Never judge a book by its cover...
We're all familiar with the old adage, "don't judge a book by its cover." These stories couldn't prove that to be anymore true. Here, shocked people share the time they realized they clearly underestimated someone.
“My grandmother was sort of my idol. At 80, she still had her license, wasn’t your typical “old lady” and was pretty damn tough. (Had lived through breast cancer twice, double mastectomy, and choosing divorce and single motherhood in an era when you didn’t do that.)
We were in the grocery store together when I was about 10, so that would have been mid 90’s. There were three other people in line ahead of us, a very obvious gay couple of guys, and a big, tough, bodybuilder type, and then us. And the bodybuilder guy is just spewing all the hatred he can. The couple is trying to ignore him, which is just firing him up more. Finally, my grandmother, a very tolerant woman, taps the bodybuilder on the shoulder, and says, “They aren’t hurting you, leave them be.”
To which he answers, “What they are doing is disgusting and they shouldn’t be around normal people.” My grandmother stares him dead in the eye, deadpan expression, and says, “Sir, I know you don’t agree with me or them, but a good stiff one in the bottom might lighten you up.”
You could have heard a pin drop. The cashier froze, I froze, the bodybuilder froze, the couple froze. My grandmother just held eye contact. After about 10 seconds, he dropped his eyes, and everybody there realized they were seeing a sort of crushing of his soul. He quietly stepped out of line. My grandmother never said another word about it, except when we got to the car, she looked over at me and said, “Being a grown up bully is a sad thing to be.”
The guy could have squashed her like a fly. I was never able to look at her the same anymore. She was an even more mystical type of figure after that.”
I met this guy, a construction worker. He was gruff, older, and rocked a long, long mullet. The ‘party in the back’ was thick and went aaaalllll the way down his back. I thought he was just a crusty, kinda white-trash dude, and started calling him Mullet Man, in my head and to my coworkers (we worked for a competing firm, and saw him at industry events.)
Fast forward a few months, and I overhear him telling someone how his niece has cancer, and he’s growing his hair out for her to have a new wig made. He heard that untreated hair works best, so he figured his would be ideal.
I’ve never felt like such a dick. You go, Mullet Man, you beautiful human.”
“Worked with this kid who was kind of pudgy. He wanted to be a Navy Seal. Everyone laughed. He did it. He became a Navy Seal.”
“I was in high school and behind my friend’s house there was some farmland. One day for whatever reason, 4 of us decided to go out there and build a fort. It ended up turning out awesome, and we decided to spend the night in it. We filled up an empty water bottle with his parents vodka and built a fire out there. The owner of the property must’ve saw the fire and didn’t appreciate us trespassing so he called the cops. Around midnight about 5 or 6 cops surrounded us. We were all underage, and we tried to convince the cops we weren’t drinking. It worked, because we hadn’t really started drinking much of the vodka yet and the cops didn’t think to open our water bottle. So the cops tell us as long as we put out the fire and take down the fort we wouldn’t get into any trouble.
My idiot friend says, “Okay officer we’ll just go ahead and put out this fire and be on our wa-.” And dumps the bottle into the fire.
FOOOSH! Instantly in handcuffs. Underestimated my friend that day. He WAS that stupid. Maybe I overestimated him. Oh well. Still a funny story.”
“When I was going through college I was put into a group for a group project with a guy that I’d been paired with before. He’d done nothing. It was awful. We ended up picking up all of his slack last time, and I wasn’t looking forward to doing it again.
Well, long story short, apparently he had a little “come to Jesus” with his adviser and realized he needed to put effort into graduating. That dude carried us. 11/10 stars. It was amazing, group leader asked him to do something, he knocked it out of the park. We literally got a 100% on the project. Top grade in our class.”
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“There was a Super Smash Bros Brawl tournament in 2009 at the dorms, open to all residents. It was a team tournament, so you got matched up with one person for the whole night. I get a soft-spoken guy, whose first words I heard were, “Huh… I thought this one had Mega Man in it…”
So I’m cursing several Greco-Roman gods at getting probably the biggest noob in the room. Turns out, he was the best in the room, and was just trolling me. Took on everyone and won with a little help from me, here and there. We later played against each other in a 1 vs 1 tournament, and he beat me by a smidge. But he helped me get a $25 Best Buy gift card.”
“I underestimated my cousin. She has always seemed to be the queen bee of middle school and I resented her for it. But one day I heard that she completely ditched the in-crowd because they were making fun of some kid. I realized I had been completely wrong about her character and that I am extremely proud of her for this.”
“I went to my local racquetball court looking for a pick-up game when I was in my early twenties. This was in San Diego back in 91-92. I was reasonably athletic and I was just starting to consider myself competent at racquetball. Anyway, the only other player there was a seventy-year-old retired naval officer. He offers up a match so, lacking more athletic opposition, I accepted.
Never before and never since have I ever been beaten so badly at anything. He completely, and effortlessly destroyed me. We played three matches and I scored only one point. I was left exhausted and utterly broken. He barely broke a sweat. I don’t think I’ve picked up a racket since then, so utter was my defeat.”
