I got a message out-of-the-blue on Facebook from someone I went to secondary school with and had known nothing of for (say) two decades. The message was very short and was simply saying sorry to me for having been mean to me back then. This was my response:
That was a long time ago and I barely ever think back to those days. If I recall rightly you had a very novel way of getting past me to your locker. I think it is funny now.
In adolescence we are still discovering how to relate to others and do lots of dumb things as a result. I came across as too aloof at school - thus attracting some nastiness - even if from my perspective I was just shy. I have improved my behavior since then as we all have.
Thank you for your message which I am most happy to accept. I hope all is well with you.
What was it she did to me to get to her locker? Well it started with her experimentally pinching my bum. For the fun of it? To see how I responded? Coz she could? I was an intensely reserved kid (we were 14 at the time) and very standoffish with the other gender in particular. My response was to jump a mile (or rather move some meters away from her). What started as a bit of fun for her turned into a way of accessing her stuff in the rush to get books once the bell had rung. I suppose it was a very mild form of sexual harasment.
It was however - as I say - a long time ago. And long since then I have made a conscious effort to get over that and the other behaviours sent my way as a gangly nerd at school. I know that in some more extreme cases nerds can take such experiences and project them on wider life thereby perceiving the world as divided between a persecuted nerdy (yet somehow better) minority and a persecuting jock majority. I was lucky to overcome such feelings and get on with life in a society I think has a lot worthwhile in it. And yet...
It must have still been a big thing for me because I was perky for days following the receipt of that apology. I was feeling pretty good with things anyway but suddenly felt that bit better. I suppose it shows the power that saying sorry can have. And I hope it helped her too. She has evidently matured and become more compassionate (a common process I think as we get older). Maybe it just came to this moment over time. Maybe something specific triggered it (one thing I imagine is that she has a child who has entered school and is a bit nerdy). In any case I do appreciate getting that message.
Which brings me to another observation. Conveying a message like that is a difficult thing to do. How much more difficult would it have been if she had had to find me in the White Pages and get on the phone? Chances are it would never have happened. Here then is one instance of how the Internet is a 'good thing' (TM). Modern communcations does bring us closer together.
Cross-posted here. Comments welcome at both sites.