Old Man Is Mocked in School, Fifty Years Later Receives 26 Boxes, One From Each Classmate — Story of the Day
An old man was bullied throughout his time in school, which affected how he saw himself. He ended up poor and homeless because of his low self-esteem, only to receive boxes from each of his classmates fifty years later.
Michael Smith was bullied throughout his stay in school. By the time he reached high school, his self-esteem was at an all-time low, affecting how he lived.
He was often teased for how he looked because half of his face was covered with a noticeable birthmark that he could not have removed due to poverty. "Hey, dalmatian!" his classmates would tease him.
Michael's worst time of the year was every Halloween when his classmates would tease him about not needing to wear a mask at parties. "You're already a walking costume!" one of his classmates would tease.
"I bet children going trick-or-treating would think you're already wearing a mask," another would chime in.
Even after graduating, Michael saw himself as nothing more than a friendless loser. He distanced himself from other people, and because of this, he never excelled in any work he had.
By the time he was 66, he was a homeless man living in an old pickup truck he had inherited from his late father and his dog. He had adopted the stray dog a couple of years back, and it has stayed loyal to him ever since.
One day, while he was begging for some money on a busy San Francisco street, one of his classmates recognized him. "Michael Smith?" she asked. "Is that you?"
Michael looked at the woman in horror. Memories of his miserable time at school came rushing back to him, and the woman noticed it. "What happened to you? Are you alright?"
The poor man shrugged. "Marissa Harrigan," he said coldly. "My life has always been this way. I had a horrible time at school, never excelled at work, and no one ever fell in love with me because of my appearance. My parents are dead, and I have no one but my dog," he shared.
The woman felt terrible for Michael, especially since she knew she had a part in why he felt that way. She would always laugh at him when they were younger, and she was one of those who scoffed at him.
"I'm sorry, Michael. This is all I have left in my wallet, but I hope it buys you a good meal and some new clothes. It's getting cold," Marissa said, handing him a hundred-dollar bill.
After realizing that Michael didn't want to talk to her, Marissa walked away. However, she couldn't stop thinking about how Michael's life turned out. Even after two weeks, when she had a lunch reunion with her classmates, she couldn't help but share about the encounter.
"He lived his life in poverty because he never got over how he was treated in school. It affected how he saw himself, and he was never able to recover," she told them.
One of those who used to bully Michael shared that he regrets his actions. "My grandson is having a hard time at school now because of bullies, and I'm so ashamed that I used to be one," he admitted. "It affects people, and those traumas stay with them even in adulthood."
"I can't believe it took us 50 years to find out that Michael lived life poorly. What can we do for him? Is it too late?" another classmate asked.
By the end of their reunion, they decided they would invite Michael to dinner.
Marissa looked for Michael and saw him begging for alms in the same place where she first found him. She quietly handed him an envelope before walking away. She observed Michael from afar, as he curiously picked up the envelope.
Michael opened the envelope and found a note that read: "Michael, please meet us at 154 Grant Street today at 3 p.m. Please, come. We look forward to seeing you there."
Marissa hoped that Michael would stand up and walk towards Grant Street, which was only three blocks away. He didn't move an inch. Instead, he stared at a distance as if deep in thought.
After a minute or so, he stood up and started walking. Marissa was relieved and followed him from a distance.
When he got to the address, he saw dozens of boxes all labeled "For Michael." He counted them and they totaled 26.
He opened the boxes and saw many different things like furniture, clothes, food, and electronics. He rang the doorbell, and his classmates rushed to open the door.
"What am I doing here?" Michael quickly asked upon seeing the faces of those who once gave him hell. He counted 26. "Why are you giving me all of these things?"
One by one, his classmates started to apologize for what they did to him. By the time it was Marissa's turn to speak, she said:
"We can't take back a chunk of your life, Michael, and for that we will forever feel sorry. But we hope that somehow, this allows you to live the rest of your life comfortably."
Marissa then handed Michael a key, which he took reluctantly. "What's this?" he asked.
"Those are the keys to your new home. This lovely place," one of his classmates said, gesturing towards the house they were standing on.
"Giving you all of these might not take away all the pain and trauma we caused you, but we hope you accept it so you can live your life comfortably. You don't deserve to live on the streets," another added.
Michael admitted that what they did to him would not be erased simply because they decided to give him a house and other belongings. He lived his life in shame, all because of how they made him feel.
His classmates assured him they understood this and vowed they'd continue to make it up to him. They visited him every week, providing him not just with the things he needed but with their company.
What can we learn from this story?
- Your words can scar a person for life. Michael's classmates did not realize how much they had affected him, to the point that he ended up living in poverty. It is important to be mindful of what we say to others because it can scar them for life even after we forget about the incident.
- You can't take back how you made other people feel. We can control what we say to others, but we can't control how others feel because of it. It's important to be sensitive and respectful to everyone because words can impact a person for life, and we can never take back how we made them feel.
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If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a woman who gives all her savings to a homeless man, only to get a $2 million mansion in return.
This piece is inspired by stories from the everyday lives of our readers and written by a professional writer. Any resemblance to actual names or locations is purely coincidental. All images are for illustration purposes only. Share your story with us; maybe it will change someone's life. If you would like to share your story, please send it to email@example.com.