Yesterday, I referred to a young girl who wrote my gardening photos were not “sexy” and that I should stick to photos of my abs and return to fighting MMA because she thought it was sexier than putting my hands in manure. It ...
Yesterday, I referred to a young girl who wrote my gardening photos were not “sexy” and that I should stick to photos of my abs and return to fighting MMA because she thought it was sexier than putting my hands in manure. It reminded me of story from my youth, where I was nearly arrested for a crime I hadn’t committed.
When I was 17, a detective walked into the bank where I worked evenings, and asked me to accompany him to the police station. Paranoid, I started asking all sorts of questions because I couldn’t understand what I could have done wrong. He evaded them until we arrived at the station where he asked me about the diamond I had sold the week earlier.
Telling him of my second job as a lifeguard, I explained how I had found the loose diamond at the bottom of the pool while inspecting the drain after closing. He asked me if I had heard about the robbery at the jewelry store a couple weeks earlier? I hadn’t, but I instantly cringed as I put the pieces together on the story he had assembled.
Explaining that they’d been watching me for a week, he asked if I had found the single diamond, why had I been trying to sell jewelry at stores in several nearby towns. Worried and confused, I said, “That’s impossible as I work nearly 16 hours a day between my two jobs at the bank and at the pool trying to save money for college.”
He chuckled wryly, thinking I was lying, “Why do you look so worried then?”
“Well,” I replied, “You think I robbed a jewelry store for one; and two, I’ll probably lose my job even for the suspicion of it.” Asking if I could prove my whereabouts on the date of the robbery, and the date of the attempts to sell jewelry, I said, “Absolutely. I worked all of those dates.” Then, it was his turn to look confused.
He snatched up one paper very closely, and then another and compared them with earnest. “Spell your last name, please.” I did, “S.O.N.N.O.N.” He dropped the papers to the desk and sat back saying, “I am very sorry for the confusion, Scott, but it seems that we’ve made a mistake. The individual attempting to sell the stolen jewelry is a Scott Sonnen; with an ‘E’.”
My initial reaction was total relief, but then, I thought about my job. Who in the world at the bank was going to believe this story? As predicted, I ended up losing both jobs the next week, though the managers said it wasn’t related to the allegations.
The detective called me to apologize again, “Scott, we had made a major mistake. We know that you were fired from your jobs because they weren’t comfortable with the rumors of your involvement in a crime, despite our insistence that you were innocent. I take full responsibility. You seem like a good kid working hard, and now you’re only going to need to work harder because of our actions. I’m sorry. When you need a reference for a new job, please let me know. I will do whatever I can.”
(Ironically, I now work with law enforcement agencies around the world, most likely because of this one man’s incredible character to accept full accountability for a mistake and offer to help make up for it.)
At 18 years old, I had made a lot of blunders, and I was going to make many more mistakes before I got older. But at that frightening point of nearly being arrested for a crime I hadn’t committed, and regardless of my innocence losing two jobs critical to my future, I realized a stark reality: Who you are and what others think of you are often disparate, and sometimes opposite each other.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “The only person you’re destined to be is the one you decide to be.” Others may think they know of me, but they have no idea who I really am. Not even I do. I AM whoever I decide to become, no matter who others think I was. I’ve reinvented myself many times, because I