Second Chances

I believe in second chances.

I’ve seen them arrive in my life from many directions. Sometimes given to me and sometimes given by me.

When I was in Junior High School, (yes, there was such a thing at one time), I lived so close to the school that I had to walk back and forth each day. There was a short way and a long way. The short way was initially my preference because it meant I got home for cookies sooner. The downside was that there was a group of bullies that often walked the same way.

A friend of mine, who walked with me, and I were consider great sport for them. Insults and taunting, snowballs in the winter and threats and chasing whenever the mood stuck them. Not fun! And remember, this was long before bullying was taboo in schools.

Somehow my friend and I made it to Senior High School. The bullying subsided, probably because, in addition to living far enough away to be able to ride the bus, they were fortunately on another route.

Fast forward about twenty-five years.

I was a Branch Manager for Albany Savings Bank and had just transferred to the Delmar branch. Part of my job was to interview and hire all of the staff. Applications were forwarded to me for review by Personnel. A batch came one day and guess what? One of my candidates was one of the kids that bullied me in Junior High School.

I had total control over who I interviewed.

So, what to do?

I was curious about him. How had his life unfurled? Was he still a bully? Would he remember me? I wanted to find out. So, I had Personnel set up the interview.

A few days later it was his appointed interview time. I saw him as he walked into the branch. He showed no signs of recognizing me, not even my name, when I introduced myself. During general conversation he understood I’d gone to the same high school he did and during the same years, but nothing else. Not from his side or mine.

I liked him. I could tell he’d led a troubled life but was trying to put things back together.

I hired him on the spot.

He did a good job as a teller. Not flawless, but respectable, and he was very good with our customers, which was a high priority for me.

It seemed that when I was called upon to oversee any of his transactions, he was a little nervous. It was like this every time.

A few months later apparently, he couldn’t stand it any longer. He came out front to see me.

I looked up and he began speaking, “Rob, you know who I am don’t you? You know I used to give you a hard time on your way home from school, right?”

“Yes,” I said.

His baffled look told me a lot. “Then why did you hire me,” he asked, obviously confused?

“Because,” I responded, “I believe in second chances…yours and mine”.

It didn’t appear that he understood, so I continued, “by hiring you, we BOTH got a second chance to see who we want to become in this world.“  

I am very glad that I made the decision I did. I think he was too.

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4 Replies to “Second Chances”

  1. Rob: This is so like you! I was very moved by your willingness to forgive/release the past and create a second chance for both you and your employee. It’s uplifting to know that such kindness is not a fairytale but is happening for real, right in our own area, and is probably happening all over the world. Thank you for this blog!

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    1. Something inside me knew hiring him was the right thing to do, without knowing why at the time. I’m glad I figured it out before he asked me.
      Thanks for your kind words my friend.

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  2. Another story with a happy ending. I like these stories best.
    And got me thinkin, and wondering, do kids still want to hurry home for some cookies?
    And yes, so generous of you, and sounds like you listened to that small seemingly silent voice within,, to hire the former “bully.”
    You had changed and so had he. No more running away. You both got to stop and see each other, and now saw each other in a different light. A new light.
    And by giving him a second chance , as you said , you got a second chance too.
    So often we dismiss others, who like ourselves , are not perfect. Hello. Join the human race.
    Possibly a reflection on ourselves, has to be. You are me and I am you. Oneness.
    So if I don’t allow another chance/choice for someone else, how often do I dismiss myself?
    Not good enough.
    Can’t do it.
    Not smart enough.
    You get the picture., right?
    Yes, give yourself a second chance, or third or fourth etc.
    And as you ease up on yourself, this may be translated to others.
    Sounds like could make for many happy endings.
    The end.

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    1. I love what you wrote and always find a great deal of meaning in what you say. Thanks for passing this along to me (and the other readers).
      PS- I contacted the Town Historian to get her take on the pillars and see who she suggests I pursue this with. Will keep you posted. Thanks for the ‘nudge’.

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