Sometimes I write blogs while I have a dozen other things on my mind and assignments that I should be working on. I usually only endeavour to write when I know that I have an hour or two of free time, but sometimes I break that rule. When I do, the quality of the blog sometimes suffers.

Such was the case with my most recent blog. I had a midterm to study for and an economics assignment to complete at the time, and in my haste to hit the "Publish Entry" button, I neglected to mention one very important event that occurred on Wednesday of last week. Like my encounter with Steve, this one also requires some back-story.

As you’re all well aware by now, I spent last summer working at my high school. At some point early on in the summer, a boy (let’s call him Will) walked into the room with his mother. In the last blog, I described the meeting with Steve’s family, and what great people they were, and what fun it had been to work with them, right? Well, this was the exact opposite. Will was a complete prick. He contradicted everything I said, he was rude for no reason whatsoever, he would have to be forced to try on the clothes… just a complete jerk. When he was finally fitted into his blazer and dress shirt, I asked the same question that I asked everyone else: "How do you look?"

His response was "Like a tool."

And then I reminded him that everyone would be dressed the same way, to which he responded "Then I guess I’m going to a school with a bunch of tools."

In hindsight, that was somewhat witty. And I kind of walked right into it. At the time though it was incredibly rude of him.

More importantly, it worried me because it reminded me of myself. Four years prior I had been in his shoes. I hated the school. I hated the uniform. I hated the people. I wanted no part of it. I eventually learned, but not before I pissed away two years. Sure, I didn’t have the mouth that he had, but Will was like me. And I could tell that he was going to piss away two years too if he didn’t change his mind, and fast.

It was my custom during the summer that after checkout, I would remind the student that getting involved with the school is the most important thing to do. It’s what I failed to do during my first two years, and I’d hate to see someone else go down the same road. It was good advice, but most of the students didn’t need it. Most of them already knew that they were going to try out for football/basketball/hockey/baseball/lacrosse/volleyball/drama/band/etc.

If anyone needed this advice, it was Will. But I failed to give it to him. Usually my spiel about getting involved with the school was the last thing that I said before the student left. But Will wanted to get the hell out of there as fast as possible. I turned to shake the mother’s hand, and poof, he was gone. The one person that my advice could have made a difference to, and I failed.

I felt really bad about that for weeks afterwards. I mean, he was a pretty stubborn kid. What are the odds that anything I could have said would have made a difference? Slim, right? But there was a chance. And I let it slip. That didn’t sit well with me. It was a dark spot on a summer that was otherwise fantastic.

I was actually going to write a blog about this incident in the summer. I even had a title for it: "The One That Got Away". One thing about my writing process is that titles are one of the last things that I do. It doesn’t matter if it’s a blog, an essay, or a novel. I almost never come up with the title until after I’ve written the piece itself (I don’t have a title for this one yet). So the fact that I already had a title meant that I was pretty much done the mental development process, and all that was left to do was type it out. But I never did. I don’t know why.

Anyhow, before the end of the summer, I stopped by the office of the Dean of Students to chat. During our conversation, I told him about Will, and asked him to do his best to make sure that Will enjoyed himself when the year began. He said he would, but that ultimately it was Will’s choice whether he enjoyed himself or not.

Okay, we’re done with the flashback. Fast forward to last Wednesday.

I was just about to leave my school after a most enjoyable day when I noticed a boy who looked oddly familiar, laughing with some friends. I couldn’t put a name to the face though. Fortunately, one of his friends helped me out: "Hey Will…", one of them said. And I thought to myself "Holy shit!"

He was a far cry from the gloomy smart-ass that I had met eight months before, but it was definitely the same Will. I asked him his name just to confirm. It was him.

"I remember you," I said. "You were the biggest prick at the uniform fitting in the summer."

A little blunt? Maybe. But I could tell that he was in a good mood, and wouldn’t be offended.

"Yeah," he said, looking slightly embarrassed. "Sorry about that."

"You really didn’t want to go to this school, eh?"

"I changed my mind," he said. "This place is great."

"You have lots of friends here then? You’re having fun?"

"Yeah," he said. "I love it here."

"I’m glad to hear that," I said. "Take care."

It was such a short conversation, but it was the highlight of my week. I don’t know who was responsible for Will’s change of heart. Did the Dean act on my recommendation and help Will out somehow? I’d love to take some credit, but there’s no way of knowing for sure. And it doesn’t even matter anyhow. Somewhere along the line, someone helped him. Someone changed his mind. It doesn’t matter who it was. All that matters is that there is a boy who is happy now who otherwise wouldn’t be. Someone gave him the two years of happiness that I missed out on.

I don’t usually bring religion into this place, but I think the best way to sum up my feelings about this is in a Bible passage. You all know the one: "There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance." In the same way, seeing Will happy brought me more joy than seeing the smiling faces of ninety-nine other people.

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