Don’t Burn Bridges in Life (Seriously)

I consider myself a nice person. You know, publicly.

I feel that every human deserves to be treated like a human. I talk to every human like a human. I see no point in drawing class distinctions, boundaries of pride, nor ‘necessary’ ostracizations of certain peoples.

Besides this natural bent toward non-jerkiness, I’ve found polite treatment imperative to future conversations and relationships.

What do I mean?

I refer to the old adage to “not burn your bridges.” In my younger and more foolish days I thought I would never see most of the humans around me again. Others’ comments about “high school doesn’t matter,” “everyone makes mistakes,” and my young tendency to not consider the future all contributed to that mindset. Don’t get me wrong -I was and have always been a precocious thing. Even given that, I assumed I wouldn’t have to face the people I met at a future date.

That perspective also had help from there being no Facebook at the time…

Fortunately, I only used my ignorance a handful of times. I slipped up at work, wrote a scathing note to some girls in junior high school, typed up a fiery e-mail to someone I barely knew once, and had an embarrassing exchange with a friend in my twenties.

I do not write about keeping one’s bridges intact because of a big mistake. I write, instead, from times in which I’ve realized the error of my perspective from positive situations.

Two years ago, for example, a teacher at my children’s school asked me if I’d want to do content writing for a relative of hers. I took the job and worked at it for 9 months. That position gave me necessary professional experience for a writer’s resume, plus a relationship with someone still working in writing fields.

Through a love of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I started a blog named A Wife, My Verse, and Every Little Thing. I saw others who referenced this trilogy, formed friendships, and was even invited to help judge a contest over at The Carrot Ranch.

A girl I babysat grew up and was babysitter to my own children. The daughter of my husband’s former CEO tended our two-year-old for a few weeks when I had my last C-Section. A good friend, looking for part-time work, ran our dice store for nearly a year. Just last week, I joked about my children with another random mother at Costco; and she called me by name and remembered we’d been college roommates.

No, we don’t “never see” people again. People live a long time. (You know, usually.) People know other people. People are related to someone you might work with, dated a guy you got angry with online, or taught preschool to the person bagging your groceries.

We are all connected, in The Circle of Life. It’s beautiful.

On that note, how have you seen this phenomenon in your life? Did you run into an old flame? Get hired by a former acquaintance’s relative? Accidentally cut off your elementary teacher? What happened?


Check out what I wrote this week:
Wednesday, September 11: Wrote about what I like about where I live in “Welcome to Utah; Wanna Stay?.”

Thursday, September 12: Posted “A Tribute to Frank Prem.” Check out his site and his poetry!

Friday, September 13: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Joem18b and Tiredhamster!

Saturday, September 14: Announced the 43rd Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is a free-verse poem about secondhand sales. PLEASE ENTER!

Also, “The Problem with Being Karen;” a three paragraph story about Karen, a victim of her name.

Sunday, September 15: “The Stupidity of the Sexes,” in response to Carrot Ranch‘s prompt.

Monday, September 16: “Wilhelmina Winters, One Hundred Four.”

Tuesday, September 17: An inspirational quote by Hugh Laurie.

Also, “Celebrities with Mental Health Issues: Dwayne Johnson” over at The Bipolar Writer Collaborative Mental Health blog.

Wednesday, September 18: Today.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. I wrote “Kids and Credit Cards (The Magic Money),” “We Don’t Point Guns at People,” and “Happy Hour for Parenting.”


©2019 Chelsea Owens

40 thoughts on “Don’t Burn Bridges in Life (Seriously)

  1. I’ve only seen one person from my past. He hated me at one job we both worked at; later, he was at another job that I’d been hired at… he still hated me. No one knew why.

    But, he should’ve read your column because I was the reason he was let go. Not maliciously, but he just walked out one day when there was an emergency assignment and called in sick the next day. So, they asked me to step in and I did. Suddenly, he wasn’t indispensable…

    Liked by 1 person

          1. I kept someone from getting hired once: A little weasel who constantly commented on my idleness, despite the fact that I’d done literally twenty times the work he did. I left the job. Later, they were looking at resumes and asked if I knew the guy. I said, “You don’t want him in the office”.

            Only did it once and it was warranted…

            Liked by 1 person

  2. I had kind of the opposite experience. As a young teenager I had a minister speak to me in a very negative and hurtful way. Growing up I actually had forgotten about it when he came as a guest speaker at the church I was attending – now in my 60’s. He was embarrassed when he found out who I was and apologized profusely for his comments. I’m not sure he believed me when I said I did not even remember, and I felt a little sorry for him.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Totally agree with this one! There are so many people that I thought I’d never see again, yet today they have re-entered my life and some of them are close friends! You never know where each person will show up later in life, so I’m glad I’ve learnt to hold my tongue and treat those around me with respect (even the ones I’m not so fond of 😂), who knows! They might be my children’s next teacher 😳

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Part of why I’m in therapy is my ability to work myself into a grand rage and burn the absolute *shit* out of some bridges. I see the phenomenon from the “crap can’t talk to those people anymore.”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Once – on the last day of the High School year, a student of mine named Simon came to me and called me every name under the sun, none of which I could even type here in abbreviated form. The next day he needed a reference!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree with treating all people with respect. I’ve run into people I haven’t seen for forty years. We start by eye balling each other, “do I know you, have we met before”…..and sure enough. It certainly is a small world.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I think this is why people tend to be more morally decent, honest, and high-trust in small towns compared to big cities—the probability of having to interact again with someone you cheated is inversely proportional to the population density.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is true as well. Although I wouldn’t enjoy things like the entire town knowing my business (like some small-town relatives have experienced), I do like how polite and trusting people are in familiar communities.


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