Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Apology

Today I heard something incredibly moving. It’s not something we hear often and it is probably something that we should hear a lot more. It was an apology. And it moved me to write this blog.

A man, Fernando, called in to the radio this afternoon because he had done something that he was not proud of.

He began by telling the story of his friend’s funeral yesterday. His friend had died in a motorbike accident because he was run off the road by a driver who was talking on his cellphone while driving. Fernando’s friend was riding with his son when he was knocked down. The son survived but his Dad suffered extensive brain damage and died. Fernando’s voice shook with emotion as he described how much his friend had meant to him and how this senseless loss had impacted him. His grief was palpable.

As I listened to Fernando speak, I was thinking – in his emotional state, surely it could be understandable that he had done something he now regrets?

He continued his story by telling us listeners that after the funeral, on his way home, another driver nearly drove into him while she was chatting on her cell phone. His emotions – grief, anger and frustration – just got the better of him. At the next robot, both cars landed up stopping next to each other. He got out of his car and starting screaming at the other driver. He banged on her window and shouted profanities. This was the moment he was not proud of. Through his cloud of grief, he noticed the panicked look on the woman’s face and immediately felt bad for what he had done. At that stage she had driven off leaving him feeling that he needed to find a way to make amends for his behaviour. Remembering that he heard her radio playing the same music that his radio was playing at the time, he called into that same radio station and asked for forgiveness. His voice was filled with regret. He understood that no matter what he was going through, his behaviour was unjustified. Feeling sorry for what he had done was not enough of an action for Fernando. He actually phoned in to the radio station and asked forgiveness of this lady, hoping she would be listening to the same radio station today.

I was moved to tears listening to Fernando’s story. It is a story filled with sadness, grief and courage. Fernando was able to admit his mistake in public, to many listeners, in the hope that he would connect with the one person who needed to hear it. That is power beyond description and its impact is far-reaching.

As I listened to this call, I thought of the many times where I had the thought – let me just make this one quick call even when my car kit hadn’t yet connect to my phone. Or while idling at a robot, sending off a quick text message. How often does it happen that we don’t quite finish typing that message when the robot turns green and just “quickly” finish as we pull off? How often do we hear the beep of a message coming in and say to ourselves “let me quickly read it in case it’s urgent?”

In Fernando’s words… what can be more urgent than someone’s life? Pull over and do what you need to do. Then, drive on.

Fernando, your message was one of absolute courage and power. First to admit your mistake and then to apologise for it. With your act of courage, you also impacted many listeners that day, me included, who will think twice about puling out our phones while we’re driving. We’ve also learnt the power and value of a heartfelt apology.

Thank you for your strong message and for your courage. We can all learn from you. My condolences for your loss. May you find peace and joy again soon.