Hrm… something happened to me the other day that made me ponder how judging someone hastily may end up costing yourself! Suffice to say, we all judge people immediately from the first time we see them to the last time we see them – but some judgments are more educated than others. On Tuesday, I had a day off and decided with nothing better to do, I joined my aunt, uncle and mom to lunch which they originally had planned. Since it was not a “formal gathering” I decided to dress simple (especially on a day-off where I don’t have to wear “work clothes”), a t-shirt and jeans. This is definitely a rare treat for me to be able to dress-down since other times I’m either in dress pants/dress shirt or at the very least, business-casual collared shirt w/ slacks or khakis. To be honest, I think in a way, I’ve grown out of dressing down, even by choice. Perhaps to me, I want to ensure I maintain a professional-look even on my “off days” because you never know who you may bump into, whether an existing or potential client.
Nevertheless, we had a lunch at a nearby family dining restaurant, one of our favourites because they have 5.49 lunch specials (Includes coleslaw, choice of potatoes and an entree)! We’re also regulars there, so we also get our VIP card “stamped” for a free meal on the 5th visit and as well we have a $5 off coupon on each of our visits (with minimum restrictions of course). After the meal, we decided we didn’t want to head home since I had a day off and our aunt/uncle had came all the way in from Mississauga, so we wanted to go wander around a nearby mall.
My mom enjoys walking at this mall every day because it is close-to-home and to her, all it matters is that it’s an “indoor mall” because she does it for her morning exercises and a place to have a muffin and coffee. We passed by one of her favourite jewelry stores. Recently, my side job has been providing me with some extra income so I thought I’d spoil my mom with something nice. We usually aren’t very picky with our salesperson, but out of all the ones available (about 5-6 on the front counter), we only knew 1 of them. I would hardly say we’re “regulars” but my mom goes into the mall a lot and is recognized by many of the employees there.
As I walked in, I noticed several salespeople who looked up and simply put their heads back down. It was very unusual because of the many times I’ve walked into this establishment, I’ve always been greeted and asked if I needed assistance. The lady who we usually deal with was busy with another customer and it isn’t like we “had” to talk to her, so any other person would’ve done. At that point, we didn’t have a plan of buying anything, but certainly, even random people who walk in to browse usually get a lot better treatment. Maybe it was the fact I wasn’t wearing a suit or “looked rich” and therefore received no attention. The lady who we normally dealt with saw us, smiled, waved and politely gestured that she was attending to another customer.
My mom peered into the displays as usual, checking out a variety of rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, etc. We looked from everything from the cheapie stuff (a couple dollars) to the more expensive thousand-dollar ones. Yes, I realize there are also diamonds which exceed the $10,000 amount, but it wasn’t like we were planning on buying those. My mom and I spent about 20 minutes looking at all the displays and all the salespeople just seemed to have ignored us. Suffice to say, it wasn’t like I was dressed “off the street” like a bum, unruly, dirty and smelly – I didn’t feel like having to “dress up” just to go for lunch.
The lady who we normally dealt with finished and she approached my mom and I. She looked around and thought it was weird that none of the other salespeople asked if we needed assistance. We explained the usual pleasantries and we said we were just browsing but would let her know if we wanted to see something out of the display case. The several times I’ve been to this shop, I had been looking at getting a bracelet for my mom since I had already gotten her a necklace, ring and pair of earrings. I always ask her why she doesn’t wear them, but she says she likes to save them for occasions and also because those accessories are easier to lose. She said a bracelet might be a bit easier to match with her clothing. I noticed this one…
It’s not “the best of the best” but I have been looking at it for a while. It was rather expensive at it’s original price of $750CAD, but was on sale so I asked my mom if she wanted me to buy it for her! It’s a nice 10kt yellow gold, but unfortunately the diamond wasn’t a full carat 😦 I did spot a 1 carat diamond ring, but she said she didn’t want me to spend that kind of money.
