Non-fiction writers: You're stuck in an elevator with a person from your past. rite this scene.
This actually happened to me in an elevator and I feel a little bit guilty for the uncharitable thoughts that I had during the elevator ride. It was during my junior year at N.Y.U and I as doing an internship with the Environmental Action Coalition of New York, I was charged with expanding the database and the Coalition's newsletter recipients. I really enjoyed my time there, I was learning quite a bit about non-profit organizational work, I was making friends and I was working for a woman who was not only very nurturing but also inspirational. I wrote my paper about her strengths at leadership, networking, inspiring others to succeed and bringing out the best in people.
Anyhow, my time at college and at my various jobs were where I finally came into my own. My experiences during high school were those of an outsider, a nerd or a geek, someone who didn't fit in. I remember sitting next to the best running back on the football team, he would make fun of me and let it be known that he would never date someone like me even though cheating off my paper and being helped with homework was just fine. He had one blue eye and one green eye and all the cheerleaders thought that he just was the bee's knees. He thought that he as going to go far with football.
Imagine my surprise when almost three years later, I was in the freight elevator going down to the back street entrance of the Environmental Action Coalition expecting several packages from UPS and who is unloading the packages from the UPS truck, but the former running back who sat next to me in biology and made fun of me while cheating off me in order to pass biology so that he can stay on the team. We recognized each other and he asked me what I was doing, which I told him, and he said that he was working full-time at UPS and getting good benefits. I said "that's great, where do I sign" He took his clipboard and my signature and smiled, I said "have a nice day".
At that moment, I felt a little sorry for him because I was sure that throughout his time in high school, he had never dreamed that he was going to spend his life delivering packages. I know that he had aspirations of college football and then onto pro football. I think that he didn't find a sweet girl who let him cheat off her and would tutor him in his weak subjects in college.
I did feel really good about myself and the fact that I had kept my nose to the grindstone and I was still doing well in college and at my jobs after classes. I know in retrospect that at that moment I wasn't being the best person that I could be by feeling vindicated by someone else's lack of success, I could see it in his eyes, that he was a little embarrassed to be seen as a delivery guy instead of the football star that he had been before when he and I were at school together. Even though his dismissive attitude towards me during high school because I wasn't pretty enough or cool enough or had a nice enough body shouldn't have been a justification for my pleasure at seeing him unhappy at that moment. I am not proud of my emotions at the time and I am only happy that I didn't compound my internal insensitivity by saying something mean or condescending to him. At least I have that.