It is so easy for us to judge others, and I will admit that I am no saint when it comes to this. I wish I could erase it from my list of character flaws. If only it were so easy. But honestly, I believe the way we judge others is directly related to our perspective that has been developed through time. I was recently working at a Sports Medicine Clinic on the military base at Camp Pendleton and one morning I decided to park next to a group of Chevy and Ford pick-up trucks. Those same ones you often find pulling horses, hoisting big state and/or confederate flags, loaded with motorcycles or just playing in the dirt. These particular trucks were owned by young enlisted Marines that were visiting the clinic. My 1990 rusted, paint-peeling, no muffler, Chevy pick-up fit right in.
In this particular row there were three “Patient Parking Only” signs and three “Doctor/Nurse Parking Only” signs. The three trucks were in the patient parking spots and two of the other spots were also occupied (by some luxury cars), so there was only one spot remaining. I usually just park far away from the front, but today, and only today, I decided to park in this row. I did not even think about who could park in the spot. I would have gladly let some war fighting young Marine take one of the “Doctor/Nurse” spots. I hate labels, especially for parking and I wanted to remove the signs.
Throughout the morning, while periodically looking out the window at the beautiful day that was developing, I saw what appeared to be a pleasant lady examining my truck. I thought nothing of it. Perhaps she was a Chevy fan. But then around 1200, when the morning clinic ended, I went outside to get in my truck to head to the main hospital. As I walked around the front of the truck I found a note on the windshield. As I started to read it it appeared that I had upset somebody, and that my truck did not belong in the “Doctor/Nurse” spot, even though I was one.
At first I did not know what to think. The other cars had no special sticker or tag showing that they belonged to a doctor. One a BMW, another a Mercedes. And there were surely no notes on those cars. But my truck was different. It was worn and torn from end to end, rearview mirror missing, and to most it did not appear to be the mode of transportation for a physician. At least not in Southern California. If this was not judgment, then I don’t know what is. Of course, instead of just getting in and driving off, I had to confront the lovely lady. After all, she wanted an answer. She took one look at my uniform, my rank and the note in my hand. She looked embarrassed. I was just simply wanting to let her know that I was in fact allowed to park in the spot, even if my vehicle looked like it belonged to a different “type of person.” She quickly snickered with “Well, it looked like another young Marine had parked in one of those spots. You don’t typically see doctors or nurses driving those types of vehicles.” I just looked deep into her eyes. There were no words that needed to be said.
Judgment stinks. Next time you feel compelled to throw judgment at something, think twice. Try to be a bigger person, and try not to judge a book by its cover because what lies within its pages just might surprise you.