There is a huge distinction between first impressions and first reactions. My first impressions of people are usually correct. No matter how long it takes for that first impression to be proved right, my first impression can be counted on for its accuracy.
My first reactions are something different. When I read about something or hear about something, it may sound far-fetched or may be way beyond my level of comprehension. In those cases, I tend to keep my opinions to myself and let it roll around in my head until I have more information or until I’ve had a chance to think it through.
Take, for example, my initial reaction to reading a news item about Amsterdam paying a group of alcoholics thirteen dollars a day, a half-packet of rolling tobacco, and five cans of beer a day to clean the streets. They get the first two cans of beer to start the day, two at lunch, and one for after work.
My first reaction was that this was crazy. It was like letting the fox guard the henhouse. All I could think was that so many alcoholics start the day drinking and they have no control over their drinking. How could they hold a responsible job like keeping the streets of their city clean?
But then I read a little further and could see the rationale. While I’m still not a believer, neither am I a disbeliever. I’m keeping an open mind and letting the results speak for themselves.
Their routine starts at 9:00 a.m. They start the day with two cans of beer and some coffee, if desired. Then they go clean the streets. They come back for a warm lunch and two more cans of beer before heading off again for the afternoon shift. The working day ends around 3:30 p.m., with a final can of beer.
So far, the results have been impressive. The men put in a full day of work, drink much less than they used to, earn some money, and feel as though, for the first time in their lives, they have some structure and a reason to do something other than drink. One of the men was heard to say that when he gets home at night, he is so tired that he doesn’t even want to drink.
I’m keeping my mind open and waiting to see if these results are consistent and if the streets remain clean before reaching a conclusion.