This week I have started seven different posts, but didn’t finish any of them. I would get half way through one, review what I had written, and then think, “So and so probably doesn’t want me sharing this.” So I would abandon the writing. Thus nothing has been posted this week…until now.
The follow ing story I can share because it only brings light to my foolishness.
Yesterday I was working from Grind On Cafe on Harford road. I tossed my books on a table in an uninhabited corner and went over to the bar to catch up with Gregg (the owner).
Side Note: Okay, seriously, Greg has the greatest Tomato Basil soup on earth. And that’s not my opinion. It is a statement of fact. Scholars and brilliant cooks have debated and come to that conclusion. Really. It’s awesome. Back to Grind On.
I was surprised to see a very interesting girl already chatting with Greg. (Not sure why I was surprised…just was.) She was a little bit shorter than me and looked to be in her early twenties. She wore baggy sweat pants, a baggy black tee-shirt with a strange logo I didn’t recognize, and a grey Sammy-Davis-Jr.-esk fadora.
See, interesting right?
I stood quietly behind her and listened as she describe how recently she had participated recently in a “tree sitting” in New York. She was trying to save some historic hardwoods and had camped in their branches for a while. Greg commented and he had the same kind of hard woods in his back yard. She got all excited and giddy with questions about them.
Oddly, Greg did not answer her questions but rather turned his attention to me and asked, “Hey man, have you seen Cory’s front yard?” (Gregg recently removed some trees from a mutual friend’s front lawn. He did a great job. The yard looks a thousand times better.) After I sang the praises of Cory’s new front yard (not litterally…that would have been wierd), Greg stepped away to grab something. So I took the brief moment to engage the interesting girl in conversation.
I asked her what the result of the tree-sitting was and how she got involved in it. She politely explained as she watched for Greg to return.
Then, of course, her first question to me was, “What do you do?”
This question sent me into a tizzy.
You see kids, I had already unfairly stereotyped her because of how she was dressed, the language she used, what she had done in the past, and the way she carried herself. I had made the assumption that if I said, “I’m a pastor” she would in turn stereo type me as a gay-hating, environment disregarding, Bible thumping, Republican, conservative; and all attempts at further conversation would be thwarted.
To be clear, all this stereo typing existed only in my head. At no point did anyone but me do any stereo typing.
There were a few seconds of silence as I decided how to answer the question. This was strange. Her facial expression made it clear that she thought the silence was weird. Now she didn’t want to talk to me, not because she had stereotyped me; but rather because she had rightly judged me as a weirdo with social issues she needed to be cautious of.
Finally, I mumbled something vague about working in the community and quickly shifted the subject to where she lived, thinking that would allow me to share that my family had just moved into the neighborhood.
Yeah…so…when a conversation with a new person is not going well, don’t ask them where they live. Not a good next move. Her knit brow clearly proclaimed, “Why do you want to know?”
At that moment Greg returned. The girl was clearly more interested in talking to him than to “vague strange community worker guy who asked me where I live,” so I quietly went and sat down in my corner feeling silly that I couldn’t tell a complete stranger that I am a pastor.
The moral of the story is kids…after ridculously over thinking conversations and unfairly stereotyping all parties, don’t ask a stranger where they live.