Daniel Von Fange

Life, Code, and Cool Stuff

Perceptions and the Old Green Truck

I drive like a mouse. I wait for openings in traffic, instead of making them. I don’t do 70mph in a 55mph zone. The little, dark grey 1983 Mercedes I drive has to be the choice of spies that want to avoid attracting attention.

Sadly, the Mercedes, broke down a week ago. I had to borrow the “Old Green Truck” to get to JAARS and back. Now the “Old Green Truck” is a large, ex-military pickup. It looks like a tank, sounds like a tank, is painted non-reflective olive drab, and has a personality something like a Vietnam-era drill sergeant. It burns $5.00 worth of diesel just to get to JAARs and back.

So there I am, going down the road the truck. A mini van rounds the corner ahead of me, and suddenly pulls all the way over to the edge of the road as I pass by it. Odd.

Then an oncoming black SUV pulls close to the opposite edge of the road as it approaches me. Odd.

Then one of those tricked out little Hondas with “Death” written in old english lettering across the windshield comes up from behind me. It does not pass me. Odd.

I need to turn across highway 521, a four lane, 55mph road. with no stop light at this intersection, I usually have to wait a bit for a chance to cross. The truck rumbles up to the stop sign. Several cars immediately apply their brakes, and open up a hole in traffic to let me through. Odd.

Suddenly the manners of every driver in South Carolina has changed. Everyone was giving healthy amounts of respect, and maybe a little fear.

Slowly over the next few days, I begin to realize that people were deciding what kind of person I was by looking at the Old Green Truck, and then acting based off that assumption. It was spooky.

It would be weird to be of a different skin color for a few days, and see the subtle differences in the way strangers act around you.

I’ve have never “given a rip” about how I dress. As long my clothing is comfortable and has plenty of pockets, I’m happy. However, it seems that by wearing different clothing, I could drastically change the way strangers act around me. Worth trying sometime.

It’s amazing how much power over people’s actions that people themselves let you have.