November 4, 2004 spout

The Importance of Reputation

My youngest son was called into the office today for pantsing a kid on the school playground. That is not at all like my son (he’s the sweetest kid you’d ever want to meet), but the principal was new, so she was talking about suspension. Luckily, the secretaries knew my boy, so they were able to point out the inconsistency of that behavior with the reputation he had built in 4 years at the school. It turns out that the pantsed boy was cutting in line in front of my son, who didn’t like it, so pushed him right back out of line again. The cutter” took a swing, my boy swung back and in the process (they’re only 9) they both fell. My son reached out to grab the boy’s shirt to catch himself, not knowing that the other boy was also falling and got the pants instead, causing the aforementioned pantsing.”

The moral of this story is an old saying I heard when I was a kid and have lived by since: If you rise at dawn, you can sleep til noon.” In other words, if you build yourself a reputation for good things, when occasionally you stray, folks will cut you some slack. The converse of this rule is that if build yourself a reputation for bad things, that could well stick with you for a long, long time…