Judging Books by their Covers

On my flight home for another funeral in North Carolina last weekend, I got another lesson in why you never judge a book by it's cover.

On the connecting flight from Atlanta to Charlotte a gentleman sat down next to me. He was dressed in his spiffy Delta Airlines uniform. He was a flight attendant. His hair was longish, wavy, and perfectly coiffed. His clothes were perfectly pressed. Expensive shoes. His impeccable appearance was certainly a credit to Delta Airlines.

Once he got situated, he reached down into his carry-on bag and pulled out a pair of horn-rimmed reading glasses from a case that looked to be made from an exotic skin of some kind. It struck me as the kind of case that a rich, old woman might carry around. He then bent back down pulled out an iPad and plugged in a pair of earbuds, crossed his legs and began surfing through videos. I was not really paying a lot of attention to him. I had formulated an opinion of him just based on outward appearance.

I was finishing up a book on my tablet, not really paying the man any intention, when out of the corner of my eye I noticed something I didn't expect. There, on the video the man was watching, was a man in a suit with a pair of white gloves holding a rifle. It kind of surprised me. So the first thing that went through my mind was this must be some kind of skit or some anti-gun video making fun of gun enthusiasts. But as I watched a little further it appeared to be a documentary about the small arms of World War I. The video cut back and forth between reenactments of combat scenes to the man wearing the white gloves who demonstrated the operation of the weapon and pointed out various features of it.

So, I assumed, this guy must be a history buff. Interesting. So I go back to reading and think no more of it.

The next time I look up, though, I'm confused. This time I see a different video. No more World War I combat reenactments or demonstrations of World War I firearms. There, mouthing words that I cannot hear, is the bald head and goatee of Rob Pincus.

So I've completely stopped reading at this point and I am not-so-surreptitiously looking at this gentleman's iPad, trying to figure out what it is that he is watching. And, sure enough, he's watching Personal Defense Network training videos. I don't remember specifically which videos but I did see Rob at different ages, with different amounts of facial hair, and different amounts of gray hair, instructing classes, working with students, working with another instructor to demonstrate techniques, and demonstrating techniques himself. The gentleman next to me was obviously a subscriber.

I smiled to myself thinking, “Okay, lesson learned. I've misjudged this guy completely.”

When the flight landed in Charlotte and everyone was preparing for the “all clear” signal that we can take our seat-belts off, I decided to speak to him. I said “Hey, I couldn't help but notice you are watching Rob Pincus's Personal Defense Network videos.” I told him I was hoping to take one of his classes in January. He responded excitedly, “Really? Which one? The one in Texas?” I said yes and he proceeded to encourage me to take the class and told me how great it was. He had taken the class recently in St. Augustine, Florida, and talked about what a great experience it was. He bragged about the instructors and the course itself, and about Rob and his teaching style.

“He's not as polished as he is in the videos,” he said. “He drops the F-bomb a lot, so be prepared.” We talked a bit more, shook hands and went our separate ways.

This flight attendant didn't fit the stereotype. He didn't look like you would expect, but he is definitely one of us. I felt embarrassed that I made the assumptions about him that I did and I'm really glad that I spoke to him. Wish I had spoken up sooner. Would have made the flight go by faster.

The moral of today's story? Don't judge a book by its cover. I formed an opinion of this gentleman based on outward appearances entirely. And, as it turned out, he was a gun guy like you and me and like millions of other Americans. The fact is that the people of the gun come in all shapes and sizes, all ages, all races, sexes, and religions. You never know when you might run into one.

1 Comment on "Judging Books by their Covers"

  1. You never really stated what opinion you had formed about the man. You described his personal appearance, what he was wearing, what he was carrying, etc. but never really stated what you thought of all that.

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