The Story of the Red Mustang

By | March 6, 2019

[March 6, 2019] Along with 23 fellow citizens from my country in Southern New Jersey, we just completed two months of Grand Jury duty. The most memorable anecdote to come out of it was the story of the red Mustang sports car. This was my first time on Grand Jury duty, and we learned about how appearances can make a big difference in how you are perceived by law enforcement officials.

We learned more about the interworkings of the judicial system, met many police officers, and generally had a good time. We could drink coffee and eat snacks while cases were presented to us. Why? A grand jury does not decide guilt or innocence but simply whether the case should proceed to court. We got to hear a lot about arrests for serious crimes, traffic stops, and even murder.

During one of our breaks, another juror (about 55 years old) and I were discussing older cars; a favorite topic of men. He described how often he got stopped by the police when driving this bright red, convertible Mustang. What brought this story up was the fact that on one trip, the juror was traveling north on the New Jersey Turnpike with his mother in the passenger seat. He was stopped four times by the State Police.

On the fourth stop, the juror’s mother (obviously upset as explained to me) loudly told the State Trooper that this was the fourth time her son had been pulled over in less than one hour. This often happened in the past. The trooper went back to his vehicle and returned with an apology. No explanation was given, but he assumed that an APB (all-points bulletin) had been put out on a similar car.

The next month, the juror had his Mustang repainted green. He also was not pulled over again by the State Police.

Our appearance matters. Some folks will tell you this should not be the case because we should all be judged on our abilities and track record of getting things accomplished. Well, that is a fine sentiment. The reality, however, tells us that we will be judged by how we look. It is up to us to what is possible to present our best appearance at all times.

For those involved in leadership, a distraction like this is unnecessary. That means to dress like success, act friendly and respectful to others, and don’t let your guard down. And if you drive a red Mustang sports car, it might be a good idea to limit your exposure to the local police.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

21 thoughts on “The Story of the Red Mustang

  1. Doug Smith

    Remember that things in life are not always as they seem. Fail to acknowledge this and you will be tricked many times in your life.

    1. Bryan Lee

      Yes, so beware of judging others by their appearance.

  2. Wilson Cox

    Aesop said, “We should look to the mind, not to the outward appearance.”

  3. Kenny Foster

    I never had Grand Jury duty but glad to hear you were there doing your duty. Appreciated the story of the Red Mustang sports car. Very good storyline to embed the idea that appearance does matter. Too many young people ignore this idea to their peril.

    1. Gil Johnson

      I thought it was stupid to judge people on their appearance. How wrong I was. Despite the fact that you “can’t judge a book by its cover,” appearance does give us an idea of what’s inside.

  4. Willie Shrumburger

    I was a “standout” on our High School football team. That got me the girls and praise of friends. That gave me the confidence I could do things. The attention was a good thing. But the girls and friends didn’t matter much later in life when I went into business. But the confidence was a big plus. Gen Satterfield wrote, “That means to dress like success, act friendly and respectful to others, and don’t let your guard down.” This worked for me.

  5. lydia truman

    Great article on the ‘red Mustang.’ I owned a bright blue convertible 1969 Ford Mustang for many years. I too was pulled over by the local police in San Diego regularly. But never was issued a ticket for speeding or anything else. I think they just wanted a close-up look at the car. Of course, I was young, blonde, and (some will say) good lookin’.

    1. Otto Z. Zuckermann

      No surprise then they wanted to see you too.

  6. Shawn C. Stolarz

    I too had a beautiful, brightly colored sports car – an MGB in orange. Loved it. My girlfriends loved it. And my friends love it too. The problem with the car was that it was not practical and being a college student. It was simply not a viable solution to transportation to see relatives in the next state over. I had to sell the MGB. After that I got a Toyota Camry. I never got pulled over again.

  7. Eric Coda

    And it’s not just our clothing and hairstyle that matters. These are things we can control. There are also physical attributes we have little or no control over. I knew a guy who was 5’3″. He had no problem with it but around other men who were all taller, he was often the butt of jokes and putdowns. In my opinion, his physical height slowed down his promotions.

    1. Maureen S. Sullivan

      This is a common outgrowth of our obsession on physical appearance over intellect.

    2. Greg Heyman

      Results matter. If you cannot succeed on your hard work, then resort to your looks. But if you have neither, well ….

    3. Tony B. Custer

      “The beggar is the only person in the universe not obliged to study appearance.” Nice quote by Don Herold.

  8. AutisticTechie

    One’s appearance does matter. The better we look, the better people will think of us. This is a good thing but can hide some problems. Anyone can take the time to be clean and dress neatly and appropriately if they only showed that they care. This is often what others are looking at and rightly so.

    1. Dale Paul Fox

      Right! In the IT tech world, I’m sure they don’t care how you dress or how unshaven or unkempt you are as long as you are clean and your clothes are not a distraction.

      1. AutisticTechie

        That is true Dale. For example, you would not be allowed to wear your bathing suit to work but at the pool party, that same swimwear could be required.

    2. José Luis Rodriguez

      Correct assessment Autistic Techie. I would say this is common sense stuff. But you would be amazed at how many folks at my workplace get into trouble for consistently ignoring workplace rules on dress. Just the simple stuff like you have to wear shoes; bare feet are not accepted.

  9. Janna Faulkner

    Army Captain, I was thinking the same thing. There are, however, several lessons that maybe Gen Satterfield didn’t point out. Being a standout in the crowd might draw undue attention to yourself when you least want it. So be careful. There are many more lessons too.

    1. Anita

      But this is how we become better leaders. We learn that standing out in the crowd is usually a good thing. Attention is on us to act to do something good for everyone.

  10. Army Captain

    Amusing. Just what I need to get over hump day Wednesday!

    1. Albert Ayer

      Same here. I’m working thru the weekend too.

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