The time to make up your mind about people - is never.
Sometimes when I look at people's behavior online (oh, the comment section!), they can look pretty horrible. Deplorable, even. But in my daily life, I cross paths with nice people all the time.
I was hurrying into the airport recently and I lost my footing in a puddle. I fell heavily on my knee, messing up my sandaled toes. When I was going through security, that section of my leg set off their sensor (?) and the TSA officer wanted to pat it down. I mentioned to her that I'd fallen and showed her where my foot was bleeding. She was lovely and gave me a Hello Kitty bandaid, which made me laugh.
At the grocery store the other day, I had a cashier who looked pretty sour. She didn't speak English and didn't really engage with me during the transaction. After I was done, she had two coupons of her own that she wanted to use on my behalf, and she put a surprising amount of effort into making sure I got that money back ($1.67). I was really touched. She was a book whose cover I couldn't read at all.
I frequent grocery stores, to be honest. My crowd eats a lot. At another grocery store, there's a cashier who calls everyone "mi amor." Other staff members, customers, we're all "my love" to her. I was at the store and she was talking to a customer near me about whether the customer was getting a particular discount. "You're such a beautiful lady," the cashier said. "You have to get the discount." I don't know what the ordinary-looking senior citizen thought about the compliment, but I do know that the cashier meant it.
What do we see when we look at people? Threatening TSA officers, sour-faced strangers, plain faces? What else might we see instead?