Mean Girls

There were some mean girls in my fifth grade class but I wasn’t one of them.  I was a nice girl and I had nice girl friends.  Four of us nice girls had formed a group to work on a school project and we had divided up all the tasks and figured out how we were going to get the thing completed by the due date.  Things were moving along nicely…

…until a girl we didn’t know very well asked if she could join us because she didn’t have a group yet.  We would have said yes.  But when we talked about it, we decided we’d already gotten too far with our planning to work a new person in.  We decided we would ask her to find some other group.  We would tell her that nicely so we wouldn’t hurt her feelings.  And somehow, I was the one elected to call her and relay the news.

I dialed her number and explained, very nicely, that we already had everything all figured out and could she please find another group.  She said, very nicely, that she could.  But when she hung up the phone, the receiver didn’t go back on the cradle just right so we were still connected.  I heard her start to cry.  Then, as I was listening, not knowing what to do, I heard her mother’s voice asking what was wrong and trying to comfort her.  “No one wants me!” the girl wailed.  All I could do was listen to a conversation I wasn’t supposed to be hearing.  Finally, her mother noticed the phone was off its cradle and she hung it up properly.

When the line went dead, I just sat there for a few moments, listening to the silence and absolutely stunned by the awful thing I’d just realized:  You could be a mean girl without even trying.