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What You See Is Not Always What There Is

Updated on February 17, 2014

Don't judge a book by it's cover

As we go about our daily lives while observing our fellow man, we, at times, tend to think that what we see on the surface is the real person. Take for instance, when we see a person driving a luxury car, we think he must be living well, or at the very least he must make enough money to afford it. The house in which a person resides, does it convey a particular message, maybe it appears to indicate how much a person earns, or what his priorities are? Think too, when we see the style of dress of an individual, we surmise if they are dressed that way, it must indicate the type of person they are. Then there's the person who's always smiling, you're thinking, oh, she must be real nice. What about the person who has, what appears to be, a perpetual scowl? Perhaps you see what you think is a person frequently under the influence. Oh yes, and what about a person's ethnicity. All the situations mentioned herein, can be interpreted in various ways. Let's see how.

What do we see

Let's look at these situations individually. First, take the person driving a luxury vehicle, maybe he is just who you think he is, someone who can really afford that vehicle. On the other hand, he could be living well above his means, perhaps it was a gift, maybe he was once able to afford the vehicle, it's paid for and he prefers to keep it. What about the man driving the old, dare I say rundown, but running car? Do you remember the now deceased billionaire, Sam Walton of Walmart fame? He always drove a pickup truck that was quite a few years old. You see, some individuals priorities are, not to reveal their financial status by what they drive. Need I say more?

Then there's the big house on the hill, or the "tiny" two bedroom apartment in what is commonly called the "'hood," oh, and don't forget about the house on wheels in the trailer park? Sometimes the house on the hill is what it seems, a rich man's house, other times it could be one that was bought and paid for years ago, and the occupant feels, why move somewhere else, after all it has sentimental values, or consider this, he just might not be able to afford it, again living above his means. The apartment in the "hood," could, on one hand be all that a person can afford, maybe the person likes apartment living, or, he could just like living in familiar surroundings. What about living in a trailer park. For some, it is an affordable retirement home, others might prefer the independence of living without a mortgage or related upkeep, or this might be all a person could afford. Whatever, if it is of concern, why not ask, (I'm just saying), You know, some people don't mind telling you why they live where they live. On the other hand you might be told, it's none of your business, and it might just well be.

Let's look at how a person dress. Some prefer to buy the most expensive clothes in the store, whether they can afford them or not. This just could be their weakness. Then there's the person who dress down, but neat and clean, what message might they be sending, maybe, they feel that clothes don't make the man, or woman. What about those who use clothes for personal expressions, such as rebelling against society, or some just don't care how they dress?

When I was employed in a high end department store, we were told not to judge a person by the way they dress. I had a co-worker who said, she had a customer who, looked as if she could ill afford anything from that store, and everyone else in the department looked the other way. She followed the company's rule of never looking down on anyone, and approached the customer. The end results was, the customer spent over $1000.00 with her. To top it off, she worked on commission, (enough said). Have you ever seen Pretty Woman, with Julia Roberts, the scene where she went into the fancy boutique, on Rodeo Drive, in Beverly Hills, California, dressed like a lady of the evening, because that's what she was? Well, the ladies looked down their noses at her, and sent her packing. Later that week she went back in the store dressed in an obviously very expensive outfit, holding up her shopping bags, from the other luxury boutiques, and asked the saleslady if she worked on commission, after the saleslady affirmed that she did, Julia Roberts held up her bags and voiced my favorite line, "big mistake, big mistake, huge mistake." I've always wanted to say that, LOL!

Have you seen the person who's forever smiling, who appears, on the surface to be the nicest person alive. But once they open their mouth, their tongue is sharper than any two edged sword, "you open your mouth, they jump down your throat, and cut you down to size," all the while displaying that 100 watt smile. Of course that smile could indicate that the person is really nice. Then, you have the person who never actually smiles. Does that mean that they are not a nice person. Maybe, or maybe not. It could just mean that they were brought up that way. But upon becoming acquainted with them, you find them to be the nicest person you know, they would give you the shirt off their back, if asked.

What about the individual called the neighborhood drunk. Have you ever tried approaching that person. There are illnesses that resemble the inebriated state. Even if they are the "neighborhood drunk," what happened, why did they become such? Sometimes just looking beneath the covers, we may find a different person than we see on the surface.

