i was a boy scout when i was younger and for a few years spent a week each summer at camp earning badges and burning anything in sight. one of those years i took rifle shooting and there were two instructors; one was an older man who was decidedly uncool and a somewhat younger guy (30?) who was seen as the cool one only because in relation to the first, he was.

one of the last nights there was a bon fire at which each class was recognized. those in our group went up for that class and got our requisite applause. as everyone was heading back to their respective troops, making way for the next bunch of snotty, dorky hooligans, everyone shook hands (or more likely slapped hands) with the younger "cooler" instructor. i saw this happening and told myself that i would go shake hands with the older guy because even though he was a bit more uptight he was still good at teaching us and we were shooting rifles after all. but i didn't do it. i went back and sat on the cool grass.

i like to think that as he stood there he took pride in knowing that he taught us whether or not we realized or appreciated it.

all i'm sure of, though, is that he stood there, unthanked and i knew the right and decent thing to do and didn't. it still bothers me.



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