Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover

I am pretty sure that most of us have seen or heard this idiom. It is also probably a safe bet to say that many of us have either been on the receiving end of a quick judgement, or perhaps have even made one. In a nutshell, the expression means that you shouldn’t use someone’s appearance to judge what they know, what they are like, the quality of their character, or what they are worth. All of this can of course be summed up using another popular idiom: “Looks can be deceiving!”

There are times when we might have been too quick to judge someone or something, and while this may not have led directly to someone’s feelings being hurt, it is always better to reserve one’s judgements until we have had ample opportunity to assess everything before jumping to conclusions. However, if you have done your due diligence and still come up with the judgement that a particular someone is an a-hole…Well, so be it!

There is also a somewhat unusual circumstance though, where people may be judged by their outward appearance, they are not aware this has taken place, and another person benefits from others’ hasty judgements. I have not only witnessed this first-hand but was also the lucky beneficiary.

Many years ago, 1968 to be exact, I was working in a popular jewelry store in downtown Montreal. It was a part-time job that my father had gotten for me, as he was a jewelry salesman and the store in question was one of his clients. This was a busy store selling everything from cheap costume jewelry to expensive diamond rings, watches, and everything in between. This was a rather prestigious store with long-standing fairly wealthy customers, and I was by far the youngest staff person (18). My colleagues, both women and men, were at least 35-45 years older! To say that I stuck out behind the counter is definitely an understatement!

Despite the fact that this took place 54 years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday, because it was a life lesson, related to the idioms above, that has stuck with me. It was a bitterly cold Saturday in December about two weeks before Christmas. The store had been crazy busy the whole day and all of us behind the counters had been going non-stop. It was about 4PM, an hour before closing, when this couple (husband and wife, I would later learn) walked into the store. They were wearing somewhat dirty jeans and had on matching lumberjack-type jackets, gaudy-looking scarves, and matching knit beanies. Since most of the clientele were dressed in suits and cloth topcoats or dresses and furs, they stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb. The couple were oblivious to the stares from both customers and staff and headed towards the costume jewelry counter. From the corner of my eye, I could see all my older colleagues immediately feign busyness so that they wouldn’t have to engage the couple. I felt a little embarrassed by what I was seeing, so I walked right up to the couple and asked them if there was anything I could help them with. The looks form my colleagues all communicated the same sentiment: Why are you wasting your time?

I wish we had pocket cameras back in 1968 because I would have loved to have taken a photo of my colleagues faces when after approaching the couple (who as it turns out were just killing some time looking at the cheap stuff until someone approached them) asked me to show them matching his & hers diamond-encased Rolex watches! By the time I was finished with them, they walked out of the store with two watches, and I wracked up a $5,000+ sale, on which there was commission. That may not seem like a great deal of money, but in 2022 dollars it was a $42,550 sale! Turns out they were dressed that way because they were truck drivers who also happened to own the rather large trucking company they drove for. Unbeknownst to me, the manager of the store and a good friend of my dad’s witnessed the entire string of events from when the couple walked into the store until they left. My colleagues were all standing around with their mouths hanging open when Roger came out of his office and told them all (pointing at me) that this 18-year-old just taught you all a very valuable lesson!

Los Angeles 2022

4 thoughts on “Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover

  1. Good old Roger. He taught me a lesson too. He saw me wrapping a gift but using the paper’s underside, so that the store’s logo wasn’t visible. He adeptly understood that I was embarrassed by the logo. He basically called me out as a snob – nailed!


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