Reality and Perception

I find it amusing when people I serve see me outside of the food court.

There are many people that I serve food on a regular basis, no matter which station at the food court I’m working. The same people eat at the same places every day. There are certain people that for the past two years I have known exactly what they are going to order, I just zone them out when they place it.

For some reason, however, these people don’t seem to realize that I am a person, and I have a life outside of my job.

My graphic design professor the other day talked about how “we don’t percieve him as a person, because we only see him in class.” He went on the explain that the brain psychologically places people in to groups based on where/how they see them. If a person were to see him outside of class, at the grocery store for example, then he would become a “real person” in their mind. I think this same rule applies to my customers at work.

Today was just a normal day for me, other than the fact that I spent about 30 minutes longer than usual trying to look extra
cute. Why? I have no idea. I think my body is trying to tell me that I’ll be single forever if I keep wearing band t-shirts and jean shorts every day. So, I walked out of my apartment ready to take on the world this morning, I had on a great dress, accessorized it perfectly, and was confident that I would kick-ass in all of my classes.

Then people started noticing me. First I thought something was wrong. Is my dress stuck in my underwear? Did I smear all my makeup? No, no, I couldn’t have done anything wrong. It seemed as if as I walked across campus people were staring me down. In the process of changing songs on my iPod, I walked straight in to one of my most frequent customers at work. After apologizing I realized he was looking at me quite puzzled.

“You’re Ellen, right? I don’t really remember with out your name tag.”

He was stunned. It was like he couldn’t believe I could be out in public, let alone wearing something other than an olive green tshirt and ugly black hat. He went on to tell me that he’d see me tonight when he came to get his usual Monday night pizza and we parted ways.

This evening when I took his order, he made more conversation with me. No one ever makes conversation with me at work. I must be a person in his eyes now.


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