In my late teens, before I worked in TV, I used to do a bit of work for More FM in Christchurch. Some voluntary, some paid. As much as I could fit in between my regular bill-paying job at McDonald’s.
For a while, I worked on a casual basis doing promotional stuff. One Saturday, we ended up doing a radio promotion at a new McDonalds that had opened up in a service station. Part of that promotion meant meeting Ronald. Yes, the clown.
Apparently, there were 3 Ronalds in NZ job sharing at the time. They spent most of the year in heavy makeup doing Ronald type things – events, smiling at children, promotions, freaking out clown-phobic parents and the like.
We ended up having Lunch with him. Us in our regular clothes, Ronald in his clown suit, make up and red shoes, and me with a mild case of coulrophobia, contemplating whether I still wanted to work in radio.
All and all though, Ronald ended up being a nice guy. It was a strange experience sitting there with my coworker and a clown, eating our McChickens and Big Macs. But as soon as he sat down things changed. It was like he clicked out of clown mode and became this regular person, interesting conversation with the occasional F*?^# word thrown in as he relaxed into his own persona. Kind of weird hearing profanities escape from the mouth of a clown, but I grew up in the 80’s, so nothing really surprises me. If Stephen King taught us anything it’s that clowns are unpredictable.
It’s got me thinking.
When you’ve taken time to sit down with someone and really talk, the layers begin to disintegrate and you realise that what you have in front of you is a real person. Quirks and All. The best stuff, the worst stuff…the things you would have never guessed.
All of your assumptions get thrown out of the window. None of them hold up anymore.
It’s so easily to build up this idea of what people are like in our heads. Especially when we don’t know them on a personal level. What we have seen from a distance never ends up being a true representation.
Yeah, maybe most of us are not dressed like Clowns (thank goodness) but we all have our masks, vulnerabilities and stories, and yet we can easily hold assumptions about others without taking the time to truly get to know them.
I wonder if true connection begins when we allow ourselves to see past those masks?
We all deserve that kind of acceptance. We all deserve to have people in our lives who want to get to know the real us.
I think some conversation and a burger is always a good place to start.
Photo credit – Priscilla Du Preez