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The Effect of an Apology
Something remarkable happened last night at the Vaughn Center, the big athletic center in Aurora. I went swimming with my Mom as we like to do. I thought it would just be a regular, normal swimming session, but an event completely took me off guard.
If you have read all the daily logs and articles about my job as a lifeguard from this past summer I wrote, you will know that me and another lifeguard named Britney, have always butted heads. We worked at Phillips Park water park together and we hardly ever got along. We got mad at each other for the littlest things and were rude. We couldn't accept each other's differences, and therefore we were all-out mean to each other. I don't know about her, but I tried really hard to be nice to her, but when she tried to push me around and bully me, I didn't let her, so I was mean back. We clashed. Everyone, all the other lifeguards and even the maintenance, knew we didn't get along very well. They all saw it.
There is a supervisor named Cesar, and he is the nicest guy anyone could ever meet. I have never seen him mad at all. He is friends with everyone and can't stand it when people are mad at each other. As I said, last night, I was swimming at the indoor pool where the guards work during the school year. Britney was working that night. I walked into the therapy pool for a nice long tread. I saw Britney standing next to the lifeguard on stand, Cesar. While Cesar never stopped paying attention to his water, the two of them were talking about something.
I sat on the edge of the pool, putting on my swim cap. I saw Britney walking towards me. She smiled and said hi and I said hi back. To my surprise, she came and sat down next to me and started to talk.
“Hey, Martina,” She said, “I want to apologize for this past summer. I'm sorry for being so mean to you. Sometimes I have bad days and I'm a total b**** to you. I am to everyone, and I don't realize it. I just have a lot of bad days. I really didn't mean to be that way. I know I was bad. It was all my fault.”
I just sat there, speechless. I couldn't believe this was happening. There was no lye in Britney's voice. And, then, I knew it was my turn. I knew suddenly that I had been being the same way to her all along that she just apologized for.
“Thanks,” I said, “It was my fault. I know I was really mean to you back. I shouldn't have done that, always pushing your buttons. I didn't even realize when I was being like that.”
Britney smiled and thanked me. She wished me good swimming, got up, and went off to do some pool deck mopping. I am truly sorry for the way I treated Britney. I know I was a totally idiot to her, and I wish I could have realized all along how mean I was and apologized myself.
Britney made my day. Now, I can finally have a clear conscience. I always thought she was a total idiot, but I knew deep down all along there was something more, that she could be really nice and really fun. And, I know that she has her problems, too, from home, just like me and everyone else does. Maybe one of her ways of dealing with stress was to get mad at everyone, and she didn't even know, that's just how things happened.
What I honestly think happened the other night was that Cesar talked to Britney about me. Cesar knows my good side and he knows Britney's good side also. He also knows, because he saw it, that her and I never got along. I think Cesar said something to Britney about how I thought she was a really mean person. And, of course, Britney really isn't.
I just want you to know how much that means to me, Britney, what you did last night. It means a whole lot more than anyone realizes. And, Cesar, if that was you who said something to Britney about me, thank you. But, especially thank you to Britney because I know it took a lot to do that.
Forgive and forget; it's magic. I forgive you, Britney.
The strength in an apology and forgiveness is measureless, and so is the strength in thankfulness. After what happened last week between me and Britney, how things were finally mended and her and I can finally drop all of our grudges and anger between each other, I knew I had someone else to thank as well as Britney.
So, today, I was sitting up at the front desk in the aquatics area, acting as cashier since there wasn't one there at the moment. I was signing kids in for swim lessons and unlocking the locker rooms for people. Then, after I had signed everyone in for swim lessons and all the kids and parents had gone into the pool, I sat there alone, coloring a new picture with some Sharpie markers.
I had thought about doing it on Twitter or something, but I knew I had to do it in person. I knew the perfect moment would come.
Then, Cesar came out the pool deck door. He wore his supervisor uniform, ready for his shift to start. He went into the locker room, and when he came back out, I stopped him.
“Hey, Cesar,” I said, “I have a question for you.”
“Okay, Martina,” Cesar said, crossing his arms and leaning on the high desk in front of me.
I didn't hesitate, “Are you the one who told Britney how I thought she was really mean over the summer?”
“Britney, who worked at Phillips Park in the summer.”
“No.” That was the biggest lye I had ever heard out of someone. Cesar's eyes were lying, and it was in his voice.
I wasn't going to let Cesar off the hook that easy. I looked right into his eyes, “you know, what happened the other night. Britney came to me and apologized for everything. Did you tell her how she made me feel really bad and I thought she was a total idiot? I honestly want to know, Cesar.”
Cesar just looked at me and smiled a little. He took his arms off the counter and admitted it, “Yes.” I couldn't tell if he was embarrassed or if he was just being really shy.
I smiled at him with probably one of the truest smile I have ever smiled, “Thank you, Cesar. That really means a lot to me.” I realized I had actually put my hand over my heart.
Cesar just smiled and nodded at me, “You're welcome.” Some kids started to come through the door, and Cesar really needed to get back to work. He held the door open for the kids and then went through it himself, going back to supervise.
I smiled to myself. Every part of what I had said was true and sincere. It was short and simple, but all I wanted to do was thank Cesar. Because, well, he really did mend a lot of anger. He is a real saint. He really is.
I don't know if Cesar or Britney will ever understand how much that meant, what they did.