A few months ago, I was talking with a colleague about a new student I was going to get in my classroom. I was concerned because she was known for her angry outbursts, and defiance, and I was even warned against trying to talk to her about ANYTHING. So, in this conversation with my colleague, whose opinion I respect, she referred to this young lady as a "dented can." It was not out of disrespect, nor was it out of dislike for this student whom she had never met. She was simply stating a fact: no one wants the dented can because you just don't know what you're going to get.
I have been thinking about the "dented can" metaphor ever since that conversation.
The original hardwood floors of a hundred-year old house have dents and scratches from one end to the other. The dents in that hardwood floor are said to add "character." Each dent tells a story. Fast forward to now...they actually engineer wood floors to make them look distressed...dented. Why? Because it adds character. In my own home, we had Brazilian cherry floors laid on the first floor. They were smooth...shiny...sleek...new. Within the first two weeks of those floors being installed, my mother-in-law opened a cabinet and the saxophone statue on top of the cabinet came crashing onto the floor...it left a dent. A couple weeks later, my husband was standing in the middle of the room looking up at a wall with a cup of coffee in his hand. The next thing we knew, the cup broke away from the handle and fell to the floor...it left a dent. At first, I was sick to my stomach because they weren't really dents...more like gouges in this beautiful pristine cherry floor. But they have added character. I could have the floor sanded, and restained, and while they wouldn't be as noticable, the dents would still exist. I would know they were there, and I would know what caused them.
If dents in something inanimate add character, why are dents in people considered flaws?
We all start out as that pristine hardwood floor. Undented. The older we get, the more dented we become. And those dents...no matter how deep or superficial...add character.
My name is Andrea, and I am a dented can.