Passing judgment, we all have been guilty of this at some point in our lives. I think one time I know I was most guilty had to do with a book signing that happened with Robert Schuller back when I worked at B. Dalton Bookseller.
Mr. Schuller came in with an entourage of people who were, quite frankly, in the way and somewhat intimidating by nature. They were dressed all in black and there was one on each side of the store. We were told they were body guards. We weren’t given a real reason why they were necessary, but then I guess that was a need to know thing.
We set Mr. Schuller’s books up in a big display in the center of the store and I was responsible for keeping people in line, orderly and making sure the displays continued to look sharp and full. Mr. Schuller looked a bit tired, so I asked him if he would like a drink of water. To my surprise he glared at me and told me he was fine, then turned and took a water bottle from one of his people. I ignored this and set up more books for his display.
Time passed and there wasn’t a great rush of people, but instead a small trickle of patrons that came in to request autographs and go on their way. I’m not sure if this irritated him more, or if he was just in an all-around bad mood, but Mr. Schuller was not pleasant to be around that day. Oh he would smile and act all pleasant around someone buying his book, but the minute they would walk away the bad attitude would return.
When there was no crowd around Mr. Schuller would bark orders at people, including me, and though we wore name tags he kept referring to me as “hey.” After about the fifteen “hey” I was getting kind of irritated myself and started watching the clock to see when he’d leave.
It was when I glanced at my watch the last time that he spoke up and said, “well, I guess you’re glad I’m out of here, aren’t you glad? Not a very nice thing to do to stand and check your watch so much.”
I said softly and up close to him, “My mom reads your books, but after meeting you in person I wonder why. You have been the most arrogant and rude author I have ever worked with, and you can report me, but I still feel like someone should tell you that what you do away from the crowd matters too.” He stood there for a moment, looked at me, then gathered his stuff and left without another word.
I fully expected to be reported and possibly fired for being so bold, but I never heard anything from anyone about it. I went home and debated on whether to grab all of his books and throw them in the trash. I didn’t.
Robert Schuller has a good message and has touched the lives of many people with his books. The man is, however, human and as a human being he too is entitled to having a bad day. Being a public figure can bring a type of stress I have not personally experienced and cannot identify with. Did I have any right to pass judgment on him? I didn’t approve of the way he treated me or the other employees that day, and I can’t say I have gone out of my way to read his books since then, but the truth is I knew nothing about what kind of day he had been having, nor why he needed extra security, or why he looked tired. So, though he wasn’t exhibiting the kindness or good attitude I thought he should have, I had no right to pass judgment.
They say that first impressions are everything and while there is some truth to that, I think that if you really want to know someone, then take the time to see behind whatever that first impression is be it good or bad. Just as it’s true that not everything that glitters is gold, it is also true not everything that is unpolished and worn should be overlooked or thrown out.
Cherry Coley ©