Terry was blue. Hair, skin, finger nails, lips were all shades of blue. He painted on blue scars onto his face. He was an imposing figure at 6’3”. His smile was a grimace, which revealed blue stained teeth. He appeared to be a most intimidating character. When I first met him, I asked “tell me, truthfully, is red your favorite color?” I received his grimace in reply. He was a sales associate in a store, and I would watch as customers were afraid to approach him. Yet, two elderly ladies dared move closer to him to make an inquiry, and they found that he was the nicest guy in the world. He loved talking to customers, and he was an engaging conversationalist. He was a gentlemen in his character, which his appearance belied.
As a teenager, I learned not to judge people by their looks by a wise art gallery owner. I wandered into her gallery one day, when I saw a painting that I thought was beautiful. Here I was in my “War is Over!” t-shirt and ragged jeans. My hair was long and curly. Not really the look of the other patrons, but the owner came over to tell me about the artist. I ended up purchasing the painting on lay-away. For years, I was a loyal customer. One day in the shop I witnessed what could best be described as a bum walking into the store. The owner knew him by name. She guided him through the new pieces, and he ended up buying a few pieces. After his departure, I asked about him. Why would she leave customers who seemed to have money for this individual. She said that the man had two passions in life: his garden and collecting art. He did both on the weekends, and he never cleaned up before going out, because he was going back to the garden later. When he first came to her gallery, she treated him as she did any client, which led him to buy.
On the job last week, a client drives up in a beat up old car. She was not in the most appropriate of attire. When the Realtor arrived, he kept making references to undertaking drastic remodeling to the home. I did my job, and I treated her as I would any other client. Later, after she had left, the Realtor came up to me and thanked me for treating her so well. He said that she might not look like it, but she was quite wealthy. She was difficult to please, but she was going to buy two homes. He thought that I might have been put off by what I was seeing. I told him that I would always do my best to treat my clients well. After all, they are paying the bills.
In my mind, I was recalling my friend the gallery owner and Terry. You just did not know who was going to be your best customer, or who might be the nicest guy in the room.