Contrary to popular opinion, you can judge a book by its cover. Covers are just jammed with telling information these days. What's really difficult, it turns out, is judging people by their clothes. One would think this isn't so hard; often where I work people even wear messages right on their persons, t-shirts proclaiming their love of beer, for instance, or proclaiming the company they work for. But work with the public as I do, in a chatty way, and one will be quickly disabused of such a notion. Their love of beer shirt will like as not turn out to be an ironic gift from a friend who knows how they hate beer. And it turns out their family won 300 of those company shirts in a raffle and they're very comfortable garments. They're not sure what the company is though.
If a visitor to my library is wearing some large aggressive letters on a large aggressive shirt that says "Whatch'ou lookin' at?" and I say "Nothing. I swear I'm not looking at anything." They will look confused until I gesture at their terrifying shirt. Then they will chuckle and sweetly say they forgot they even owned that shirt. Every once in awhile someone will come up wearing some very nice Barcelona Futbol Club shirt that I'd like to have. Obsessed as I am with this team I will immediately make chit chat.
"I'm so glad they pulled it out today." I say. "Brilliant goal by Paulinho!"
At which point they look at me blankly. After I explain overmuch about their shirt, and soccer, and so on, they explain back.
"Yeah." They confess. "I used to be into them, but I don't really follow basketball much anymore."
"Soccer." I correct.
"Uh, yeah." They reply without interest.
A friendly man came up to the front desk today wearing a baseball cap that had four huge letters on it. "DOPE" it said.
I figured he wouldn't be very bright. But he seemed pretty coherent to me.
I figured he would have low self esteem, but he seemed fairly self assured.
If I needed any drugs I suppose I could have asked.