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More Than Meets the Eye

In an old episode of “The Cosby Show,” Cliff (Bill Cosby) agrees that son Theo can tag along when he goes to purchase a new family car.

In an old episode of “The Cosby Show,” Cliff (Bill Cosby) agrees that son Theo can tag along when he goes to purchase a new family car.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
Before they go, Cliff makes a point to change clothes. “You’re wearing that?” Theo asks him.
 
“Yes,” Cliff replies. “And whatever you do, don’t let the salesperson know that I’m a doctor.” He explains that if the salesperson concludes that he has a lot of money based either on his appearance or his vocation, he won’t be able to negotiate as good a price as he otherwise would.
 
It reminded me of my first car-purchasing experience. I knew exactly which car I wanted to buy, down to the color and options.
 
Once at the dealership, I immediately went and stood by the car most like the one I wanted, waiting for a member of the sales staff to join me. Finally, a man approached and asked if he could help.
 
“I want to buy a car like this,” I told him.
 
“Well, honey,” he said, “this one is probably way out of your price range. Why don’t I show you one of our economy models?”
 
Calling me “honey” was but his first mistake.
 
“You’re in no position to know what my price range is! I will buy a car like this, but it won’t be from you!” That said, I quickly left.
 
I subsequently purchased the car at a dealership about 30 miles out of town, but the first salesman’s illogical approach continued to bother me.
 
Perhaps, I thought, he was using reverse psychology and wanted me to prove that I could purchase that particular car. If that was the case, it didn’t work. I don’t appreciate being a pawn in anyone’s mind games.
 
What had actually happened, I surmised, is that he took one look at me and made all sorts of inaccurate assumptions. He decided based on my appearance that there was no way I could afford that particular car.
 
What he saw was a very young woman dressed plainly in jeans and not-so-new athletic shoes. What he didn’t know was that I had a good job and a businessman father who had helped me determine that I could indeed afford that car based on my salary.
 
Because I did not match his profile of success, he automatically dismissed me. His face-value judgment that day cost him a sale.
 
I don’t know if he learned a lesson from that experience, but I hope I did. The judgments we make based solely on appearances are always unfair and seldom complete or accurate.
 
We pay a high price when we judge people based on how we see them rather than how God sees them. But the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />kingdom of God realizes an even greater loss when our preconceived notions keep people out instead of inviting them in.
 
Jan Turrentine is managing editor of Acacia Resources.
 
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