Service of First Impressions

June 24th, 2010

Categories: Assistant, Changing Your Mind, Cheating, Deception, Disappointment, First Impressions, Pressure, Suspicion


How reliable are your first impressions? Mine can be feeble. Whether good or bad, I’ve been happily or unhappily surprised by some.

eyeWhen it comes to people, lively eyes are important to me and these are evident on a first meeting. I eventually admired one young assistant whose eyes were expressionless–almost dead. My first impression of him was “blah to the extreme.” He was one of the best and fastest writers I’ve worked with and funny and bright as a bonus. [Don’t worry, it’s not you-we don’t know each other anymore.]

On the other hand several smart, amusing people, [some I thought were friends], turned out to be crooked, untrustworthy, sleazoids. One was caught with his hands in the coffers of the agency we worked for.

In this economy, I fear that we must brace ourselves for more of the latter. 

stapleswowAnd it’s not only people. Well known brands sell out and if you’re not paying attention, you’ll fall for a great price for what once was a reliable brand and end up with overpriced junk. Recent toaster and electric toothbrush purchases are two examples. Either a company is cashing in on its reputation, which is usually a death knell, or it’s fooling itself that licensing a lesser quality line won’t affect its higher-priced brand. While my first impression of the item on a store shelf with moderate price tag may be “Wow!” like the men in the Staples TV commercial, if my experience is poor, I scratch the brand from my “to buy” list forever.

mortgageapp2I tried to buy some vacuum cleaner bags on line yesterday and when I got to checkout, there was a form almost as long as a mortgage application. I clicked offline and called the toll-free number. Buying on the phone cost $2 less [on an $18 item] and the customer service person was an American who repeated all the numbers and addresses flawlessly. My impression had been that it would cost less for me to do all the work myself even though I was giving this company my email address–the passport to sending me countless emails about promotions and new products evermore. Go figure.

While I think of myself as street-smart, at times cynical [though occasionally gullible and trusting], I haven’t concocted reliable antidotes to people or companies that make their livings trying to cheat me by manipulating my first impression. Do you have any remedies or foolproof detection devices that weed them out?


2 Responses to “Service of First Impressions”

  1. Lucrezia Said:

    There is no such thing as a reliable first impression; something the advertising and marketing world is fast to take advantage of. Light years ago I was scalped twice by ads aired on the John Gambling radio show. It wasn’t the promise of the ads so much as the impression Gambling gave as a reliable hard working soul who wouldn’t dream of betraying his listeners. The upshot was I withdrew from his audience, and his advertisers did not see me a second time.

    This experience proved valuable, as it was a tough lesson in not basing a serious decision on anything one sees or hears.

    Since I don’t recall having the slightest faith in ads and/or the corporations behind them, I am not easily deceived. Most of today’s TV ads make it easier. With the exception of such creative works as the Aflack Duck, Capital One Vikings and cavemen, most offerings are overly long and boring episodes, often laced with insults to a viewer’s intelligence. Laughable, if there weren’t so many dummies watching, are the pill ads, whose caveats amount to a possible death sentence to a potential user. Blessings on the person who invented the mute button!

    Humanity is not only gullible by nature, it thrives on impossible dreams. That’s why a group of con artists are able to hit Westchester County streets year after year, to separate the unwary from their savings accounts. This happens despite ongoing warnings by local authorities and consumers groups. Those are the ads no one wants to see or hear.

    As to individuals, there is no telling with a first impression, so my advice is not to bother, other to keep eyes and ears on the alert, and await developments.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    What I miss was the way it was in the age of dinosaurs. Certain brands had solid reputations. If you bought one of the watches, refrigerators, small appliances, cameras, computers or whatever from brand XYZ, you were pretty certain about the quality/value you were getting for your money.

    But increasingly, what you see at a big box store gives you the wrong impression. XYZ isn’t the same thing you’d get from an independent retailer, which explains why it is so much less. Back to the ice age: If you bought XYZ on sale or at discount, it was the same thing but in not as convenient a place, maybe not available in all the colors, at a store that paid less rent and could therefore charge less.

    In addition, when the products were made in the countries that designed or invented them they were better made than the knockoffs or their lesser selves manufactured where they can be slapped together with only price in mind.

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