What I Should’ve Said

Write about a time when you didn’t take action but wish you had. What would you do differently?

I had to think hard about this one, and to my embarrassment, there are probably a few instances, ones that will tardily stir from a locked memory bank, where I probably failed to do the right thing. But, as I sit down to write this, the final moments of high school come to mind.

I was in the guidance counselor’s office. I believe I was filling out Air Force forms. Anyways, a popular kid in my school, a kid on the football team, basketball team and honor roll, walked in that small room.

My back was turned from him, as I faced the corner of the room, and I was hunched over my desk. A conversation ensued between counselor and student. This kid held a rejection letter, one from a prestigious engineering college, in his trembling hands. Any student with aspirations of being an engineer, at least any kid in Wisconsin, was dying to attend MSOE.

His question to the counselor ticked me off. “Why didn’t you tell me I needed this course?”

Okay, that wasn’t what made me angry; it was the counselor’s indifference that made my blood boil. He simply explained what the boy already knew, “You needed this course to get into the program.”

Now, what I wanted to do, what I should have done, was turn to say, “Can’t you talk to admissions? Maybe allow the guy to take the course over the summer? The boy has the intelligence, motivation and temperament to be a MSOE alumn.” It hardly seemed fair.

I didn’t, and he isn’t an engineer. Don’t fret, the man found an alternate path and is a medical specialist. But that moment lives with me.

More to the point, the counselor’s apathy, especially considering his error, which dashed a hardworking kid’s dreams, left an impression on me…and it’s not a good one.

Now, I’m not saying I could have made a difference, but I felt I should have said something. I probably should have reported the incident to the school board. I wasn’t really ticked that the counselor made a mistake, it was that he simply didn’t seem to care. And if he was to be a resource while planning our futures, he should give a damn.

So, even if everything turned out for this particular kid, maybe some weren’t quite as lucky. And maybe, the incident should have been reported. I actually hoped the kid said something.

Have an excellent day!

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