Letters of Life

First Impressions

No Eating in Lab, No Makeup Application

-- A no-fly zone for yours truly --

This little story puts paid to the idea that first impressions–by this I mean the immediate perception based on a brief analysis of outward appearances–don’t amount to a hill of beans.

Detractors say don’t judge a book by its cover. But human nature is full of biases and the mind categorizes before you can think ‘She needs to wear makeup.’

It was early on a weekday morning. I had just come back from a 40-minute run around the park. The phone rang. Andre had left early for surgery and had forgotten his cell phone. Could I bring it to the operating theatre at the hospital? Now.

No time to shower, I did a quick change into an old t-shirt, Adidas sweats, and dashed out of the house. My hair was still in the messy top-knot from the run, and I don’t think I bothered to swipe on any lip colour. (I mean, it wasn’t even eight o’clock.)

At the OT floor of the hospital, I enquired of the nurses where I should go to leave the cell phone for the doctor. One of them kindly accompanied me to the correct section on the other side of the building. In a bid to make conversation as we walked, I said lightly, “You know, he must have been thinking all about the surgery as he was leaving the house. That’s why he forgot all about his cell phone!”

She did not smile or laugh at this. Instead, she said, “And you are?

“It is only at the first encounter that a face makes its full impression on us.” — Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher, 1788-1860

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