Saturday, April 14, 2012
I gave her a C-
One of them was a "Dear John" letter I received from a girl I was dating while I was in college. She lived back home so maintaining a long distance relationship wasn't easy in the time before instant communication (that was free). I wasn't that surprised by the letter, but it wasn't anything I wanted to be reminded of, so I threw that one away.
The second letter was from a friend I met on a cruise in the mid-90's, who I will call Meagan. I was on the cruise with a couple of buddies, and she was there with some friends of hers. She had a boyfriend back home, but he was unable to come on the cruise. Her group and my group were pretty much the only ones our age that weren't married, so all of us spent a lot of time together during the week-long cruise.
A few months after the cruise was over I got a birthday card from Meagan. (October 7th. Shop early, shop often.) She wrote a very sweet message inside. It was nothing other than friendly, so I mentioned it to one of her friends (who I also remained friends with after the cruise).
A few weeks later I got an angry letter from Meagan. She was very upset that I had told other people about the card, said some mean things about my character, and told me to never speak to her again.
I was confused. I didn't think there was anything private in that birthday message, so I thought there might be more to her anger than what was mentioned in the letter. A mature person would have contacted her to find out the real reason for the anger, resolve the issue, and maintain our friendship.
I was not that person.
Instead, I took the letter she had written me, and I circled all of the spelling and grammar errors, added some notes in the margin, graded it, and mailed it back to her. I had no idea if she was going to read it or even open it, but I mailed it anyway.
What grade did I give her? I gave her a C-.
EPILOGUE: Ten years ago I decided to track down a few people I had wronged over the years and apologize, and Meagan was one of those people. She responded, explaining what really had upset her back then, and it wasn't the letter. In fact, it had more to do with something outside of our friendship. And for the past ten years she has been one of my dearest friends.