Over the next two weeks, college students across the country will drive to exotic locations for their spring breaks. Knowing this makes me think back to my younger days as a spry young man. I fondly remember those spring breaks, but one of them comes tainted with a big mistake.
(Feel free to pause your reading and make a comment about what you think the mistake will be before I tell you. You’re back? Okay. I’ll proceed.)
The year was 2001. The previous year, I had gone to Breckenridge, Colorado with my friend Jon and a few of his friends. Jon’s parents owned a condo right on the slopes, meaning that it was ridiculously easy to come and go as we pleased. Jon’s parents were there, but they didn’t get in the way of any “crazy partying”–they were lovely people, and his mom was a great cook.
We had a great time, so Jon invited me back the following year along with a few other friends. This is where I made a crucial mistake–because I was the only one returning from the previous trip, I felt like I could invite people too. So during a casual discussion in early January about spring break with one of my girlfriend’s friends, Ben, I told Ben that he could go to Breckenridge with us.
That was my first mistake.
I mentioned the invitation to Jon, and he said he’d put Ben on the list. But a few weeks later when Jon told me the trip was full and Ben hadn’t made the cut (he didn’t know Ben and had no obligation to him), I didn’t tell Ben. I wasn’t hiding anything from him; rather, it simply didn’t occur to me to tell him. In my mind, our original conversation was far more hypothetical than it actually was.
That assumption was my second mistake.
So…three days before spring break, I get a call from Ben asking where we were meeting for the drive. I didn’t hang out with Ben (I only knew him through my girlfriend), so I really hadn’t seen him much that semester. And now the trip was upon us, and he was ready to go, and I had to tell him that he couldn’t go.
Ben was devastated. And mad. Quite mad.
It was too late for him to make other plans for spring break, so he just sat around in the dorms for a week while I snowboarded (and by “snowboarded” I mean “fell off a mountain with a snowboard attached to my feet”).
The main lesson here is to not offer other people’s stuff as if it’s your own. We do that all the time without realizing it, and it can be inconvenient for some and hurtful to others.
The secondary lesson is to be more aware of the way other people perceive things. Ben took our casual conversation to mean that he was officially on the trip; I should have seen that, but I didn’t.
Have you ever made either of those mistakes?