Snap judgement

I was at the beauty parlour the other day. I badly needed a haircut, and that morning was the only time available to me. I had cadged a lift from my husband and ended up at the parlour half an hour before the opening time. I knew I would be early, but who can turn down a lift?

As I sat on the stairs waiting for the establishment to open, I began to feel bored. I had forgotten to bring a book to read, and had nothing to do but look around. Since this place was located in a shopping plaza where most of the shops hadn’t opened their shutters either, this was easily accomplished and was not very satisfying. I cleaned my purse, but even that job was done too quickly.

Just then, a young woman appeared. Aha, I had company.  Like me, she too must have decided to come early. At least, now I had someone to talk to. I decided to make an overture of friendship, and so smiled genially in her direction and said ‘good morning!’ Oh, was I ever disappointed. She didn’t respond to my friendliness, she didn’t even look in my direction. She looked straight ahead and walked around the bend in the staircase where she could not be seen. I heard her set down her handbag and umbrella and could safely assume that she had sat down too.

I was disgusted and furious as well. What kind of person would not even show another the smallest courtesy of a smile?  Was it so hard to say a pleasant ‘good morning’ or exchange a few words about the weather?  All right, I am a friendly person, but I do understand that some people may not want to talk. How about just a ‘Hello’ instead? The woman’s dourness soured me. I began to speculate on her background. Probably she had a disgruntled husband and horrid kids as well. Who could be happy around her, hmmm?

The arrival of the owner of the beauty parlour broke into my thoughts, and I discovered something. When she began helping open the shutters, I realised that the dour woman was an employee there! That did put a slightly different slant on things, but still didn’t excuse her unnecessary reserve. I just hoped that I wouldn’t be stuck with her to do my hair.

Luckily, I wasn’t. The girls who did my haircut, manicure and pedicure were very chatty and I had a wonderful time being pampered. When I went to pay the bill, guess who was standing at the counter looking a magazine? You got it. It was my nemesis of the day. As I waited for my bill, I saw two other employees gesticulating furiously at her. Yes, I thought gleefully, “she is in trouble all right. They must be angry with her. Now let us see what happens.”

Just then, another employee came and touched her on the shoulder and pointed her toward the gesturing duo. That was when the truth hit me. The woman was a deaf-mute. My feelings of remorse are impossible to describe. There was only one way to atone for my boorishness. That day, I quit making snap judgements.

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