It was the first day of my Principles of Journalism class, and I walked in to find a seat. Because I know I pay attention better toward the front of the room, I looked for a seat on the second row. Only one was open, and it wasn’t long before I learned the reason. The boy sitting in the seat beside it was simply obnoxious! He raised his hand and commented on everything, and by the end of the first period I knew I was in for a long semester.
The second day of class I walked in and sank into my self-assigned seat. Everyone around me gave me quiet looks of pity. The boy-who-must-not-be-named was engaged in a very heated discussion with the person sitting on his other side, and I tried my best to ignore the whole situation and got my pen and paper ready to take notes. As their conversation winded to an awkward end, I reached into my bag and pulled out a pack of my favorite gum: Extra Polar Ice. As I opened up the new box, I noticed a phrase printed on the inside above all the fresh sticks of gum: “Make a friend today!”
A thought flashed through my mind—”Offer him a piece of gum, Alexis.” Really? A piece of gum? Like that was going to change anything!
Luckily, I decided to follow through with my little thought and I turned to he-who-must-not-be-named and offered him a piece of gum.
He was taken aback. The people beside me looked surprised. He smiled a smile I didn’t know was in him and took my piece of gum with a genuine “Thank you,” and I introduced myself. And from that day forward, we were friends.
It’s amazing what power we all have to help other people feel included. Once I befriended this boy, others followed, and it wasn’t long before the awkwardness between him and the class was forgotten and everyone was friendly with one another. It was just recently that I remembered this experience when I opened up a fresh pack of Extra Polar Ice and was reminded once again to “Make a friend today!” The power is in each of us, and oddly enough, in something as small as a stick of gum.