“I worked at an electronics retailer two years ago. One day, a middle aged farmer, and I mean farmer, complete with overalls, boots and straight-billed cap, came into the store looking for a cell phone. I immediately sold him the simplest, easiest phone we carried, going unto great detail on every feature, including the camera, sending text messages and every imaginable part of the phone’s hardware and software.
The next day, the same guy comes in and I immediately think that he’s having phone trouble and resign myself to an hour of explanation. He asks for an external hard drive, because he wants to move his custom kernel of Linux to his new computer (I can’t remember the exact details, I was totally floored by his request). He then spots my textbook on international political economy (my boss was very forgiving of me studying in slow times) and asks me fifteen minutes of in-depth questions on one of the main contemporary theorists in the field (Karl Polanyi), beyond even what myself and my classmates had asked (the class was graduate level).
Needless to say, I was berating myself for ever stereotyping this seemingly backwoods farmer from the sixties.”
“Not me, but I was in the park and a little girl got her balloon stuck in a tree. Her dad/brother/male she was with tried and couldn’t get it out.
Then along comes this 5 foot nothing kid, sees the girl crying, and just jumps up like Spud Webb and grabs the balloon and gives it back to the little girl.”
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“Met a guy while going through college. He was in my major and most of my classes. He was a massive stoner with no brains about him. He failed almost every class due to not trying or slacking off and was always in an insane panic the last 2 weeks of classes to not fail. He ended up repeating classes a lot. At some point, I decided to switch colleges. I graduate this December. I got a LinkedIn request from him yesterday.
He has finished his MASTERS in Engineer Technology now and has tons of recommendations on his profile from employers that he did internships under, all giving him glowing reviews about his work ethic. I left this guy in the dust 3 years ago. Sometime between then and now he cleaned up his act and worked so hard that not only did he close the year gap in courses between me and him due to all his failings but he also accelerated ahead 2 additional years and finished a masters. How the heck did you do that, Fred? I watched you come to class high for a year and then you cram 4 years of work into 2?”
“I have a friend who has dyslexia and is incredibly shy, even around his close friends. We did an electronics project in high school where we had to design an electronic game or a metronome. He chose to make a game and made this incredible device that played a happy little tune when you won and a sad tune when you lost, it sat in a well moulded and polished box and had a segment display on the front. I was in awe sitting there with my crappy little metronome that didn’t even work.”
“A group of family friends and I went paintballing for the first time, which ended up having a bunch of kids against the parents. Being young and cocky, we thought it would be a stomp, and marched confidently into the woods.
What we forgot was that all of our parents were immigrants from Taiwan.
Taiwan has a mandatory military service.
I was reminded of that fact rather harshly when I tried to ambush my dad. The paintball in my face pinned this fact to my memory forever.”
“I found out one of my (dumber) friends had the unique ability to know how long anything would take. Anything. She was not the brightest button, failed out of college, made terrible financial decisions, but damn if she didn’t know how long it would take to go to Walmart, get gas, and come home (34 minutes). If you gave her a highway marker, she would tell you down to the minute how far away you were from your house. It was incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it, and she was never wrong.”
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“The little woman who was my first partner in Tae Kwon Do. I was a (much taller) white belt, and she was a green belt.
That was the day I watched the gymnasium ceiling pass overhead, in a slow, dreamy way. Followed by the sound of my landing.”
“I was roughly about 8 or 9. So me, my mom, two brothers and a friend all went to the cinema. We ended up getting out of the cinema at like 10. As we were walking back to the car I kind of dropped back a little bit as I was in my own world. All I heard from behind me was a teen’s voice getting my attention, unaware of any real dangers in life at such a tender age and my mom a few meters up from me I turned around.
Soon as I turned around one of the kids knees me in the stomach and the other one punched me in the face. The worst bit was I couldn’t even shout as I was winded. A few seconds passed and I shouted. My mom turned seen me on the floor and started sprinting for these kids. She ran straight past me. So right in front of me my mom grabbed one of them and started punching this 16-year-old in the face and throwing him around like a rag doll.
The other one was shouting for her to stop and he ran up to my mom and she literally did the same to him. Security came over not so long after and then the police. The kids were arrested and nothing came of my mom kicking seven shades of crap out of these two kids. Turns out they had been going around the Metro Center (where the cinema was) shoplifting, pick pocketing and being all round urethras. Safe to say everybody in school knew the next day. I imagine it was a good bully deterrent too.”
“My grandpa has Parkinson’s, and in the last few years, he’s been getting really frail to the point where you can’t feel anything between the skin and the bone. Anyway, taking care of him was becoming a lot for my step-grandmother, so she tried finding a good nursing home for him.
At the home where he went, people treated him so badly that he had a flashback to being a POW in the Korean War. My grandma gets a call that they found him 3 miles away perfectly fine, but we all thought the dude couldn’t even get out of bed on his own.
My grandfather’s getting close to dying now, and he certainly did a lot during his life. It was good to hear that he still had some of that in him when he seemed like just a shell.”
