Shallow Misconceptions This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


While life-guarding ata lake every summer, I've had many conversations with all types of people.Everyone becomes one big community when spending a day at the water, and everyday groups seem to get even friendlier.

A couple summers ago, I met ayoung boy whom I shall call Daniel. While we were opening for the first day ofthe season, he ran up to me and smiled, then gave a quick nod to his mother. Inoticed she was using her hands to sign and mouthing words to him. She saw mestaring and quickly told me that her son was deaf and autistic.

Throughoutthe summer, I swam with Daniel when I had breaks and helped him dig holes in thesand. His peers didn't understand why he acted how he did or why he would makeweird noises. When they asked Daniel to give them back their shovels, he wouldjust keep digging because he didn't have the slightest idea that they weretalking to him. Many children and adults became furious and ignored him wheneverhe came to swim.

This summer Daniel and his mother came to the lake morefrequently. He'd grown, both physically and intellectually. His mother told mehe'd done very well in his first year of school but still had trouble makingfriends. I noticed Daniel had become friendlier and more energetic, which wasnice for me on boring days.

One day, however, people decided they had hadenough of Daniel and his "antics." He had been taking otherkids' inner tubes, supposedly, and bothering little children. Fifteen complaintshad been made to my manager, and parents were telling their kids not to play withthe deaf boy. One woman even told me that Daniel should never be allowed back tothe lake and that he was a disgrace to humans!

The anger built withinme so that I had to do something. I ran to Daniel's mother and told her thatpeople just didn't understand what Daniel has to go through. My boss thought itwould be a good idea for them to leave, though, so he escorted them out. Iwatched in disgust as people jeered while Daniel and his mother got into theircar. I honestly didn't know what to do, except speak up to my boss, which endedup being useless.

The last two weeks of the summer there was no sign ofDaniel and his mother at the lake. I was plagued with guilt that the people Iwork for agreed not to let them return. For the rest of his life, Daniel and hismother will probably be cautious of his actions around others in fear ofdisgrace. Those terrible people ruined Daniel's experience of opening up topeople. I hope with all my heart that his family can forget what happened.

From this experience I realized how we all affect others, whetherdirectly or indirectly. Those selfish people also hurt me because they made merealize what an unfair world we live in. Everyone needs to stop, take a lookaround, and put themselves in another's shoes. Understanding might be the key tohappiness and equality, but so far nobody seems to be attempting to understandthat each of us is unique.



This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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