Several things recently have caused me to seriously speculate on the question "What do people think about me," or, more to the point "what in the world were they thinking?"
1. At a church meeting between parents and our hired consultant on children's ministries, one couple who I've had contact with many times seemed to be shocked that I'm a technical/web/engineering* type. It wasn't just like "oh, that's what you do." It was more like "What?! You?! We had no idea." Weird. I'm curious as to what they thought I did.
* As a sign of respect to several of my good friends who actually went to an Engineering school, I note for the record that I am not, in fact, an engineer. I just play one on the Internet.
2. The owner of the company that I work for and I met up at the coffee machine the other day. He and I have had a great number of conversations over the last several years and run into each other several times a week. When he saw me getting coffee, his response was kind of shocked, like the aforementioned church goers. "You're a coffee drinker?" he said, a bit incredulous. Kind of like he'd just caught me skinning a live dolphin. "You're a dolphin skinner?" But then, we talked about shooting Democrats and stuff like that, so it was back to normal for us.
The odd thing about both of these instances, and what got me thinking, was that being a tech/web/geek person and drinking coffee are both perfectly normal, rather common things. The fact that both parties went out of their way to express surprise makes me really wonder what kind of profile they originally had of me.
3. And finally: It has been expressed by people close to me that when I am engaged in a verbal disagreement, my tone of voice and demeanor are the equivalent of someone about to jump headlong into a raging gun battle. And this is despite the fact that I very much enjoy
verbal sparring matches and argumentative point-for-point disagreement, and rarely if almost never actually become upset by them. Apparently the effect is so pronounced that even those who know me very well, and know the softishness in my heart, run for the hills when I get going.
So, what am I really? If you go by the perceptions of the people around me, I must be a caffeine-averse Luddite with a mean streak a mile wide and a penchant for shooting first and asking questions later. But we all know that's not true. Well, I know it's not true. I drink coffee and technology for breakfast, and don't harbor ill will toward almost any individual that I can think of.
I'm reminded of one episode of the Smurfs, where Brainy Smurf kept calling himself "Brainy Smurf, Friend To All The Animals." Of course, the animals weren't going for that crap at all, and kept running over him, smashing him in various ways, and giving lie to his repeated claims of friendship.
But am I poor deluded Brainy Smurf, declaring that I'm friend to all animals, or am I the animals themselves, stampeding over the ill-conceived notions of others?
I'm not sure, but I still wish there had been a Farty Smurf. That would have been funny.