BEEP BEEP BEEP! I slammed my hand down on my shattered iPhone and pushed the bed head out of my face. The clock reads 6 am. "Great," I thought to myself, "already running a half hour late." I rolled to the other side of my bed, threw a navy blue suit on, and without even looking in the mirror, I grabbed my roommates lime green penny board and slammed the door behind me.
I ran out of my apartment complex with some baggy gray sweat pants and an old paint-stained Carhart jacket. I threw my hair in a messy bun and with every swift push of the skateboard, I quickly grew a big childish grin. It was a crisp Spring morning and it was a very special one in particular; I was going scuba diving in the ocean for the first time.
The crosswalk sign flashed white and I continued to skate along until bam! I tripped on my ratty, untied shoelace and the penny board went flying through a four-way intersection. I landed on my back and immediately felt the blood rushing to my cheeks. Cars honked at me as I sprinted to the board. "Sorry!" I yelled in embarrassment. I hoped it wasn't going to be a precursor to the rest of my day.
"So nice of you to show up Niebel," Instructor Clint said with a half pissed off, half joking smile.
"Meet your dive partner for the day, Jacob." (Unfortunately, I had to dive with a different class then I had been practicing with and did not know anyone). I looked to the left and for the first time, I laid my eyes on Jacob. "Of course," I thought, "I'm stuck with the weirdo."
He had white tape holding his bulky glasses together and clunky, greasy brown hair. He wore a blue pokémon t-shirt and maybe came up to my shoulders. I could just tell from the start he was a quirky gamer kid. We shook hands and introduced ourselves. "I don't have anyone riding with me if you need a ride," he said. Before I jumped in the passenger seat of his beat-up maroon sports car, I washed my hands.
We pulled out of the parking lot and he turned up his 80's rock music playlist. I looked out the window and stared at cars flying by trying my best to show I was not interested in conversation. Eventually, he broke the silence and said, "I'm gonna be honest, I'm pretty terrified." I chuckled a little and agreed. Within a few minutes, I started to warm up to him.
We ended up getting so involved in a conversation that we accidentally drove 30 minutes in the wrong direction. "DUUUUDE! Clint is going to kill us, I yelled." We laughed and split his peanut butter sandwich. Finally, we showed up to the dive boat over an hour late. Both of us were just relieved we weren't left behind.
After a half hour boat ride I could see Jacob's face turning green. He ran to the side of the boat and started to hurl - A LOT. Suddenly my thick wetsuit and heavy gear started to make me feel claustrophobic, and the up and down of the swells started to get to my head. A couple of minutes later I joined him on the side of the boat. He wiped his mouth, shook his head, looked at me and said, "At least we are in this together!" I laughed and took my turn hurling over the side.
"Gross!" My instructor yelled after jumping into the eerie blue water. "I'm floating in dumb and dumber's vomit."
When we got back to school Jacob and I both shared a connection that I never thought was possible from someone who wore a pokémon t-shirt. We pulled up to my apartment complex and I gave him a hug goodbye. "You know", I said, "You actually turned out to be a pretty cool guy." He smirked and said, "touché, that was one hell of a way to meet someone."
So often we hear the phrase, 'don't judge a book by its cover'. However, I find the term to be one of those things that are easier said than done.
What I learned from Jacob is that everyone deserves a chance at friendship, regardless of how they look or how you initially stereotyped them. Jacob was anything but a weirdo, he was actually one of the most interesting people I've ever met. I learned a very important lesson that day.
Sometimes the book makes the cover. It's up to us to decide if we are willing to put in the effort to read it or not.