One of the most controversial aspects of this subject, is that of ethnicity. It's unfortunate, that we tend to focus on race, creed, or color. In some areas of society your ethnicity indicates your rank or standing in society, and as such, you may be considered, the smartest, the least or the most intelligent, the laziest, the most evil, the most humane, the cruelest, the least or most well off, the best athlete, the best entertainer, and the list goes on. In looking more closely, most of these stereotypes have proven to be untrue. In other words, in this situation, judging a book by it's cover can be very deceiving.

An Observed Example

I have an example of not judging a book by its cover, that I was privy to. During this particular time I was self-employed, I had a fellow business associate,who came into what I like to call "new money", by virtue of his business acumen. He, at one time carried on his person 25,000 dollars at all times. I often warned him that it was unsafe, he eventually ended that practice. I digress. Once, while in the market for a new automobile, he went shopping with his customary 25k on his person. Oh, did I mention he was a minority. He went to a luxury used auto lot, and asked the cost of a newer luxury automobile, the salesman, being what I would call a bonehead, haughtily said, you guessed it, 25k, (not). Anyway, my associate said, going along with what seemed to be, the joke, "you sure." Salesman Bonehead, "yeah, for 25k cash out the door, you can drive off the lot right now. Businessman, "if you're serious, write me up." Bonehead, with a smirk said, "okay, I'll do that," of course you know there were witnesses, all standing around getting in on the "joke." After the contract was partially written up, Businessman said once more, "are you sure, now?" Bonehead, "sure, see, I'm writing up the contract. (Slow day I guess). Businessman unzipping his waist pack, pulled out the whole 25k and lays it on the desk to seal the deal. Bonehead pleaded with Businessman to pay the real price, but no dice, a deal is a deal. There is more to the story, but, suffice it to say, Businessman got his auto for only 25k out the door. Okay, now this really happened, not one of my made up scenarios.

The Moral

So, before you pass judgement on someone as to why they do what they do, or look like they look, give it a second thought, and remember, DON'T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER, OR MAYBE, WHAT YOU SEE IS NOT ALWAYS WHAT THERE IS!

© 2009 Alfreta Sailor


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    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 3 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks Pamela, I also haven't been around much either. The laptop I'm currently working on isn't the best, so I'm not inspired to write very much. After I published my book I kind of fell by the wayside anyway. I did include this article in the book. I'm currently working on a website I created. So a combination of all these things have kept me away from HubPages.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 3 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      I enjoyed this older hub of yours. It's definitely ever green. It's so true that we can't judge a book by its cover and neither should we be judging. And if we try not to judge or assess at all, life's a much better trip. I haven't been around much for awhile (again) and I'm not sure if you have been, but it's nice to see some familiar names and faces. Voting up and sharing.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 6 years ago from Southern California

      Yeah I like the photo too, and it can fit an array of circumstances. Thanks SallyTX, hope to see you again soon.

    • SallyTX profile image

      Sally Branche 6 years ago from Only In Texas!

      Great thoughts and one of the classic photos of all time! Voted up and awesome! ;D

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 7 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks trevzooms for the validation. I see that all the time, people with luxury cars unable to repair them, it's then that they reveal their true status. Hey, come back to visit us someday. Thanks for stopping, I'll see you soon.

    • trevzooms profile image

      trevzooms 7 years ago from Honest within myself

      Hi fastfreta, from chilly England (U.K.). You've told it like it is. I had the misfortune to meet a Porche driver in a pinstripe suit in London once. He parked his car into the back of my stationary car but had no money to pay for the repairs. I loved California on a visit all those years ago. Good read.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Why thank you 2uesday, likewise. Thanks for stopping. Come back now.

    • 2uesday profile image

      2uesday 8 years ago

      I love the way you write fastfreta.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks Micky Dee, you're great. I appreciate you stopping by and reading my hubs. Please check back soon.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 8 years ago

      Hi there FF. I really enjoyed this one. Thank you so much. I love your stuff.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Thank you so much Chris, I certainly appreciate you for stopping by and reading my hubs.

    • christalluna1124 profile image

      christalluna1124 8 years ago from Dallas Texas

      Wonderful article freta,

      You are so down to earth and full of feelings. I love your articles.


    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Thank you Duchess, I am honored that you stopped by. Please come again.

