Purple dinosaur earrings and other telling detailsPosted: November 18, 2013
The other day at my restaurant day job, three young women came in for dinner. They asked for their waitress friend to serve them — let’s call the waitress Madison because that’s her name. Madison wasn’t working that day, though. When she heard that her friends ate at her workplace, she asked which server they got.
The friends reported that they didn’t remember their server’s name, but she was wearing purple dinosaur earrings.
“Oh, that’s Heidi,” Madison instantly said.
The details of someone’s appearance can be really distinctive. I don’t mean the details they can’t control, like their body type or face shape. No, I mean the telling ways they arrange themselves. The colours they like to wear. Whether they always look clean and pressed, or they usually look like they’ve just rolled out of bed. Whether their accessories are personally meaningful or just one of a hundred trinkets in their roster. We make a lot of minor decisions when we pick what to wear. Those decisions aren’t just items on a visual checklist: those decisions tend to reflect who we are.
And my purple dinosaur earrings are distinctive enough that they stand out in my coworkers’ minds. When Madison told this story and got to “purple dinosaur earrings”, the other servers knowingly grinned. Heidi likes vivid shades of purple, and awesome stuff like dinosaurs. When those two things combine, even better! Awesome purple dinosaurs! I like to think that if Heidi the waitress were a book character, those earrings would imply a lot about who she is — more than a laundry list of her height, weight and hair colour.
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