Last night I saw the last few minutes of a segment on Seven Sharp which was something to do with gangs -it  seemed to be a positive piece about people making changes for good. One of the woman who spoke was a good library customer of mine before I moved roles 3 years ago. Rae said she makes sure she tells her kids she loves them every day. I was proud of her for talking about her childhood, and for being a positive role model for her kids.

It made me think about the snap judgements we make. I wrote a bunch of stuff but then thought about my Council, people’s privacy, where I live etc and ended up with redacted redacted redacted.

But I can say this. Some of the most prolific readers I have ever served are women, with slightly older kids, in relationships with gang members. Some of the older teens who work night shift at the works, from gang families, used to spend their ‘evening’ at the library quietly playing their guitars. When our xBox got nicked, a local gang member spotted it in someone’s house in another town and bought it back to us, horrified that someone had ripped the library off.

Being in a gang, or being part of a family with gang associations, doesn’t make you rude, bad or stupid. Yet people make snap judgements all the time. (Do I approve of everything gangs do and stand for? No, of course not. But that’s not the issue.)

Today as I went into a shop a homeless man who uses the library a lot was outside with his bicycle piled high with his possessions, including his bedding. Someone came out of a neighbouring business and ignored him. As I got out of my car and went past him I took 2 seconds to say hi and have a chat. He’s a nice guy so why wouldn’t I? Does being homeless make you rude, bad or stupid? Nope, but again, people make snap judgements all the time.

We need to look past the hats and hoodies, the tattoos, the teenage attitude or bedding piled onto a bicycyle and respond to the person underneath. I know there are one or two people I am, probably needlessly, quite wary of. Why? Because there’s something about them that scares me. And it times I got over myself and connected with them – chances are they’re fine people.