Perception is reality! Oh really?

A couple of years ago, I witnessed what I thought was a man having trouble getting into his car. There was a man that must have been in his mid 60’s tugging on his door handle to his car. I watched him try to fit his arm into a small opening in the widow on the passenger side of the car. Because of the age of this man, it never entered my mind that this man was trying to break into this car to steal it. Another thing that didn’t fit the profile of a car thief was the way the man was dressed. He was dressed in a sports jacket and was wearing fairly decent trousers with nice shoes.
I walked over to the man and asked him if there was anything I could help him with or if he needed to call someone. He told me he did not have a cell phone, so I offered the use of mine. The man declined saying he just bought the car a couple of weeks ago, and had not had a chance to get a spare key made. He was in the parking lot where I worked at, so I asked him if there was someone he knew inside the building that could give him a ride to the dealership where he bought the car from, and once again he declined by saying he had just stopped by to fill out an application. I asked him again if there was anything I could help him with because I didn’t want to leave him just standing there helpless not able to get into his, and again he declined respectfully but started to sound irritated because of my repeated offers.
I went back inside and stopped by the coffee machine for some coffee and started dwelling on this poor man. As I was walking back to my desk, I glanced out the window and saw him looking around as he continued to fit his arm in the window by pulling his sleeves up. I walked over to the receptionist and asked her what position the man had applied for, and she looked at me asking me what man I was talking about. I described him to her and told her I had just spoken to him in the parking lot to offer him help because he had either lost or locked his keys in the car. She had no idea who I was talking about, which I thought was strange, because she is the one that hands out applications.

I walked over to the window and looked outside again to see if the man had gotten into his car yet. He was still there so I pointed the man out to the receptionist the man over by the white two door cavalier. After I pointed him out, the receptionist told me the man had came in the building to use the restroom, not fill out an application. I started to walk back to my desk but started to have an uneasy feeling about this man.
I know what everyone in the office drives due to working late at night, and a bunch of us walk to our cars together. I went over to the electronic pre-press department and asked the supervisor if he knew anyone that drove a white two door cavalier, and he told me his proof-reader drives one. I told him about the man trying to get into a white two door cavalier outside. The supervisor ran over to the person that had a car fitting that description and told him. The employee ran to the window and told us that was his car. Two of our employees ran outside to stop the older man, but he had broken the driver side window and was pulling out of the parking lot. During this five minute time frame, someone had called the police and the man was stopped about a half of a mile down the road, but hit one of the police cars before stopping and did a lot of damage to the car.
I have never felt so bad. If I had not let the man’s appearance fool me, I might have been able to prevent the whole thing from happening, but then again, had I not questioned the receptionist and supervisor, the car would have been long gone. I learned basically; don’t judge a book by its cover. Now when I see someone that is not familiar in the parking lot when I’m outside, or when I see someone in our building that I don’t know, I ask the receptionist. Our division did not have very strict rules before of people coming in and out of the building, but now we have a guest sign in sheet and the nature of their business. This may not stop someone from trying to do this again, but then again it just might.

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