It can not be overstated how important first impressions can be. They can make or break a job interview, a business meeting, a first date, and any other imaginable personal and professional meeting. Despite what we tell ourselves, humans are very judgmental creatures and first impressions are critical.
It recently accrued to me of one first impression I have overlooked in the past. Parking.
Lately when I walk across a certain company's parking lot, one vehicle instantly stands out and annoys me. There is a truck that is always backed into a spot in the back row of the lot. Well, I should say spots. Every time I go by that parking lot I can't help but look at this truck that is taking up two spots. Sometime by a tire width, sometime the white strip on the pavement goes smack dab down the centerline of the truck. I think to myself "what an ass" every time I stroll by. The reason is I think this is because there are only three reasons someone parks like that.
1. They we're in a hurry or distracted and didn't realize they did it. We've all seen the car at the grocery store or shopping mall that was just over the line or not quite all the way into the spot. We've all done it once or twice too. It happens, we are all in a hurry these days.
2. They feel that they and their vehicle is more important than everybody else. They don't want a ding in the door, plus it's their way of saying "Hey everyone, look at my car! It's why I'm better than you!" What makes this worse is usually the car is not worth looking at. Half the time it's like a 2001 Chevy Cavalier with a homemade spoiler on the back of it.
3. They simply don't care to put enough effort into parking correctly. The stop the car and say "eh, close enough."
I had an almost "light shining on my from heaven" like moment when I walked past that truck in the company's parking lot the other day. The way the owner of that truck parks really represent him. He parks like this everyday, so reason number 1 can be ruled out. He's personality matches reason number 2 for bad parking to a tee. He is extremely arrogant and proud of himself. He is not a team player at all, quick to say "that's not my job" or "I'll get to that later" or "It may not be 'the company way', but that's how I always do it." Plus his work matches reason number 3; sloppy, incomplete, inaccurate and late. Just like his parking; sometimes the back tires are off the pavement and in the grass, sometimes the front end is sticking out into the traffic lane by two feet. Eh, close enough.
The thought that stopped me in my tracks, as I was walking by his truck, was "if I was the manager of the department that he works for, and the guy parked like that when he came here for he's first interview, I never would have hired him."
I challenge you to take a look at your work's parking lot. Think about the difficult employees you have, or your pain in the ass boss, or your annoying co-worker. Now look at how that person or those people park. Keep that in mind when you interview people to fill an opening. Keep that in mind when you go to interview for a new job. Keep that in mind when you park at a vendor's, customer's place of business. Not only make sure how you park in the visitor place, but how others park. Pay extra close attention to the owner's or manager's reserved spot.
First impressions can make or break many things. First impressions say a lot. Remember that before you take the keys out of your ignition.