Expectations & Stereotypes (and rats)

So we're in the shop wiring up the '69 Bonneville last night. The guy that bought the bike, and commissioned me to build it up for him, has been coming by to help and learn through the whole process. He is having a great time in general and is learning a lot. Nice fellow.

Everyone wonders at times how they must appear to others, through someone else's eyes. I like to surprise people and shatter expectations. Defy classification. It's my policy.

So we get to talking about software/systems development on a conceptual and theoretical level and he realizes that I don't wrench for living. It turns out we agree on a lot of things and are both pretty serious about our commitment to quality work.

All the while, the music shuffler is cycling from Hank Sr., to Abbysinian Gospel Choir, to Howlin' Wolf, to Miles, to Talib Kweli, to chick music, to hillbilly music, to hippie music, to . . . you get the point. Mind fuck, likely.

We decide to head up to my apartment for a beer break as it's about 100F in the shop with no AC. From the first floor to the third floor is like moving from East New York to Park Ave. Shattered. Hidden utopias tucked into ghetto streets defy logic for some.

He takes it all in stride. Like everyone I respect, he has not visibly judged or assumed anything.

Buttoning up the new slick wiring job, a big-ass rat (I promised rats, yes?) boldly saunters past at strolling speed without even changing his course to cut a wider swath around us. He didn't even look our way to see if we were a threat. Dumbass.

John, one of my shopmates, says "Oh yeah, we picked up some pistols upstate this weekend, hang on . . . " and walks over to his box to pull out a pellet pistol. He hands it to me, I get on the floor so I can look under the Bridgeport where the rat was last seen to find him sitting a few feet away looking me right in the eye. I sighted him and took my shot. Got the fucker! Rakim (John's pit bull) runs over all excited to chase down the now twisting and writhing rat. He is jonesing to play with it but is perfectly trained to heed John's order to leave it alone. Rakim is shaking with excitement as he does all he can not to lapse in his discipline.

I take a mental step back to consider appearances and stereotypes.

Stereotypes don't grow in a vacuum. They are often based on some truths. They also are often based on appearances that appear to be truths, but are not. The fibers of truth and appearance (and the need to classify) that weave them into existence are fascinating.

Depending on who might have been watching, this scene might have appeared to be a room full of biker dirtbags playing with guns and drinking while their tough-guy dog ran around buck wild.

The people there know it as something else.

It's essence is unchanged, despite the audience.

I consider the conclusions I have made in my life and how I came to them. Carefully. And frequently.

Jason - August, 2005