It was a nice sunny day, maybe 70 degrees here in AZ. A perfect early spring morning.
I decided to go work at my favorite local coffee shop. I walked in and saw a guy in his mid 30’s covered in tattoos. Not just arms, but legs, hands, fingers … the whole nine – he was covered in them – some good some bad – that doesn’t matter though. He had a beard, he was sort of skinny, yet not a rail. He kind of looked like a hipster but also had some other type of other aire about him. Not sure what it was. He looked nice, but he also looked lost. That was my initial impression of him.
He was working behind the counter at the coffee shop; I thought he was the new guy – I’d never seen him before.
He was kind of awkward when replying to a couple of professional guys at the coffee bar and I dismissed him as some tattooed guy who is just trying to find his way in life. Just another guy who probably made a bunch of mistakes during his time on earth and is now working at a coffee shop, taking it day by day. I see it almost everyday in every city I visit. It is what it is. Secretely, I wished the best for him.
Everyone deserves a chance, right?
I get in line and a few minutes pass.
The tattooed guy starts talking to a customer. I’m in line behind the guy he’s talking to. Another gentleman approaches the two and interjects.
“He’s the owner of this place.”, says the newcomer.
He’s referring to the tattooed guy. That lost guy I was talking about above.
The tattooed guy admits he is the owner and that business is going quite well. The professional gentleman states that he wishes one of these shops were up in the northern part of the city because he loves this coffee shop. The tatooed guy states that hes looking to expand, reaches under the counter and grabs some business paperwork and starts thumbing through them – looking at numbers and charts, I presume.
The location of this coffee shop is in Scottsdale. Old town to be exact. The thing about Old Town Scottsdale – it is quite expensive here. It’s not a place I’d want to rent a commercial space. It’s very pricey. This place is nice, real nice. It’s defintely an expensive venture, and it is successful. Impressive.
What’s not impressive though?
That guy, the one I stereotyped a minute ago and dismissed as some nobody who is just trying to find his way …well … he is the owner of this place that I call my favorite coffee shop in all of Arizona. He’s not lost. He’s on his way, he has direction. I was wrong to stereotype him. I’m sorry tattooed guy – you have all of my respect and then some. I was wrong.
I order my coffee and step back and wait for it.
No more than 10 seconds later a man in black medical scrubs approaches the counter and puts down a recently emptied pint glass. This coffee shop also serves excellent micro brew beer and he just finished one.
I immediatly think to myself “its 8:10am on a Thursday, and that guy has already had a beer, what the hell?”
I take a longer look at him. He’s in his late 40’s or early 50’s. He looks tired. It’s obvious that he’s in the medical profession. Is he a surgeon or physician? Maybe. Probably. Is he a nurse or a staff member of a surgical team? Maybe. Probably.
I start thinking about why he might be drinking a beer this early in the morning.
I then remember that there is a hospital with a very active surgery center across the street. I can see it from where I’m typing this. My wife actually had a couple of surgeries at that exact location.
I also notice another woman in scrubs drinking coffee at the other end of the shop. I then realize that I see medical professionals in here a lot – I just had not really thought about it before. It makes sense – its a nice relaxing place and its close to the hospital. Its an excellent place to unwind.
Rewind a couple years.
I remember being in that exact same surgery center waiting room with my kids, terrified. I was in there hoping that my wife’s surgery would be a success and without a hitch (it did go well, both times – thankfully). I also remember seeing the others in the waiting room wearing exhausted looks of worry and fear.
I began thinking to myself – the waiting room at a surgery center/ hospital is not a place we go when we want to enjoy ourselves. We’re there because we have to be there, we’re there because we’re hoping women and men like the one who just put down an empty pint glass on the bar a second ago can help fix whats wrong with our loved ones.
Back to the man in the black scrubs …
It’s also obvious that this gentleman is off work – he looks wornout and has a stack of papers near his chair. I’m sure he had a long and late night (and/or early morning).
Back to the counter – He orders another beer.
He returns to his chair and starts reviewing some paper work, taking a moment every few minutes to lean over a bit, rounding his back and then he grasps his head like a basketball player palms a basketball.
Its apparent he’s under some level of duress.
I’m not sure why he’s here, but I have a suspicion that its because what he just went through at work this morning called for a beer, or two … or more.
I can only imagine the things that he sees and deals with. Its very possible someone died in front of him this morning. Its very possible he did everything he could to save this persons life. I can only imagine the level of stress that can bring.
So … who am I to judge him for drinking a beer at 8:10am? I should’nt be worried about it and I won’t be worried about it anymore.
Its also very possible he’s an alcoholic who is feeding his addiction, but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. It looks like he was at work and looks like he had a long night.
What’s the moral of this story?
Its quite simple … both of these guys are having a stereotypical day and I just stereotyped them both within the first minute of seeing them. It wasn’t right.
We need to all act more compassionate towards each other and realize why we feel the way we do, even during our first impressions. Perhaps they’re wrong, most likely our first impressions are wrong.