By Dan Warren

A few years ago – I heard a very inspirational story on the radio while driving.

I’ll do my best to recount the tale accurately from memory.

A little girl had arrived at an orphanage where the staff was told little about her past, but warned of her severe behavioral disorder.

It wasn’t long before the staff realized the gravity of this warning. The child (no more than 9) was violent toward the staff and other orphans – seemingly for no reason. She refused to follow any sort of direction and when physically restrained (for her own and others protection) she would react with physical rage coupled with blood curdling screams that lasted for prolonged periods.

When she wasn’t going berserk she was silent and withdrawn; interacting with no one.

She was constantly wandering off by herself, which always kept the staff on alert. However, because of her unruly disposition, she was allowed to keep to herself, yet watched very closely.

On one occasion she went missing and the staff went on high alert. She was eventually spotted trying to climb over one of the orphanage walls (apparently to escape) the employee pulled her from the wall as the girl franticly struggled to place a folded piece of paper between two small tree branches extending to the wall’s side of freedom.

The little girl was dragged away in her traditional fashion as the headmistress was handed the piece of paper.

As the little girl’s screams began to fade into the distance she unfolded the note to reveal the following single sentence —

“To whoever finds this note— I love you”

I reflected on the story for sometime. It greatly affected me in a very haunting way.

I recalled a time when I was so desperate for guards I often found myself in front of water.

One day I was passing by Human Resources when an HR Generalist called me into her office to introduce me to a Lifeguard Candidate seeking a Management position.

The young lady’s outward appears was so foreign to my own, I was slightly taken aback. She had what I would refer to as a punk rock hairdo accented by piercings in both eyebrows and the nose. Her outward ambiance was summed up with an accompaniment of arm and leg tattoos.  I had intense reservations about hiring her as a lifeguard (let alone a Manager) — however we were so desperate for guards I was willing to give her a chance on the stand (once properly trained for our facility).

It wasn’t long before the wisdom of the old adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” really resonated with me.

This young lady soon became one of our most valued employees. Her loyalty and astute commitment to safety was commendable.

Unfortunately, many people judge others upon first sight or they simply get off on the wrong foot which often results in negative opinions being cemented in.

Although the story of the little girl is extreme, it should remind us not to be too quick to pass judgment on people if we really don’t know who they are or where they come from.

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