Walk with the wise and become wise;
associate with fools and get in trouble.
Proverbs 13:20 (NLT)
On Wednesday I was driving on a business trip with a colleague. We were chatting about experiences of our childhood and I recalled an experience I had not thought about in a long time. I was twelve years old. I had gone out for pizza with a couple of guys who were a few years older than me. They were guys I’d known from a team I was on, but I didn’t know them well. The pizza joint was packed with a standing room only crowd on this particular friday night and a line of people were waiting to get a table.
We were finished with our pizza and my elder teammate said, “Come on, let’s go.”
“But we haven’t paid,” I said reaching in my pocket.
He leaned over the table and said quietly, “We’re not going to pay. Let’s go!”
Scared but feeling an acute case of peer pressure, I stood and followed my two friends out of the restaurant. My heart was beating out of my chest as we began walking back to my friend’s house. The other two laughed about getting away with a free meal and quickly moved on to other subjects. I, however, couldn’t stop thinking about what I’d just done. I knew that what we’d just done was wrong. I knew that I’d just cheated our server who might likely be liable for our bill. My conscience was screaming at me. I can still remember hearing a police siren in the distance and being convinced that the pizza place had called the cops and an All Points Bulletin had beein issued for my arrest.
We were never caught, of course, but I never stopped feeling guilty about the incident. A few years later I went back to the restaurant and talked to the manager. I confessed what I’d done and gave him more than enough money to make up for the bill and the tip. He looked at me like I was crazy, but my conscience was clear.
I never hung out socially with those two guys again. I can’t recall making a conscious choice, but I think I just naturally realized that it would be foolish for me to hang out with friends who would pressure me to do something like that. This morning I took a moment to recall the names and faces of guys I eventually chose to hang out with through high school and college. I was fortunate to have great bunch of wise guys who constantly challenged me to do the right things. To this day I’m grateful for each and every one of them.
An index of Tom’s chapter-a-day posts (tomvanderwell.wordpress.com)
We all Follow Footsteps…Choose Well (tomvanderwell.wordpress.com)
Sewage and the Source (tomvanderwell.wordpress.com)
Living in the Mystery (tomvanderwell.wordpress.com)