Thursday, May 22, 2008

Opportunity Lost

Before lunch the other day, I was on the phone in the car sitting in front of the restaurant. Two pre-adolescent boys were on the apron in front of the restaurant rolling a large coin between each other. One rolled with great exuberance, bouncing the coin onto the windshield of my rental.

The other boy started to run to the car and saw me sitting there. I gave him a slightly annoyed look and he ran to the other boy.

My conference lasted another fifteen minutes. Once finished, I left the car and started toward the restaurant. The mother of one of the boys came to me and apologized for the kids and asked if it would be alright to retrieve the coin. I did not know it but it fell into a crevice on the windshield by the wipers.

During this time, she and the father of one of the boys were looking for their son and his friend. They wanted the boys to apologize to me themselves. Since the boys were not around, I went to get lunch.

While I was in the line talking to cook taking my order, the boys entered the restaurant, standing side-by-side, and approached me. They both said they were sorry in a sort of singsong type of voice. I said that it was “OK” and motioned for them to wait a minute.

They did not wait. They left.

I then paid and went to look for them outside. All of them were gone.

I lost the opportunity to tell them this:

First, do not interrupt adults when they are talking unless it is an emergency. Even if it is just a simple transaction such as ordering lunch, it is still rude to interrupt. (I would not have added that I might make an exception to younger children who have no concept of such manners.)

Second, the fact you bounced a coin onto my windshield is not bad. It was annoying at the worst. Nothing nor anyone was hurt. What is unacceptable was the cowardice you and your friend displayed by running and hiding. The fact that your mother had to apologize for you made it even worse. I expect better of men than that. If you are to become men, “own up” to your actions starting now.

The funny thing is that I was guilty of much the same thing when I was a child, albeit younger than either of them. A friend of mine shot a window out of a car with my BB gun. (It was parked in a drive way unattended, not entering the toll way with adults and children in it). We stashed the gun and ran and hid. Our parents quickly corrected the situation and we both learned that running away from responsibility was far worse than taking it.

I hope their parents do the same for them.


monkey said...

i really like this post, and have the same beliefs. it was a shame they didnt hang around because im sr it would have been their turning point as it was yours when you were younger.

Shawn McManus said...


I had a number of incidents like that along the way. I think they're an important part of maturing.