When I was in my early teens my parents owned a small mixed business in Mascot. One of our customers was an elderly lady confined to her home.
Everyday I would deliver her bread, milk and other groceries. She insisted on paying me one shilling a week.
She had a married daughter, Mrs Sutcliffe, who lived on a sheep station in Goolgowi, near Griffith. Mrs Sutcliffe and her husband had three children. I was invited to spend the school holidays with them.
After the extraordinary train trip to the Riverina district, I expected my holiday to be unremarkable by comparison.
Nearly every morning Mr Sutcliffe invented a new way to wake me - holding my nose, banging saucepans, splashing water, even putting assorted creatures in my bed.
Often the kids and I would go out to set rabbit traps. One morning we caught a huge goanna. After releasing it (minus one leg) it took off after us. We ran like crazy, barefooted, back to the house. On the way, I trod on a red belly black snake. Fortunately, I was running so hard the snake didn’t have time to recover from its own shock to bite me.
In addition to hundreds of sheep there was quite a menagerie of other animals. The only ones I really cared for was the sweet natured milking cow and the working dogs. The cow loved a cuddle and would try and snuggle in while being milked. The dogs always accompanied us on our adventures, often getting into more trouble than we did.
As for the rest! It is a wonder I am an animal lover.
The pet sheep did not like me. It was happy to have kittens, puppies and children on its back, but not me. If it was in the house yard when I went out in the morning it would head butt me all the way to the outside toilet.
The huge goose thought it was the watch dog. It would also chase me and peck at my bottom.
Then, Mr Sutcliffe thought I should learn to ride a horse. I am sure it was for his amusement and not for me to learn life skills. “Just go up when the horse goes up and down when it goes down”, he instructed. After thirty minutes of not getting the hang of this riding lark I’d had enough. Climbing down I said to him. “You might as well tell the horse to go up and down when I do because we are not communicating!”
For all my whining, the holiday was great fun and quite an experience for this “city girl”.
How accurate are our first impressions of others? What first impressions do we convey?
I recently retired from working for a food van at a truck stop. My boss allowed me to put my two books (Angel with Drumsticks and For the Love of a Dingo) for sale on the counter. I was amused when customers were surprised that a ‘breakfast cook’ wrote the books. Was their preconception of someone doing my job that I would not have the education, knowledge or skill to write much more than a text message or Facebook post?
Similarly, someone who knew me only as an author was surprised I was a tourism manager and consultant in my professional working life. I wonder what my ‘truckies’ would have thought about that?
It doesn’t matter to me how people perceive my abilities but there are times it is not only embarrassing for the person making a wrong assumption but an insult to the person misjudged.
When I was teaching customer service, I used a collection of photos of family and friends to gauge the students first impressions.
One was of my IT guru stepson, snapped while very grubby from working on his car. Ferrari is his surname and he is directly related to the famous Enzo Ferrari. One day, at a motor show he asked the attendants if he could have a closer look at the Ferrari on display, mentioning his name. They all laughed and derided him until he produced his driver’s license. They ended up looking the fools.
Is it a good idea to form judgments about people before knowing much about them?
What are the problems of being judgmental about customers?
How does our personal presentation and the first impression we create affect the way we are accepted or rejected by others?
I’d be interested if you have experienced any moments when you have been wrongly perceived.