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Saturday, May 26, 2012
A PENCIL AND A DIME
Linda was a tall and gangly girl in my eighth grade class at Edison Grade School. She had freckles and a large nose and wasn't attractive, but she was nice.
One day something caused me to be in a hurry during lunch break, and Linda happened to be in the classroom doorway when I tried to run through it. As she turned to face me, I gave her a nudge that was stronger than intended, and it threw her off-balance. She stumbled backwards, and I stopped and stood there aghast as this tall, clumsy, nice girl fell in the hallway, landing awkwardly on her butt. I don't remember if I apologized when it happened. I don't remember if I helped her up. All I remember is that, instead of getting angry, she smiled with embarrassment, looking so helpless and pathetic. She was nice, through and through.
After lunch, as we gathered in class and Linda sat down at her desk, I went up to her and said sincerely and more than once, "I'm so sorry," and I gave her all I had at the time -- a dime and a new pencil.
After grade school, Linda and I continued as classmates through our sophomore year at Burlington-Edison High School, before I moved away. Twenty-seven years passed, and I attended our 25-year high school reunion. And there was Linda, as nice as ever, now married and looking more womanly than girlish. As soon as I politely could, I went up to her and apologized again. She wondered what for, and I had to tell her the whole story. She didn't remember the incident, the incident that made me feel terribly guilty for decades, and I was relieved. I'm glad I had another opportunity to tell her I was sorry, and I'm glad she didn't remember why. I only wish that I had brought another dime and new pencil to the reunion for one of the nicest people I've ever known.
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