He Sprayed Atomic Balm in My Underwear!

Authenticity Kindness Respect


Key Point: When you do things to people that are mean spirited or demeaning, even without intended malice, it might come back to haunt you. Sometimes, it returns many years later. Although it may be tempting or you’ve rationalized the intended behavior (e.g. “they had it coming”), taking action that embarrasses or humiliates someone is wasteful and of no value to anyone, especially you.

A humorous and somewhat trivial example reinforced this point for me. 40 years ago I played college football (No… Our helmets weren’t made of leather). Locker rooms are usually a lot of fun, full of good-natured pranks, teasing and jokes. Most of it serves as constructive team building. My freshman year, we were coming off a national championship season, had a winning team and a great locker room. The next year wasn’t as successful, and consequently the locker room was less fun too. I remember this guy in particular, one of the best players on the team, spraying my underwear with liniment (think Icy Hot) that made wearing them impossible to say the least. Go ahead and YouTube some “Icy Hot Pranks” if you want to see the painful results.

At the time I was ticked off for a bunch of reasons… I thought it was childish and untimely. People that know me understand I love practical jokes and pranks. Perhaps I was thin skinned on that day, but I just didn’t appreciate anything funny about it at the time. I haven’t seen or heard from this person since that year (he graduated and went on to play professional football). Then this week, 40-plus years later, he contacted me. He was seeking a favor. Frankly, that ancient incident is insignificant and I’m genuinely interested in helping this person and saying hello again. However, I’m just amazed how the world works and how many times we cross bridges with each other, often in the most unexpected times and ways.

Character Moves:

  1. Be MINDFUL of all our actions, big and small. Unfortunately, based on our limitations as people, we are all likely to unintentionally do things that hurt others. They WILL likely remember how we made them feel. They might not hold a grudge, or have residual hurt, but it is difficult for people to forget the experience. They most often remember the feeling forever.
  2. Do not ever think what you do doesn’t matter because your relationship is meaningless or temporary. Every relationship is meaningful. It is amazing how, where, and when the connection returns. And for some interesting reason, timeliness is often not favorable to us when we treat other people poorly.
  3. On the flip side, when we bring value to others, give of ourselves and make people FEEL GREAT, they often show up in the best possible, unexpected way to lend a hand. We do not have to run around trying to be liked by everyone, but intentionally and mindfully leaving every interaction with a positive feeling, even in difficult situations, is the constructive path to take.
  4. And never, ever spray anything, without permission, into anyone’s underwear… Haha.

Do not hurt in the Triangle,