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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Judging A Book By It's Cover

Jen over at Redhead Ranting had blogged about her disappointment over having her Kids of Queers ad rejected. The reason given was ‘not relevant’. I’ve only had my ad rejected once and that was because that particular blog was leaving Entrecard. I must admit, each time I attempt to place an ad on a site new to me, I wonder if my ad will be rejected. Why? Because my site is open and honest about my being a lesbian.

Grandy over at Functional Shmunctional did a post on Sunday about the rejection and gave Jen some blog love.

So, in my own little way, I’m givin’ some blog love back to Grandy at Functional Shmunctional and Jen at Kids of Queers and Redhead Ranting. Great post Grandy!

It made me think of one of my experiences with Judging A Book By It’s Cover…

I worked for a couple of years for the Village of Glencoe. For those of you not familiar with Glencoe, it is a very upscale community where homes sell for millions of dollars. In fact, while I worked there, simple 3 bedroom ranch homes sold for over a million. Developers were snapping them up, demolishing them and building mcmansions.

From my first day there, until I left their employ, there was a woman who was a fixture there even though she didn’t work there. On days when the weather was fair and pleasant, she sat on the bench outside the Village Hall. When the weather was cold or inclement, she sat on a bench inside the Village Hall. She attended virtually every Village Hall meeting. Because the Village did not lock the doors to the building (it housed the Village offices as well as police, fire and paramedics) she could be found there any hour of the day. I had occasion to be there late hours at times, sometimes past midnight and she was still there, sleeping seated upright on the bench.

This woman appeared disheveled and unclean. Her clothing looked like rags. She looked like a bag lady. She carried bags full of belongings, books and papers and she sometimes pushed a 2 wheeled shopping cart. She appeared to be homeless. Some staffers greeted her good morning and good night, but mostly people walked past her as if she weren’t there. On occasion some staffers brought her food, but for the most part, she got by on her own.

She never panhandled that I noticed. She just seemed to want to be where the action was, where the people were. The Village Hall and the Public Library shared the same land space, with an area of grass and walkways between. People were always walking by for the library or to conduct business at the Village Hall.

The Village leaders, not wanting to mar their image as being an upscale community did not care for her residing on the bench in their hallway. At some point, just before I left their employ, the Village passed an ordinance that basically made it illegal to loiter on the premises of the Village Hall unless you had official business there.

I have to give the Village credit though, prior to passage of the ordinance, they did make every effort to help this woman. They had paramedics tend to a leg wound that wouldn’t heal. They contacted a family member out of state. They discovered that the woman owned a home in the Village, however it was in disrepair and was full of years and years of newspapers, trash and junk. For all intents and purposes, she was homeless, as her home was not in habitable condition. Village crews spent days clearing out the woman’s home and sought assistance from members of the community for the home repairs. Even after the ordinance was passed, in fair weather you would find her outside the Village Hall.

Prior to passage of the ordinance there was a story in the Chicago Tribune about the woman. I clipped a copy at the time, but I’ve since lost track of it. I tried searching online, but due to the passage of time perhaps, I was unable to locate it. Anyway, it turns out this woman was highly educated and highly intelligent, a former college professor.

Sadly, I never spoke a word to her. To be honest, and I’m ashamed to say it, I was a bit afraid of her. Growing up in a middle class suburb of Milwaukee, I had never encountered a homeless person close-up. How sad, because as the Chicago Tribune reporter discovered, this woman had lived a fascinating life and was more well read than most people you’ll ever encounter. She just really wanted to be out amongst people, rather than sit in her home alone. I realize at the time that I was quite immature and quite rude. I’ve grown up a lot since then. I’ve become my mother. (My Black Friday Or how I Know I’ve Become My Mother.) My mother would have engaged this woman each and every day. She would have said good morning and good night and chatted with her when she had a few free minutes. I’m willing to bet she would have brought her lunch every day too.

As I type this I can’t even imagine the fascinating conversations I could have had with this woman. As the saying goes, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Lola's Diner


Da Old Man said...

It is kind of funny how we all tend to do things like that--judge based upon first impressions.
As far as the ad, it was total silliness to reject it. I wonder if they held the same standards for every other ad.
I'm willing to bet they didn't.

Do you think they teach their children tolerance?

Megryansmom said...

Rest assured, I wouldn't reject your ads. How silly what does one thing have to do with another? Have a great evening.

Patricia said...

I would not reject your ad either. I have rejected some ads on Project Wonderful because they actually contained swear words.

Stacy's Random Thoughts said...

Very thought-provoking definitely cannot judge a book by its cover.

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