Sometimes, ten minutes are all you need to know a person.

From the way they spread out their smiles, as though the show of teeth and the flexing of muscles are too precious a commodity to be given away too freely. There is a famous Cantonese saying that literally translates into “selling a smile”, referring to social escorts who are paid for their company by businessmen partial to having beautiful women draped over their shoulders and laps when talking shop. As such, the phrase is often used derogatorily when you meet someone who smiles too much, because nobody should ever smile that much unless paid to.

From the things they say, and choose not to say. If we all voiced whatever it was in our minds, I think the world would be a better place. In fact, if evolution ever throws telepathy our way, that would just be awesome. No more lies, no more having to be nice when you don’t want to be nice, no more…pretense.

I sometimes think that I have a sixth sense when it comes to sizing people up. In fact, it is a hobby of mine. If I’d been born in the US, I would be a behaviourial scientist working for the FBI or something, studying serial killers, sex offenders and hackers (is there such a job?). Human behaviour fascinates me in that although each of us is unique, there is so much of us that’s the same, that if there was a computer with a large enough brain to catalog all our little idiosyncrasies from the day we’re born to the day we die, I am pretty sure we will be able to sort out just what kind of lives we will all lead, no matter where we’re born, how we’re raised and what religion we follow.

Yes, it is a scary, unsavoury thought, isn’t it? And yet, fascinating.

I know this all sounds awfully judgmental, but isn’t that judgmental in itself, the summary that what I’ve written here is…judgmental? Can you tell yourself successfully that I must be talking about something that’s entirely out of your understanding, that I must be given the benefit of the doubt, that I must know something you don’t?

I don’t. I think some people are so nasty and picky and fussy and ridiculous that they can’t hold it in, and that to think of them as nasty and picky and fussy and ridiculous is just…what it is: the truth. And it’s okay, because it’s not like you hate them. I don’t hate people who think asking a child to call an adult Ms. Whatever is disrespectful to the child. I just think they’re idiots. They probably think I’m archaic and third world for wanting my child to address someone older with a title. I don’t think they hate me.

Do you?

Therefore, the first ten minutes you get to spend with someone you’ve just met, is crucial.

I say make it count.