What's your stereotype ... type ... type ... ?

I'm still not quite positive what profiling means when I see it on the news.

Is it that someone does a study and determines that a certain percentage of a particular group has been arrested for shoplifting as compared to the population as a whole?

Or that a higher percentage of a certain group gets arrested for shoplifting than most other groups?

Or that a high percentage of the shoplifters that got arrested were from a particular group?

Regardless of what it really means, I've decided on my very own that I really don't care what it means when it comes to who gets arrested. I just want the guy who commits the crime to get arrested, never mind the studies or stereotype profiles.

I also have decided that many of the stereotypes that are glued upon certain groups of people are not always clear. And that I've had enough life experiences that I shouldn't fall into the trap of my own self-concocted profiling techniques.

People are who they are, not who I think they might be.

But it works both ways. I found myself on the wrong side of a discrimination suit one time because I was accused of not hiring a man for a school principal job because he was gay.

During one of the hearings, I allowed that the man was not hired because he was gay, but in part because he announc-ed the fact that he was gay at least 10 times during the course of the interview.

We all know of people who hide behind the stereotype of being a Christian but in fact act very un-Christian like.

On the lighter side, what are the stereotypes that we hear about vegetarians? When people announce to a flight attendant that they are vegetarian, I'm wondering what that means.

Does it mean that they won't eat anything that isn't green, or just anything that comes from an animal? Or is it just the animal that is shunned? But sometimes fish can slide under the radar.

Can't say as I blame them. But that stuff that they call chicken, ham or beef served on a plane probably isn't very much real meat anyhow.

If an attendant hears the word diabetic, what are they to do? My own stereotype says too bad; no chocolate cake, milkshakes or candy bars. Does it also mean no potatoes, bread, hotcakes or gravy?

I eat animal parts, vegetables and big fat rich pieces of pie. What stereotype do I fit?

I'm not sure, but I think that it might be a bit risky to not fit into one of the

more common stereotypical groups, because you might be looked upon with suspicion if you don't. Now that's a scary thought, but it just might be true.

If you are a Republican and voted for a Democrat in the last election, are you not in trouble with some of your friends?

If you don't fit into the pro-life group or the pro-choice group, are you in safe waters?

I'm thinking that if you don't follow the stereotyping model that society has established for us, you may be a bit suspicious to the rest of society.

But I love vegetables from Nash's, and ox tails from Sunny Farms' butchers. Do I have to declare a choice? Am I a vegetarian or a carnivore?

Dad swore that some of his Mormon friends who drank beer from Dad's refrigerator while working on one of his construction projects were oftentimes better people than those who professed to be pure Mormons.

How many computer games are you allowed to play before you become part of the computer gamer crowd?

What if your vegan brother-in-law drops into town for a visit and you notice that he has porked on a couple of chubby inches around his belt? How's your stereotype doing right now?

Which group do you get to be when you have a mother from one group and your dad from another? Usually neither, unless you can get yourself elected president or something influential like that.

I guess I need a real test to see if I practice what I preach. If someone were to run for Sequim City Council in the future, I would have to prove that I didn't automatically think that they were a born bickerer and might even be able to work as a team member if they were to get elected.

Who knows? My stereotyping seems to hold true for at least one of the current candidates. I'll see about the rest as the race plays out.

Jim Follis is a retired school administrator, has published two books and currently writes three newspaper columns. Eating, drinking and making merry are his professed hobbies. Traveling, trekking and observing people follow not far behind.

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