stylin' and profilin'

One of the unintentionally funny aspects of my job involves going through audio or film samples while designing the company catalog. These crappy samples may be funny in their own unique way, but they all end up in the same place - the recycling bin.

Yes, recycled but never forgotten. There was the amateurish hack job of a film (suprisingly not imdb-worthy) that featured a guest spot by a grizzly Luke Skywalker aka Mark Hamill. Or the job with John Davidson in a ridiculous half-teased/half spiked white haired wig on his CD cover. Or the countless number of jazz saxophonists who work the sax/sex pun ("Sax-ual Healing", "Sax-ual Satisfaction" etc) and pose on their beds caressing their saxophones either by themselves or with some trashy chicks. How about the local Jersey dentist who moonlights as a rocker and recruits his secretaries and stepdaughters to pose in whorish fashion on his CDs and posters (which are posted up in his office)? Or the rappers who offered to bring in the stripper that posed in disgustingly explicit photos which were discreetly cleaned up for the packaging? And then there's the occassional porn. We were tempted at one time to jump head first into that lucrative industry, but decided against the move - for fear of offending our large pool of religious clients. By the way, its the religious clients that end up being the most devilishly demanding and vain.

Recently, while sifting through some more forgettable samples, I came across an instructional audio CD called "Likeable You! - 7 Communication Strategies for Long-Lasting Relationships". The first "strategy" compares the impressions made by a raggedy dude with unkempt hair stumbling out of his beat-up car vs. a handsome clean-cut gentleman with a smile jumping out of his Mercedes in a beautifully tailored suit. I guess all Mercedes owners are supposed to be likeable. Anyway, this heavy handed example goes to show that somebody will form an impression of you within 4 seconds of seeing you. Talk about stating the obvious. But it made me think of all the times I've been profiled in my life.

Usually my encounters with social profiling have been harmless if not humorous. When I told my new co-workers that I lived in Jersey, many of them replied suprisingly, "Oh I thought you lived in Philly...". Besides assuming that I was younger than my actual age, they saw me (upon my arrival) as the urban kid, the hip hop kid...the kid who must live in philly aka killadelphia.
Actually when my current company first approached me at my school's job fair, the art director at the time gave me explicit bus route directions to their location without asking me if I owned a car. Of course back in my baggy jeans days of college, there were the cliched instances of store owners sending employees to follow me around their establishment. Sometimes it was obvious, other times they tried to be sneaky. But it never fazed me because there were always humorous episodes of misidentity - like when an southeast asian cashier at McDonalds told me I resembled the dalai lama. Or when an indian guy at the exxon repeatedly tries to speak to me in spanish. I can go on and on...but I won't go into the times I've been eyed up and down by our friendly NJ police on stops and checkpoints (do they do this anywhere else in the country?). Its ok if I'm with my wife, because we appear more responsible. But when I'm on my own ... hopefully I'm dressed in a "likeable" way. I'll be sitting in front of the cop - regretting that I didn't buy a Mercedes and rock a power suit.


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