I must be a damn fool. You'd think by now I would have learned not to trust people being that I've been burned by them so many times. I've got so many holes in my back from the knives that have been planted there that I could rent myself out as a putt-putt golf course.
I never see it coming. People who I think have the highest moral character are the ones who turn out to be wolves in sheep's clothing. They talk a good game about values and honesty and loyalty, but in the end, they prove themselves to be nothing more than narcissistic leaches intent on sucking what they can from you before moving on.
They don't give a hoot what you've done for them. In their minds, you are on this earth to serve them. They take and take, then when you least expect it, they throw you under the bus. Because in the end, it's all about them. They are so wrapped up in their own importance that there's no room left for anyone else. You never find out who they really are until they discard you like a used Kleenex.
Is it any wonder why so many people nowadays are cynical? It's difficult not to be. It seems like the people you help the most are the ones quickest to turn on you. I wish I knew where that came from, that ability to treat others like that. I'm surprisingly impressed by people who can forget everything you've done for them in a blink of an eye. I sometimes wish I could do that.
Actually, I've done it once ... and it still haunts me to this day. When I think of it, a hard knot punches me in the chest. It was my junior year in college, and poor Steve never saw it coming. He was a friend, not a great friend but a friend nevertheless. Steve and I had worked on the school newspaper together in my sophomore year, and we developed a strong bond.
When the time came to apply to be the next year's editor, Steve urged me to throw my hat into the ring. I was the popular choice, and most expected me to get it. Instead, I pushed Steve to apply. I guess I wasn't ready for the responsibility. Long story short, I talked Steve into applying even though he wasn't very interested in the job.
On the day of the interviews, I waited outside as he talked with the faculty advisor. The plan was for me to convince the advisor that I would be Steve's No. 2 in the newsroom to help his chances, as the advisor liked me and actually preferred me for the job.
As I waited to go in, it hit me. I wanted to be the editor. And I knew I would make a better editor than he would. For one, I was a mass communications major while he was a history major. For another, I was more of a people person, even though I had convinced him that he would be able to put together a strong staff. After Steve interviewed, I went in. Instead of telling the advisor how good Steve would be as the editor, I told him that I wanted the job. He said it was mine. After I left, Steve came running up.
"How did it go?" he asked.
"Pretty well," I responded.
"Do you think I'll get it?" he asked.
"It's hard to tell," I muttered.
Needless to say, Steve never talked to me again after he heard the news. Could you blame him? He would just glare at me when I passed him in the halls. I told myself that I would never do that again, and I never have. Like I said earlier, it still haunts me. People shouldn't treat other people like that.
And maybe that's the lesson here. Maybe my punishment for treating Steve like that is for people to treat me that same way, so that I feel, over and over, the pain Steve must have felt when he had to drag himself from the bus I threw him under.
Karma has a way of making one feel like a real fool.