Webster’s defines prejudice as “preconceived judgement or opinion”. We all have our prejudices, mostly based on some experience that is related to what we are pre-judging.
I must admit, I was going into my tour-guide play day with some prejudices, and it was not a good way to start. You see, I had just spent a month with a great group of Americans who really struggled with being in a country so…un-American. By the end of their trip, they wanted to sleep in an American bed, wake up and have an American breakfast, and speak only English all day long to everyone they met. These are not unreasonable things if you are in America. However, they weren’t, so these things just weren’t going to happen, and that caused them stress. (This is culture shock.)
I assumed that the two girls I’d be with were experiencing the same culture shock, wanting to change their environment to something more comfortable for them. I was…wrong. I had pre-judged Shannon and B based on other, related (recent!) experiences. They weren’t culture shocking; they were getting over being sick. They were actually a joy to be around, but I’ll get to that in due time.
I had also assumed there might be something “broken” or unappealing about them, mostly because I had observed that before in single seminary women who were involved in missions (especially as a career). Again, I was wrong, and I’m saying it.
As I was riding in the taxi to our rendezvous point, I probably said some dopey prayer like, “Lord please give me strength to make it through this day and to be a help to these poor girls.”. The lesson, in hindsight, is that I’m a dork.
Shannon, the hat, and some friends she made over in the big country
As the cab slowed down at my destination, I noticed Shannon. Oh man, did I notice Shannon. I told the driver, “Stop here, please,” to which he responded, “What?”. You see, my first glimpse of Shannon made me forget where I was, because I started speaking English to some guy who couldn’t understand me at all. Well, that was quickly resolved; I talked to him correctly, he stopped, and I began to make my way toward my destiny.
The first thing I noticed about Shannon was this crazy bucket hat she was wearing. The thing looked like someone had splattered it with every color paint you could imagine. It’s the kind of clothing article that catches one’s eye in a crowd. Well, I noticed her.
Which brings me to the second thing…. her eyes. Her amazing, stunning, beautiful eyes. It’s not just that they are this gorgeous blue color – they are almost always so full of life (unless she hasn’t slept well or I’ve left the toilet seat up, or…wait, I’m getting off subject here). Anyway, beautiful, expressive, vibrant eyes. And a smile that lit up the whole park. And I nearly called my team leader that very moment to thank him for forcing me to come meet this woman. Then I quit daydreaming, my thoughts turned to reality and I thought, “This can’t be who I’m supposed to meet.” (prejudices. dumb.)
the eyes have it
I wasn’t sure what to say to her. How do you talk to someone like that? Fortunately, I was saved from looking too silly by someone else. There was another woman talking to me; someone in between me and those eyes, talking, talking, talking…
Oh! The girl I was supposed to meet was talking to me! Pay attention, Jeff! As it turns out, I was looking for both women; the talker turned out to be B, and the eyes turned out to be Shannon. “Nice to meet you, Ladies. Ready for a few adventures?”
I sure was.