be less prejudiced
prej-u-dice /ˈprejədəs/ Preconceived opinion not based on reason or experience
So often we think of racial, religious, and sexual prejudice. Though the word is often used in regards to one’s bias towards a group of people, my trouble with prejudice is largely more personal.
Allow me to illustrate this point with a stoy…
One afternoon in the weeks before Christmas, I rushed off to Target between work and handbell practice to pick up a few things–namely, gift wrap, Play-Doh, and a book for my book club’s Christmas exchange. With less than 20 minutes to shop and get to church, I quickly chose the latest Lisa See novel, Shanghai Girls, sped through the aisles, and was disappointed to find only three open registers. I chose the shortest line–and quickly regretted my choice. The sales associate was an older, larger woman with huge, thick glasses. She had a nasally voice and was talking in a slow drawl with the customers in front of me. Each conversation seemed to go on far too long–every item she scanned invoked a story about her grandchild, or a discussion about the sale price. I considered jumping in another line, but at this point felt like I’d invested too much time waiting. Compulsively checking the time on my phone (and realizing I was, without a doubt, going to be late and hungry), I had certainly pre-judged this woman. From her appearance and the comments I’d overheard, I’d (unconsciously) decided she was uneducated, unintelligent, and just plain a hindrance to my busy evening.
Finally, it was my turn in line. I placed my three things on the belt and greeted her with a cursory “hello,” meant to indicate my hurry. Picking up Shanghai Girls, the woman commented, “Oh, this is a fabulous book.”
I looked up, a little surprised. “Well, good,” I replied, “I’m looking forward to reading it.”
“Have you read any of her others?” she asked me.
“Actually, I did my junior project on Snow Flower and the Secret Fan in college,” I answered.
“Oh, that one was wonderful. You know what else I just read that I really enjoyed? Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.”
“I love that book!” I gushed. “I just read it a few months ago.” The woman, who was so clearly the opposite of all the preconceived notions I’d made about her, went on to name two or three other books that are on my To-Read list.
“Well, honey,” she said as she handed me my back, “you come back and tell me about what else you’re reading!”
“I will!” I said. As I walked out to my car, amidst the other holiday shoppers rushing to and fro without an ounce of patience for one another, I thought about how that experience at the register had really put me in my place. Who was I to judge someone based on their appearance or their career? How unkind, prejudiced, and un-Christian was that?
I truly feel as though God chose my line at Target that Wednesday. Since that evening, I’ve thought of that woman often; I even considered returning with an invitation to join my book club, since I know it would match her tastes. So, one of my 2012 resolutions is to judge less, practice patience, and endeavor to see the good in people.