This abandoned grocery store made me laugh and think about how life would be different if we knew exactly what was inside. Who in their right mind would shop at an Iffy Grocery store? No one would shop there as we can totally understand what we might encounter by entering the door. The sign tells us everything.
What if people had to wear a sign around their neck explaining their best and worst qualities? There are signs that would read liar, cheat, addicted to video games, health food nut, or maybe even laughs at everything. Other signs might read too hard on themselves, unlikely to follow through, willing to help, or some people may need a sign that reads handle with care.
We could know when people were really hurting, needed assistance, or when they simply wanted to be left alone. We would know what was going on in the heads of our teenagers, the thoughts of our siblings, or those who were recovering from a broken heart. Maybe the signs could tell us their allergies, that they don’t like beets, or maybe that they enjoy rice enough to eat it at every meal. How great would it be to see something like arrogant, self righteous, patronizing, or kind to animals? Before we date we could see a sign like uses women, emasculates men, helicopter parent, or neglectful father. The signs could tell us whatever we needed to know to best interact and understand that other person, and protect ourselves from future harm.
The danger would be that we treat people according to a few facts instead of getting to know the person underneath the sign. We all have flaws, habits, traits that not everyone would like, and everyone makes mistakes. So to label us by a few words or phrases could cause more friction than solutions. Yet we do it all the time. We make assumptions and decide how to treat people simply by the way they look or because of one interaction or mistake we have observed. We put people in boxes because it is easier, takes less time, and we then know how much to invest in getting to know them. It makes life clean and simple. Boiling someone’s identity down to a few words takes away the mess but leaves in it’s wake an endless sea of walking wounded.
So what would your sign say? What mistake have you made that you would never want to impact how others treat you? What habit or trait, like or dislike, unkind word or personal flaw do you manage in silence to avoid the unwanted attention other people knowing could provide? We are all human and no one is perfect. We all have something we would rather forget and positive traits we want people to savor. A few words can never label all that we are, even if they are true. People aren’t that simple.
So let’s forget the signs and work harder to pay attention, listen more and talk less, and project the best that we are and leave behind our worst mistakes. If we can do that then let’s assume others can do it as well.