Joseph - Appleton, Wisconsin
Entered on January 28, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe in kindness because you have no idea what other people are dealing with and what is going on in their lives.

In the summer of my sixth grade year, I was playing around in my backyard with my friends, Adam and Sam. After playing a couple of games of basketball with the younger neighborhood kids, we were bored. So we called up our friend, Jordan, and told him to come over to my house. Being sixth graders, we thought it would be funny to play a trick on him. We decided to hide in my tree fort in the backyard and wait for him to arrive. As we sat quietly huddled together in the small tree fort, Jordan stood in my backyard, confused as to where his so-called friends were.

We crept down from the tree fort slowly and decided to scare him. I, priding myself on how fast I was, noticed his brand new yellow hat sitting on top of his head like a shining trophy and decided I would snatch it from him. After a blaze of yelling and hitting, Jordan stood there like a deer in headlights, his bare head exposed, while my friends and I ran off to the neighbor’s house. We expected Jordan to come running after us to retrieve his hat. Instead he turned and walked back to his house while we decided to played more basketball.

The next thing I heard was my mother yelling, “Joseph! Get over here!” When the dreaded middle name comes out, you know you’re in trouble. My mother told me that she had been on the phone with Jordan’s mother and I needed to go over to his house immediately and apologize to him. So Adam, Sam, and I walked the long four blocks to Jordan’s house.

As we got closer, we saw Jordan’s mother talking to a police officer. We all looked at each other, tempted to high-tail it the other way, yet we slowly proceeded forward. Jordan’s mother’s only words were: “Jordan’s in his room.” We all gathered in Jordan’s small closet of a room. We could tell that he had been crying. I stood there clutching his hat. What once was a trophy to me now felt more like a scalding, hot pan in my sweating hands. I laid it upon his dresser as Jordan explained that the hat we had stolen was the last thing that his grandmother had given him before she had died a month ago. My heart dropped to the floor as we once again said our apologies. He forgave us and we started the long walk back to our houses past Jordan’s angry mother and the mean-looking police officer.

I realized on that walk back that you may never know what other people are going through, even the people closest to you. So the least you can do is to be nice to everyone, everyday. Just a simple smile can make someone’s day and that day all Jordan needed was a simple smile and a good time with his friends. Instead I stole his hat which was a symbol of his loving grandmother who had just passed away. I always wished instead of stealing his hat, we could have spent that day hanging out and playing basketball with him because that was all Jordan really needed.