I woke up to the perfect morning for a long bike ride.
Most of the time, I follow a mental check list of things to remember before I hop onto my road bike but I got distracted this morning with my husband’s humor, an unexpected phone call and a dishwasher that needed to be emptied. I was about five kilometers into my ride, when I realized that I had forgotten my water bottle. I was tempted to head home but it was a cool morning and I knew I wouldn’t be sweating too much so I made a plan to ride about twenty kilometers to a variety store and pick up a bottle of water there.
I was thoroughly enjoying the beautiful scenery, the sounds of Lake Simcoe waves, the crisp air temperature and an impressive cadence (considering that I hadn’t been on my bike for a while) but I was getting thirsty so I decided to make a sudden detour into a neighbourhood and stop at the first random house where someone was outside, so I could ask for some water. It took a while to find someone but eventually, I saw a man mowing his lawn so I rode into his driveway, explained my dilemma and asked if I could have a glass of water.
The man was very friendly but I felt a bit uneasy because he was staring at me. He went into his house and few seconds later, he came out with a bottle of water.
As he handed me the water, he said, “I’m sorry if I was staring at you before but I think I know you. Do you recognize me?
Now it was my turn to stare.
“I don’t think we’ve met before.”
The man started smiling and he replied, “Your name is Diane, right?”
Now I was really befuddled.
“Y-a-a-a-h….” was all I could say.
“We went to the same High School. You were really athletic and nice. I was really shy. My name is Jonathan.”
I was still staring at this point but I was beginning to recognize this guy. He was one grade behind me but I faintly remembered him. We had a short conversation, reminisced about “the old days” and when we got to that awkward silence time, I thanked him for the water, said “goodbye” and peddled home.
Honestly…what are the chances of meeting someone from my high school days, 114 kilometers away from the high school we both attended almost forty years ago, by suddenly stopping at a random house in an unknown neighbourhood, ten kilometers away from where I live now?
When I got home, I started thinking about my high school days. Here was this shy boy, who wasn’t in my grade but for some reason, he saw me as “athletic and nice.” I don’t remember ever talking to this boy but somehow I made an impression on him.
We do this to each other. We leave our mark on people. Unfortunately for many, their high school years were filled with people who left their hurtful and destructive impression on them. I’ve taught high school and I heard some really wounding comments from students. Hurt people hurt people…and no time does this happen more often than in high school.
Will Rogers said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” When we meet people for the first time, we have this wonderful opportunity to positively impact their lives – we can bless them with our mouths, our ears and our body language.
Our impression on others can be so much more powerful than our impression of them…so focus on your imprint.