Next post in this mini series of guest bloggers comes from my friend Paul…
He writes at Thoughtfullyprepping
A true story of trusting your gut.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover“, said my dad.
As I commented on two hippy’s walking along in front of us holding hands.
Way I saw it was two boys, or girls (difficult to tell from the back), but the same sex.
That was something I wasn’t entirely comfortable with.
Then they turned to cross the road.
One hairy faced male was wearing a priests collar, the other was a blind girl being led to safety.
“OK, got that dad, don’t be so quick to judge”.
Yet in later years I found myself having to make a judgement about people as I worked with various security agencies in public venues across the world. Only what worked in the UK didn’t work in deepest darkest Europe, or Singapore, or Hong Kong.
Culture and tradition can cause all kinds of ‘misunderstandings’ without language adding to the mix. The science called Body Language doesn’t even touch the nuances of personal behavior at those times and you have to ‘trust your gut’ most of the time.
Now I’m old school security and also trained in profiling.
‘Groan’, I can hear it now, ‘stereotyping groups to draw a conclusion’.
‘That’s wrong and sometimes positively nasty!’
Yet it works in the main so ‘lump it’ is my usual response to criticism.
Only it can go spectacularly wrong!
For instance, I was helping access control at a wedding.
Big affair, diamonds and champagne, the worlds beautiful people, and of course with money and egos to match.
Simple job. With an invitation, you got in.
Right, profiling criteria begins.
Diamonds, beautiful people, obvious money, and that inherent arrogance that group seem to have. Plus of course the beautifully printed invitation (Gilt printing, NICE).
Only this little old man with a REALLY badly fitting suit, mop of hair that looked like it had been arranged by the local cat, and dirty shoes comes up. No invitation. Quietly spoken, mild, almost embarrassed in his manner.
Simple, eh? “Nope, you’re not coming in”.
“But if you call my daughter over she will vouch for me.”
Daughters name was the newly married.
I’m thinking “Stranger things have happened!”
So leaving the little old man with our pet Hulk, the daughter was summoned.
Yep, you’ve guessed it, it was her dad.
Still he did thank me for being so careful and considerate.
Feeling like a complete pillock I went back to the gate.
That was the first time ever I’d got it wrong.
My boss wasn’t upset, the right thing had been done.
Only up comes a little old lady.
Scruffy, same hair dresser aka the cat, looking like a bag lady.
No invite and claiming that her son would vouch for her.
What’s the chances of two in a row?
450 to one (the number of guests present) I later calculated.
Once again the name proffered was one of importance and once again they were summoned.
Now I never gamble, but professionally I KNEW this one was a ringer!
No way in hell was I letting this one though.
On the other hand the boss didn’t want another ‘incident’ so despite my objections I was sent to get the named person.
Mr. Big comes marching up.
Ever noticed that about some rich people?
Big movements to match their pompous ego.
Only the little old lady kept her back to him until he was almost right up to her.
Then she turned around, whipped off the wig, and gave him an envelope muttering those immortal words, “Court bailiff, consider yourself served!”
The place went into an uproar.
The bride broke down, the groom socked his new brother in law (Mr. Pompous) and a full on fight ensued, and during all that I’m propped up against the wall laughing remembering my dad’s immortal words.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover”.
Oh boy dad, you never, ever, worked security!