Let’s say—hypothetically—that someone has a funny looking bald head. Lumpy with wider rounding at the back than at the front. You assume this guy thinks he looks cool with a bald head because he shaves it himself and seems to have a chip on his shoulder. A chip so heavy it lowers his left shoulder by approximately one inch. Plus, he wears this leather motorcycle jacket (but doesn’t actually ride a motorcycle as far as you can tell). The little social judge in your head throws him immediately in the “douche” category. And you move on because that’s what you do. Who has time to get to know people, right?
And then later, let’s say 17 days after you’ve sentenced him to the loser/outcast section of your mind, you find out from a co-worker who takes smoke breaks with one of the Douche’s officemates that he’s bald because his hair never grew back after the chemo. You’ve got your poker face on but there’s a neon green sign of the word “DOUCHE” in your head with a blinking arrow pointing at a bad caricature of you. The following week you hear someone in the parking lot ask him where he got his leather. It was his brother’s. His brother who died during a second tour in Iraq. Your internal projection of yourself takes on homunculus proportions. You scurry to your car.
A week or so goes by without you seeing this man who you feel you’ve wronged. Misjudged. Then you and he are walking in to the building at the same time. You hold the door open for him. “Good morning!” you say. He sort of grunts. “You returning from business or pleasure?” you say. “Excuse me?!!” he says. Turns on you. Chest kind of puffed out. “I hadn’t seen you around the parking lot in a while,” you say. “Mind your own business, stranger.” He punctuates this with a kind of finger-pointing and walks away.