of human annoyance. I had written her a scathing biography, without asking one question.  I wanted her expunged from my life as quickly as I saw her.

In reality, through the dust cloud that her life appeared as that Monday morning, who knows what she’s really like.  Who knows what experiences she could teach people.  Maybe she only got 3 hours of sleep too.

So often people immediately pass judgment upon others.  Whether it’s a bad first impression, hearsay or just an uncomfortable experience – we place labels on people before we truly get to know them.  Many times, the judgment we hold against others, could easily be applied to ourselves.  As discombobulated as this woman appeared, I’m sure there’s been an occasion where people were behind me in line silently hating me for the same reasons.

Maybe it’s part of the human condition, but Insta-Judging is a very lame thing to do.  Some of the best people I’ve had in my life were people that made terrible first impressions, or simply just ‘bothered’ me to begin with.   Luckily, in my jerkish ways I tolerated them, and quickly found that I actually liked them.  Almost always they taught me something about myself, and almost always ended up being a huge positive on my life.  Thank god for jerkish tolerance.

Granted, this lady has an advantage as she bought me food, but the moral here is to always give people a chance, regardless of your own personal first impressions. Power through your skepticism, social conditioning and beliefs, and be kind towards somebody that bothers you.  Catch ‘em off guard, and in return, let them surprise you.  Besides, it’s much more fun than boring old normalcy.

Anyways, back at Starbucks, my insomnia based learning experience was over.  I was 180’d by some lady, and she made me feel like a jerk.  So as it was finally my turn to pay, I approached the counter and asked the barista if she could break $100 bill.  🙂