I will never forget the Karate-Chop Stripper. How could I? She taught me a valuable lesson I've revisited in my mind over and over again. A lesson I'd like to pluck from edges of my psyche and give to the world. I think the world needs her right now.

The world needs to hear the story of the Karate-Chop Stripper.

I worked for a large Karate school in Arizona in my early 20's. I answered phones, checked in clients, took payments, made copies, sent faxes, and helped new Karate students fill out their paperwork. Easy. It took more brain power to pop a pimple than to do my job. So, it was refreshing when a super friendly, slightly overweight, and beautiful woman walked through the door inquiring about joining the karate school.

After a few pleasantries, I asked her what she did for a living. She looked around the room suspiciously as if secret agents were around the corner listening and said, "I'm a professional entertainer, if you know what I mean."

"Oh," I said meekly. I blushed. I got it. She was a stripper.

"Please keep it a secret," She asked me, giving me a wink.

"My lips are sealed," I said. Honestly, I never wanted to talk to her about it again. Ever.

But as the months went by she found ways to slip her job into the conversation. Here are a few examples.

"Boy is it hard to find work in Arizona. No one is interested in what I'm doing."

"The crowds can get rough in my line of work. I mean, I'm surprised people don't step in to help me."

"Business is slow. I might have to go back to California." 

Awkward. Right? I never knew what to say. Often my thoughts drifted towards a judgmental inner monologue. I wondered how she made a living. I was curious as to the type of men who called this plus-sized stripper for entertainment. She was after all a very large lady. I don't say this in anyway disrespectful, I'm just painting the picture for you. And, even though I wanted to give her suggestions that might help her in her line of work, I always kept quiet and just listened to her vent about the cruel world of stripping.

One day she walked into the dojo and asked if I could follow her to her car. I quickly clocked out and obeyed, unsure of what I was about to see. On the brief walk she said, "I'm losing money fast in Arizona. I figured I needed to make things more interesting. I bought some new props. Can you take a look at some of the new items I've bought for work?"

Before I could decline, she opened her trunk and pulled out a modern styled, A-line wig with blue highlights. I had seen wigs like this on many television shows and movies when a stripper was in her disguise.

"It's nice," I said. I was uncomfortable giving her advice on her stripper attire. "I bet that will work."

"Really? You think so?" She asked with hope in her eyes. "I also got some new makeup and stuff. I'm hoping that if I spruce thing up a little, it will work." She showed me some glitter and various objects that I glanced at for a quick second. I reassured her everything looked nice and quickly went back to work.

After a few months and several bizarre encounters with the Karate-Chop Stripper I actually really begin to like her. We talked about a lot of things. We laughed and truly became good friends.

Then, one day, she walked in with tears in her eyes. "I'm leaving Arizona. I just can't afford to stay here anymore. I haven't found work in a long time. There just isn't a market for my line of work here."

"I'm sorry," I said. I really was. I wanted to give her advice on marketing, but I didn't know the first thing about marketing a stripper or an escort. So, I just stood up and gave her a hug.

"I'm going to miss you,"I said.

"Carol, you have been such a good friend to me," She said. "You have always listened to me and helped me out. Please don't lose touch with me. Here is my business card. Please keep in touch."

She placed the business card upside-down, for obvious reasons, and walked out the door.

The minute I saw her drive away, curiosity took over and I grabbed her business card and turned it over. I had never seen a professional stripper's business card before. I was curious.

The business card had a picture of The Karate-Chop Stripper in the corner except she looked nothing like I thought. She was wearing the blue highlighted wig alright, but, she was also wearing CLOWN make-up! The words on the business card said: SPRINKLES THE CLOWN.

Yup. She was a professional clown! (queue the laughter)

I had been wrong all along. 

I had judged all wrong.

She was not a stripper but a professional clown!

I had used my limited information to make a judgement call I was certain of. I knew what I knew and you couldn't tell me any different. I was confident in judging an amazing individual and I had been completely wrong.

I often tell this story to get a rise out of people. Everyone laughs. It's a killer story at parties and some people lose it completely. I even had a professor ask to use this story for a Sociology Book.

So, why am I sharing this story now?

For one reason only. To clarify that we don't always have all of the information about why people do what they do. We don't live in their shoes. We haven't experienced their thoughts, upbringings, emotions, setbacks, and hardships. I guarantee we judge without a pure knowledge. We may think we have all of the pieces of the puzzle...but, we don't. We can't possibly.

Sprinkles the Clown taught me a very valuable lesson that day. Don't judge anyone. We can take a page from one of the things she told me, "You were a good friend and you always listened to me."

Let's strive to be good friends and great people instead of judgmental pricks (like me).

I think we could use a little more of that right now in the world.