I have met or known three useless people in my life.
The first I met at a family party back in 1993. I was told that this 2nd cousin had come over from Princeton University in the USA. He was an academic and into maths. When people had gathered, I saw this rather shy and retiring man standing quietly on his own. I've done a maths degree so normally I would have gone up to him and asked questions about all things mathematical. But he seemed to me, without having spoken to him, well, just boring. So, I talked to others instead.
I later found out that it was just a day or so later that he, Andrew Wiles, gave a world famous lecture at Cambridge University where he announced his proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. You can read all about him in Wikipedia here. What I would now give to speak to him, to ask him about his amazing and gargantuan journey to crack a puzzle that had tested mathematicians for centuries and many said could never be solved.
The second useless person I met was in my year at school. He was a singer in a band, and if I remember the name correctly, its name was 'Chaos'. This title, for me, only begins to describe the ear-bendingly awfulness of the music they played. The singer wore a tutu and I really wondered how this strange boy would cope in the wider world after school.
The singer of this band, Neil Gaiman, is now a world famous writer. You can read about him here.
The third useless person I saw was a comedian on TV. To me, he was foul mouthed, lacked anything interesting to say, and above all was not funny. "What a waste of time it is to listen to this man", I thought.
And then I read and heard his commentaries about life, the universe and everything. Amazing stuff. So compassionate. And written or spoken like a true jester, someone who can see things from a fresh perspective. Click here to see a wonderful interview that Russell Brand gave with Jeremy Paxman.
I do not say all of this because these three people are any better than anyone else. Because I believe that everyone has something to contribute, something to say, and is valuable. I say all of this because they are three lessons for me not to judge anyone. To listen, observe and understand. There is always so much more to a person if I take the time to listen and find out their true worth.