As a writer of Young adult books I spend a lot of time observing teenagers. I’ve done it for so long I often find myself creeping closer to unsuspecting kids in conversation all the time. This week, while at the high school waiting for my daughter’s violin lesson to end I caught a doozy that got me to thinking.
A young girl in tears came barreling past me and fell onto the next bench against the wall where I was sitting. Not soon after there came a trailing friend who sat down next to her.
She put her arm around the one crying. “Why did you take off like that?”
“Did you see Mary Nance?” (Not really her name.) “I waved but she walked right past. Am I that awful that she can’t even acknowledge me?”
Now this is the part I loved. Her friend showed great maturity with this response. She said, “Maybe she just didn’t see you.”
I can’t count how many times someone has come up to me offended because I hadn’t waved or said hello the day before when they saw me in my car or in a store. Usually when I’m out-and-about, I’m going ninety-miles-an-hour mentally clicking through the thousand things I have to do that day. Unless you shove your face right into mine, there’s a good chance I won’t see you. It doesn’t mean I’m a snob, or I don’t like you.
Our lives are hard enough without adding grudges for slights that didn’t really happen. Before you have a come apart or decide to hate someone for life, make sure that laughter you’re hearing or the ignoring snub you think your receiving is really directed at you. It’s easy to do. It’s called ask.