It’s been a rough week, for a number of reasons that I won’t get into. Let’s just say the last few days felt like I ordered the #3 combo meal from the drive-through at McSuck. For those not in the know, the #3 is the one that comes with a large side of everything going wrong at once. But I digress…
Today, I delivered a substance abuse presentation to a group of 200 7th and 8th graders at an elementary school. The presentation went very well, but this was a tough group. This was easily the toughest crowd I’ve had yet. As middle school kids can tend to do right before 3 P.M. on a Friday, they got a bit restless toward the end of my presentation. Therefore, the Q&A session following my presentation was the shortest one yet.
When it was all said and done, I was particularly run down. I’m still fighting off the worst illness I’ve had since having pneumonia in January of 2012. I sat on the edge of the stage wondering if what I said had any effect. As the kids filed out, one of them walked up to me.
He leaned over toward me and said something quietly. Amid the noise and chaos of hundreds of students leaving an auditorium, it was really hard to understand what he said. I asked him to repeat himself. He leaned closer and said, “I’m addicted to drugs. I need help.”
I spoke with him for a couple minutes and encouraged him to talk with his school counselor to get the help he needs. He was hesitant, so I talked with him a bit longer and encouraged him some more. Just then, another kid came up. The first kid pointed toward him and said, “He’s having trouble too.” I looked at the second kid and he nodded in affirmation, adding, “I get high every day.”
After a few minutes of talking with them and encouraging them, I got them to agree to talk to their counselor. We walked over to her and I told her, “These guys have some concerns they need to talk to you about. Will you set up a time with them to do that?” She immediately agreed, and thanked me a few times. I shook both of the students’ hands and told them, “This is a really good choice. I wish that when I was your age I had the intelligence and the guts to speak up like you just did. This was a brave thing to do. I have a lot of respect for both of you.”
As they were walking off, one of them turned around and said, “I have a lot of respect for you too.”
What an incredibly humbling and fulfilling day. I am truly grateful.
This is why I do it.