Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I'm Judging You - But Only on Completely Random Traits, So Take Comfort in That

I like this woman so much, I've
already forgive the bear shaped bottle.
A few weeks ago, we had a board meeting for Identity Protected Small Nonprofit  I Work At (IPSNIWA)*. I keep the minutes for these things, which means that I spend a relatively small portion of the meeting scribbling intensely while the motions are worded and reworded and tabled and GAH! make up your mind. Most of my time, however, is spent doodling and making up stories in my head about the people around me.

Our board is a nice enough bunch of people and I like them, but you know, you've got to wonder if anyone is secretly murdering teenagers or feeding their mother-in-law tiny doses of poison on their morning toast. As I was looking around the room, trying to decide who to cast as a character in my mental story of woe and horror, I noticed something. Dried Blood Red.

Let me go back. There was a time in my life, when I actually was A Person Who Owned Nail Polish. But because I am an unrepentant nail biter, I only owned three colors: baby blue, black and dried blood red. Why? Because I strongly feel that if you have skin visible between your nail and fingertip, you shouldn't ignore that and move on with fashion. I embraced the oddity and used odd colors. Except for dried blood red, which I found amusing because my nails were almost always bleeding and it also kinda made it look like I'd just clawed my way out of a coffin and what self-respecting morbid geek girl doesn't want to project that aura?** 

In any case, I was looking at my Board member's dried blood red nails and thinking how she is probably cooler than I think. I bet she's got listenable music in her car RIGHT NOW. And I realized that I was totally judging her based on her nail color. I've known the woman for two years, I know her clothes, her voice, her votes (in IPSNIWA votes only, not really politics) and here I sat, judging her based on nail color. Then I realized that I do it a lot.

So, since then, I've been thinking about what other random criteria I use to judge people. So far I have come up with the difference between your clothes and your kids' clothes (ie, are you treating them like a barbie doll or a mini me), your hair cut (soccer moms, beware), your email address (I cannot take anyone seriously) and what section of the library you hit first.

I want to feel bad about this, I really do, because I don't want to be Judgey McJudgerson and the Judgermatics. But also because I know that prudes can paint their nails blue, cheerleaders can have soccer mom hair and sometimes the grandparents are buying most of your kids' clothes. (Seriously, I almost never buy my kids clothes). But I also know that you have to make these calls based something.

No matter how idealistic I am, I know that I can't actually consider every single person on the exact same field. Say I am at a conference and there are 3,000 people there and I am wandering around on my lonesome. I'm going to have to talk to someone and I can't say two words to everyone there. I, instead, am going to have to pick someone. So, I pick based on nail polish. Or hair style.

And in the grand scheme of things, I think it could be worse. I could be judging people on their bank account or gender (although I do that, too, just a smidge) or car. Really, nail color seems pretty harmless.

And if I automatically pony up to the woman in jeans and a tee shirt while her daughter skips merrily along in a pink tutu with red corduroy pants and a Burger King crown, isn't it just really because I think we have something philosophically in common? If I am more willing to share a reading table with the guy with graphic novels and sci fi than with the lady with cookbooks and DVD's, doesn't that just make some sort of weird sense?

So, what do you think? Am I a horrible person? Do you do it too? What random criteria do you use for judgement?

*I don't like that "at" at the end, but it makes it more pronouncable. IPSNIWA - say it. Now try IPSNFWIW. Really?

** Okay, okay, maybe a lot of them. Whatever. Look, I have the vampire white skin and the witchy black hair. I'm playing to my strengths here, I promise. 


Suze said...

this is a very interesting question! i find myself in groups of parents (for obvious reasons) and if i have to be social, i am usually drawn to stay-at-home-dads (I know a few!) and moms who appear to take their appearance as seriously as i take mine - in other words, the ones who wear jeans and no make-up and who clearly don't pay for any kind of professional hair treatments. maybe it's judgy, but it's a place to start, right?

Jessi said...

Suze - I think you have to have a place to start. Yours make total sense.

Anonymous said...

....For Whom I Work sounds much better to me, but then I'm the kind of person who judges people that way.

Jessi said...

That was my preferred title, but the acronym was unpronouncable. This is one of the reasons I don't talk about work. :)