Thinking Out Loud

July 11, 2013

Strange Biases and Prejudices

Filed under: ethics, relationships, writing — Tags: , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:31 am

The first job I got at 15 was in a large department store that employed hundreds of people. One day while I was working on the 2nd floor, someone needed to contact a girl who was working at the first floor checkouts. Since there were six people working there, they asked me to describe her.

I described her in detail; her height, what she was wearing, her hair color and length, and the person went off in search of her. A few minutes later they came back and said — and these are the exact words — “Why didn’t you just say she was black?”

For the next several weeks, I somewhat prided myself in the fact that my brain registered her simply as a person, and not that she was African American (or more accurately, African Canadian).  I had gotten to know her well enough that her race just wasn’t a factor.

But years later, I was aware of more subtle prejudices that had crept into my life. The main one, I’m ashamed to say, was red-haired people who were left handed. Yes, I knew several of them. And this was years before “kick a ginger” was fashionable. I don’t exactly where it came from, though in middle school, I was (somewhat mildly) beat up in a school restroom by a guy with red hair, though I never asked him if he was right-handed or left-handed. You just don’t think of things like that at the time.

I don’t honestly know how the two traits blended to form one profile, but eventually, I got over it.  (The sound you’re hearing is all my left-handed and red-haired readers unsubscribing.)

Growing up in Toronto, there were all sorts of stereotypes concerning bad drivers.

  • one particular gender (can you guess?)
  • one particular race (“they don’t get in accidents, they cause accidents”)
  • cars from one particular province (bet you have this in the U.S., too)
  • persons driving particular models of car (it varied)

Of course, the more of the above factors you combined into one driver the more you wanted to avoid them.

But like my situation with the girl at the department store, I prided myself in not being consumed by these stereotypes, even though I suspected that the anecdotal evidence bore some truth.

black truckBut then, several years ago, I did latch on to a new driver stereotype, and one which I am guilty of as I write this: people with black pickup trucks. I maintained — and still do — that ownership of a black pickup is as much about an attitude as it is about the vehicle. I count the times we’re passed on the freeway by aggressively driven black pickups. (My wife notes how I seem oblivious to people in other types of vehicles who go speeding past.) I think this one traces back to a neighbor who I was convinced tried to run me off the road a few times in his Chevy truck. Or maybe it was a Ford pickup. I don’t really know.

I still maintain that a person could not — not even in Texas — be a Christian and drive a black pickup truck. The two attitudes are completely incompatible. (But having biases and prejudices and being a Christian, is obviously something I do not have a problem with.)

We’re supposed to love people. So I endeavor to do that. “Love the driver, hate the truck.”  Yeah, that’s what I say.

So my wife informs me that several months ago the pastor bought a black pickup.

As long as I haven’t actually seen it, I’ll maintain there’s no way that could be true.

Do you have any unusual biases against certain people?


  1. I live in North Carolina, and I grew up in Georgia. I believe people with South Carolina license plates cannot drive. They also have bad roads in South Carolina as well.

    Comment by Joe G. — July 11, 2013 @ 8:15 am

    • There you go. Already, I don’t feel so bad!!

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — July 11, 2013 @ 8:23 am

      • Funny part, when I say something about S.C. drivers while my wife is in the car with me, she says “well if people base their opinions of Kentucky (we still have our tags there) drivers, then they think very low of them.”

        Comment by Joe G. — July 11, 2013 @ 8:57 am

  2. As pick-up drivers….we are just easier to identify and the size of the vehicle is more intimidating on the roads. Funny, we take note of the souped up cars that pass us driven by a very specific demographic, along with the very specific demographic driving 2-wheeled vehicles that zip between lanes of speeding cars and trucks. As with everything, it is a matter of perspective, and comfort.

    Comment by mj — July 11, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

    • I get that totally. My wife drives a bright red car and she was told to always watch her speed because red cars always look like they’re going faster.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — July 11, 2013 @ 12:26 pm

  3. We have a grandson who is a ‘ginger’ and he is ambidextrous so you are really in trouble;) I can relate to your thinking about people with black trucks. I just had that very thought last night at 11:15 as a black truck flew past me on County Rd. 18 on a solid line. I deal with them as I go to work at 6:30 a.m. as well…sitting on my back bumper and waiting for a chance to pass…doesn’t matter if it’s in the centre of a village where the speed limit is 60 kmh.

    Comment by Issy — July 12, 2013 @ 8:28 am

  4. Can’t stand zombies … they mess up your car flying over the hood, are totally unengaged when you try and talk to them and if you DO get to know them, you discover that they’re just in the relationship for themselves and try to feed on your brains and innards.

    Comment by Flagrant Regard — July 12, 2013 @ 1:49 pm

  5. I once had VERY bright auburn hair. Although now it is more sandy blonde, I still consider myself a redhead . . . but no, I haven’t unsubscribed.

    For many years I couldn’t stand to look into brown eyes, especially dark brown eyes. I know where that originated, but it wasn’t fair to think that anyone with his eyes was as evil as he. Thankfully, that no longer happens. I don’t THINK I have biases about any particular type of person – at least none that come to mind.

    Comment by meetingintheclouds — July 14, 2013 @ 11:05 pm

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