Saturday, February 2, 2013


Is there anything more beautiful than a good book?

I have always chosen books by their covers. I do remember wincing at the copy of Julie & Julia my sister lent me, complete with recommendation from Marie fucking Claire, and then thoroughly enjoying it, and am aware that sometimes books - particularly those written by women - are given covers they don't deserve. But life is short.

Yesterday I did my last ever (I think) interview with a prospective employee, in my current job. I've never felt like I'm particularly good at these interviews; I put the interviewees at their ease as quickly as possible, but then I lose my way a bit, and really just try to get to know them. I realised yesterday that this style of interview, of which my boss is a strong and long-time advocate, is precisely why her employees are a rare bunch; we/they are chosen primarily on how much she and I like them. It's funny how strange that sounds, and yet it works perfectly. The exchange that happens in my work between us and our customers is usually very brief. We have a few minutes at the most, in which time they form an opinion of us that completely influences how they feel about the shop; our ability to give a good impression is as important as our knowledge about what we're selling. Fitting in with the rest of the team is the difference between a united workforce and good morale, and a series of factions and bad feeling.

First impressions are crucial in a full and busy world, and while they are not quite cover-judging, they're not far off. We give out signals all the time; some of which we are aware, some of which we are not. We choose what to wear, and how to fix our hair... and we try to choose what we say. People are pre-disposed to some reactions; why should we want to spend our time proving them wrong?

After the interview, I thought about how I filter people, and how I make judgements. Some of them were perhaps a bit iffy: I have few blonde friends. The first two who come to mind are naturally blonde (that is, they don't lighten their hair at all). To me, choosing to be blonde (or any other hair-colour, really) when one is not naturally so says something important about who that person is, and what they value. My sister would say this is ridiculous, but she is less cynical and more generous then I am. Although when she gave me Julie & Julia, she did mention the cover...

I know covers can be misleading, and that I might miss out on some good books and some good people. But then I look around at my friends, and my husband; all of the people I chose... and I think Nup. We're good.

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