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 8 years ago

      I like this hub. It is an honest approach to an often "touchy" subject. Good job. It' never a bad thing to be reminded of where we can improve, or how we can be better people. This does just that.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Thank you Norah and Hello, hello. Norah, I hope anyone reading this, hub and comment, that might have that opinion of someone like you, will give them a chance, and not judge before getting to know them. Thank you both for stopping by and leaving your comment. Hope to see you both soon.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

      My thoughts and opinion exactly. Nice to read that other people also think so. Great Hub, great writing.

    • norah73 profile image

      norah73 8 years ago from San Manuel, AZ

      Nice hub. I am the one with a scowl on my face all of the time. I have been told this on many occasions by different people. It is usually because I am deep in thought and I have intense dark brown eye's. I am really not mad all the time. Once again good writing. Nice flow.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks june688, for stopping by, and for that bit of wisdom. Come back again soon.

    • june688 profile image

      june688 8 years ago

      Most of the time we look at the person and set our mind accordingly. We just don't try to know his inside. Which could be totally opposite to outer appearance.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks ashleyr for stopping by and your comment. Come back again soon.

    • profile image

      ashleyr24 8 years ago

      I think everyone has an experience,where a person seemed to be one way and turned out to be someone totally opposite. Great HUB Fastfreta, you definitely drove the point home.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks ameliehub, so much for your comment, come again soon.

    • ameliehub profile image

      ameliehub 8 years ago from UK

      A very true hub. Thanks for picking up the topic and exploring it. Most of the time we look at the person and set our mind accordingly. We just don't try to know his inside. Which could be totally opposite to outer appearance.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Thank you again Lady E. Will be seeing you again soon.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 8 years ago from London, UK

      A very interesting Hub. Its a valuable lesson. Sometimes the people we look down on end up being the people who help us. Sometimes, its the other way round, where you see someone who you think butter wouldn't melt in their mouth but they turn out to be Jezebel. lol. That scene in Pretty woman is one of my favourites.:)

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks alekhouse for stopping by. You're one of those rare intuitive individuals that pays attention to and acts on your intuition. That's a good thing. Keep it up.

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 8 years ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Hey Freta, Really enjoyed your hub. I try so hard not to judge people by what I see, but sometimes it's not always as easy as it sounds. You don't always have the time to get to know someone on a more intimate level. And I've found at times, where I have suspended judgment, my first intuition turned out to be right.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Thank you Feline Prophet for stopping by. Please come back soon.

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 8 years ago

      How true fastfreta...appearances are often deceptive, and that should teach us not to be too quick to judge a person or situation!

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Thanks create a page, I'll anxiously await your new hub.

    • create a page profile image

      create a page 8 years ago from Maryland, USA

      fastfreta I started writing a hub about judging too, which I hope to complete this weekend. Great minds think alike, right?

      A great hub. I like the scenario between the salesman and your friend. It's a perfect example to use.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 8 years ago from Southern California

      Oh, BK, how could I have forgetten that aspect of it, that should have never been overlooked, thanks for adding it.

      Oh, my thank you James, there's another thing I could have included in my hub. WOW! This is a very thought provoking topic.

    • James Ginn profile image

      James Ginn 8 years ago from Ohio

      I think we all wear masks, to a degree. As a police chaplain I am tasked with giving death notices to families of those who have passed-on in traffic accidents and other nefarious means. I have to maintain a professional poise when I actually want to break down, cry and run away.

      There is a man who died a few years back and it was thought he was a pauper. He would walk around town, collecting scrap and selling it to junkyards. He lived by himself, in a hovel near a wooded area. Nobody showed up at his funeral. There was no money found on his person or at the scene of his natural death. A search of his personal papers indicated he had $640,000 in an out-of-state bank. There you go.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      How often do we hear of some evil horrible disgusting murderous person finally being arrested while being caught in the act - but folks will still defend him. Based totally on the 'cover' of that person. How he looks, where he lives, what he drives. If he looks 'right' then he cannot possibly be guilty.

      I think part of the US problem is that we are only consumers - that's our sole purpose in this economy - and we are taught to buy what 'appears' to be great, beneficial, healthy, necessary - but it is all superficial. Finally, often too late, we are finding out that all these glittery products are toxic.

      Maybe we'll get it together one day, fastfreta.


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