My mother-in-law raised my husband and his brother, and my father-in-law was always kind of this quiet presence. She always said he was disinterested, and didn’t care about the boys. She said a lot of really awful things about him. Their divorce was messy, but I took what she said at face value. Fast forward to now.
When I got laid off, my father-in-law, in his quiet way, invited us to stay at his house, until I finish school. With our two crazy toddlers, and our old cat who doesn’t always make it to the litter box. I was hesitant at first, but we didn’t really have options. Turns out he’s this salt-of-the-earth guy. He works, and reads, and builds stuff for our babies to play with (like a 6′ tall working windmill), and is the best grandpa any kid could ever want.
Turns out he has always loved the boys deeply, but struggled with depression since my mother-in-law took them and left. He has bought every birthday present, school clothes, etc. since they were little. Even though they had no idea. I also found out he has been paying all of mother-in-law’s bills even after the boys grew up and moved out. When I asked him why he said, “She’s the mother of my children, I don’t want to see her struggle.” One of the best people I know. I hope, one day, we can repay him for all of his kindness.”
“I was arguing with a customer at work. I, like a smart aleck, tried to reinforce a point I was making by quoting the only line I knew from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. She, in a fit of anger proceeded to give me the next 20 lines of that character’s soliloquy, all from memory.
I was owned, big time.”
“I once thought it was safe to change the baby’s diaper because he couldn’t possibly shit anymore, nope he shit more while I was changing him.”
“I invited my girlfriend along to paintball for my 21st birthday, her grandparents owned a farm so I knew she wasn’t a princess but she certainly isn’t low maintenance.
The game was capture the flag. The field was set up in a valley with a team on either side and a single meter-wide footbridge connecting the two sides. The flag was sitting in the middle of the bridge, the only cover was 2 waist-high walls on either side.
We push up to the flag and are pinned by a vicious volley of vivid viscera. Naturally, I am scared and hunker down. Just as I had mustered enough courage to peep my head above the cover, I see my girlfriend blaze past with reckless abandon, shooting wildly. She nabs the flag, runs back past me and back towards base. She never got hit.
I have never been more stunned/impressed than that moment.”
“In one of my first tae kwon do sparring classes, this obese dude is taking the class and I’m thinking, “Good for him for trying but what in the world can he even do?” We get to sparring, he kicks me effortlessly in the side of the head. I didn’t even see the kick coming.
At the end of class, during cool down stretching, the dude had a full side split. Never underestimated someone based on their size after that again.”
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“My grandparents had a beautiful marriage. They met at a sailor’s dance when my grandfather was in the navy. My grandmother married him and moved to the US. They were loving and inseparable. Best friends. Soul mates Id say. Ive never seen two people treat each other with that amount of respect.
In 2001, my grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease. It was heartbreaking to watch. Near the end, he would carry around their wedding photo asking where his wife was, refusing it was her. She endured the heartache and took care of him until it became difficult. Due to the disease, he became violent and frustrated. He would get lost and lash out. Even when he went into hospice care, not speaking, she sat by him and was strong for us. For him. For herself.
In 2004, he passed away. During the funeral, we were all a wreck. I remember trying to fight through tears to see my grandmother as she walked up to the casket. She leaned down to kiss him, promising to see him soon. When they gave her the flag, smiled and looked as proud as could be.
A few years later, I recalled this to her and asked how she was so strong. She said that nothing would separate them. Not even death. She said she feels him every second of every day.
“I saw a fight on my college campus my sophomore year. The first guy was probably 6’2″, and at least 220. The other guy was no taller than 5’6” and 140 when soaking wet.
The smaller guy was trying to stop the fight constantly. When the bigger guy started throwing punches, he was just dodging them left and right and telling the big guy to calm down.
The big guy finally hit him in the jaw after at least 10 failed attempts. The smaller guy said “You hit me one more time, and I’m gonna lay you out.” He dodged a few more before the big guy landed a shot to the gut. Little guy stepped back, set his feet, and gave him an uppercut that made me wanna yell out, “Shoryuken!”
The big guy went stiff and fell straight back. Little guy lit a cigarette and walked away.”
“Nothing much but when I saw my friend play chess. I’ve always considered myself a decent player but when I heard him think aloud, just how far ahead he thinks to make the right moves to fork my pieces, win trades and eventually win the game, it really opened my eyes that he’s not just another derpy kid at school.”
“I underestimated my mom’s whole family. Up until recently I never really bothered to ask her about her childhood. She grew up in Bolivia with 3 other sisters and a brother in a small apartment complex. Her father died when she was about 10 years old and it was just her mother and her siblings left. Almost all they money that was supposed to be left to them went to who they believed to be her father’s jeweller/possible mistress.
They were poor and had no income. Everyone in her house had to start working so that they could survive. The older siblings had to drop out to send they younger ones to school. My mother met my father and left to America with the rest of the sisters and started a great life here. Her brother Went to college and eventually became El Defensor del Pueblo, a government appointed human rights lawyer. He is now running for the head of a university and possibly working his way up to run for the presidency of Bolivia (rumor).”