Rietta had been inviting me over for lunch since I'd met her, but when I finally went last week, I could only wonder what had taken me so long. She loaded me up with barbecue leftovers, and we sat down and started talking work. Someone rang the doorbell, and when he walked in to join us Rietta introduced us - him as her son, me as her daughter, as she usually does. I looked at her "son" and the only way to properly describe him is as someone I'd probably cross the street to avoid if I had met him on the sidewalk. Tattooed, etc. He joined us for the rest of lunch, and as we sat in the sparse kitchen, Rietta and I gossiped about teachers. She mentioned one teacher in particular that she's had a few issues with, and told me this; it's stuck with me since: "I'm not trying to be in anyone's business. I just want to know what you brought for lunch."
It's a lesson I wish people could take to heart - if only everyone could be so open-minded, the world would be a better place. If someone took a snapshot of where I was having lunch, and the tattooed tire man that joined Rietta and I (who, as it turned out, has a daughter at the middle school I work at), I can only imagine what comments there might be. Judgments about the neighborhood, the house, the company, and in this day, the food. The lesson I learned that day is you really can't judge a book by its cover - any book, ever. The tattooed tire man, by the end of lunch, offered to make Tdap phone calls for me for the Spanish speaking parents - as a volunteer. Rietta sent me home that day with enough food to feed me for days, and a quote to keep in mind for much longer. I don't care who you are, let's get along and share lunch. Don't judge people by where they live, what they look like, how they talk, or what they eat. Bon appetit.