Actually, the last time I bought my mom something, I was also eyeing something for my girlfriend and you know what’s great about her? It’s the fact she doesn’t try to “compare” herself with my mom. I told her the one I thought that would look great on her wasn’t as expensive as the one I got for my mom, but she said it’s very normal for me to prioritize my mom over her. She also mentioned she wouldn’t be jealous if I had spent more on a present for my mom rather than her. She’s understanding and holds family hierarchy and traditional values tightly and that’s amazing. It’s very rare that you hear girls being so 大方 (generous attitude towards something). Honestly, one of the greatest pains about being a son when it comes to family is the fact he always has to be stuck in a position where he has to chose girlfriend/wife or mom. Something like that is the bane of every son in this world (with a living mother). Luckily for me, I can happily know (err.. hope) they won’t get into petty squabbles, because I care about both of them in different ways. In jest though, women always “say one thing and think another” so although she says she wouldn’t be jealous, I have a feeling if something like that happens in the future, I’m sure that night I’ll be sleeping on the couch 😆 HAHAHA.
Ah shit, back to the story. So trying to get service was pretty hard and you know, I’m used to walking into a store and being asked if I needed help. This has nothing to do with me being “high up” – it’s just that I dislike bothering people if they are engaged in other matters. I will usually wait for a salesperson who is free before I ask them something, whether it is in a jewelry store or the supermarket. The lady who went usually dealt with noticed that my mom and I were discussing whether we wanted it (in Chinese) and she came over asking us if we wanted to see something. My mom tried it on and she liked it, so we proceeded with the purchase. As the lady took it to the counter to perform the transaction and wrapped it up, all the other salespeople suddenly flocked over and asked us if there was more we needed assistance. Funny that just moments ago, they didn’t even bother to lift their heads and acknowledge our presence until we actually bought something. We received the bag and we happily left the store.
It’s interesting how we as humans often perceive people based on outward appearances. I will not say I’m one of the guys with impeccable tidiness or dress-for-success (when I go out casually), but I’m certainly presentable and clothed. I dress for the ocassion and I dislike it when people make the assumption of whether I look “fit to purchase something.” I suppose all the other salespeople didn’t bother serving us because I looked poor (not that I’m claiming to be rich either though) or even if I did buy something, it would be something cheap where it wouldn’t be worth their effort to serve us. In the end, we bought something that could easily equate to commission worth a full days of work or at the very least, half a days pay for your average household (in a matter of 30 minute serving us). I understand when it comes to serving customers, there are no guarantees they will buy something and many “experienced salespeople” will say they can spot those who are truly interested in browsing or ones who are actually buying. Maybe these people just weren’t experienced enough to spot us or perhaps a misjudgment on their part, but it was a foolish act because any other one of those salespeople could’ve been the one to win this transaction had they taken the time to even reach out their hands in assistance.
I learned this lesson at a young age, that it is a grave mistake to judge people too hastily. I remember when I went to meet one of my dad’s friend (we respectfully call our elder male friends “uncle” in Chinese relations) at a high-class hotel for lunch. We did not pick the place (since we’re not of that wealth-level) and I thought it was very awkward that when uncle arrived, he was dressed in some shaggy shorts, had sandals on and looked like he just got out of bed. I quietly whispered into my dad’s ear whether that is “actually the person we’re meeting” and sure enough, it was. It turns out this uncle owns about 3 buildings in Hong Kong and is a major shareholder across many 5-star HK hotels. What I also didn’t see was that he arrived in a personal limo, the CEO of the hotel came down to greet him and call him by name when he arrived and that all the workers bowed their heads and called him Mr. ____ as he walked by – all this, I did not see and could not fathom for a man who could easily pass as a guy who picked up cans off the street. From then on, it was a great lesson at a young age to not judge people by exterior means, unless you have something to back up those judgments. “Wealth” is not always something that can necessarily be seen either. As I was told by my dad later, uncle’s bank account balance more trailing 0’s (zeroes) than the number of holes I had on my belt.
The next time (especially for people involved with sales) you decide to judge someone based on exterior appearances, think again for they may have surprizes you don’t know about. Don’t overlook people until you have the facts!