I immediately knew what was going to happen after the third word, “Hey, I saw you the other day!” the strange voice coming up behind my husband and me said. It was someone who noticed me from a Shell station, Starbucks drive thru, traffic light, etc.
“You were pulling out of that hotel.” My face must’ve jolted her as much as her comment jolted me.
“I am sorry,” I replied, “I think for the first time in my life you have the wrong person.”
She continued looking back and forth between my husband and me with her eyebrows raised. Finally, she conceded that maybe she had been mistaken. When I turned to look at my husband I could see the curiosity in his expression and he definitely saw my creased brows.
To fill you in a little about me; you can’t really mistake me for someone else. Not in the small region of Baton Rouge and especially our suburban area of three small towns that encompass most of my daily activity. I have long, full (liberally full) blonde hair and I wear black suits the majority of the time. I always say I could never be accused of a crime because wherever I was at the time, even home, someone saw me there and can remember me.
Yet here I am.
“What hotel was it?” my husband asked her. She tiptoed through that question with “I am sorry, it must not have been her.” However, I could see the mischief in my husband’s eyes. “What hotel did you say it was?” he insisted playfully. My own husband was torturing me on purpose and I knew it!
“The one over here… umm, by the interstate.” She nervously spit out. I could see on her face what she thought and it terrified me. Still I drew a blank. I knew it wasn’t me. I also knew it wasn’t anyone else. Then abruptly the lady turned and walked away. Just about the time she was fully out of sight I saw the smile spread across my husband’s face.
I was frustrated to say the least.
“Starbucks.” He said through his laughter, “When you leave Starbucks you take a right because it’s too hard to take that left.” I nodded slowly and he waited until the recognition set in.
Some days, when traffic is heavy at that intersection, I know I’ll be sitting there for hours if I don’t just take a right and …turn around in a parking lot down the street. One that has an in and out so I can make the transition easily.
His laughter (from the inevitable mortification he knew I was going to feel at the idea of a stranger thinking I was cheating on my husband.) was quite annoying. “You let her think that about me?”
“Who cares what she thinks.” Oh, but he knew… he knew I would care.
When we relayed the story to our kids they also laughed. You would think that was funny, right? NO!
I hear it all the time; “I don’t care what people think?” But everybody cares about something. In my public relations office, where I’ve heard it said most often, I always answer with “You are here to reach a vast amount of people and to care what they think of you or your product. If you don’t care, then I can’t help you.” It’s that simple.
I hear rebels say it; but they wouldn’t be rebels if nobody cared about the fact that they don’t care. I hear musicians say it; yet they wouldn’t be playing for other people if they didn’t want others to be impacted by it. I hear Christians say it; yet they care what people think about the things they do because they (hopefully) care what people think about God.
There is a social standard. And while it varies for everybody, it ends the same way… we all, at some point or another, and about one subject or another, care what others think.
I am just ‘old fashioned’ enough to care about propriety. Do I care what people think about the way I raise my kids? Well, let’s see… You can tell me how to raise my kids, but it won’t do any good because I don’t care if you don’t like the way I raise my kids. However, I love hearing how great they are and what a great mother I am. Did I raise them for that reason? No. Do I like hearing it? Yes.
Keep in mind; I do not get mistaken for other people. There is no bowing out of anything through ‘mistaken identity’. So, yes I care what people think. The problem with caring what others think comes in if you are being dishonest to make them believe something about you that isn’t true. There is also a fine line in that statement because not everything I am is something everyone needs to know. So basically while I am not dishonest I am not quite the open book either. I believe that describes us all. That’s why we have a deeper relationship with our spouses, children, or closest friends. They know parts of us that others don’t. Anyone who rides in my car knows my iPod has a healthy dose of boy band love and songs about sex. Do I publicize that by making sure everyone around my vehicle can hear it? No. I love riding around with my windows down and music up, however when I stop near someone, the volume typically gets reduced.
Whatever it is, we all care about what somebody thinks about us on some level. My husband is the prime example; I seriously mean it when I say, for the most part, he truly and honestly doesn’t care about what other people think. FOR THE MOST PART. He is who he is, take it or leave it. However, he does care about what his children and I think of him. He cares about what different people think about different things; granted not many people or many things but it’s still there. He does care about what somebody thinks. Just as we all do. It’s healthy to care on some levels. It’s also healthy to not care on some levels.
If that woman, the one from the supermarket, ever comes across this I hope she laughs.
…Most importantly I hope she comes across this.