brown wooden gavel on brown wooden table

Judge Me, Judge Me Not

Spilled Milk

When I was 17 years old, I worked in a grocery store. One day a co-worker and I were pushing a giant skid full of milk cartons through the store. The skid was piled high with milk crates and was much taller than we were.  We were using a skid mover, which was being steered by yet another coworker; driver in the front, two “engines“ in the back. 

Those of us pushing from the back thought it would be fun to see how fast we could push this towering skid full of milk through the store, knowing full well that it was dangerous. We didn’t tell the kid upfront, who was steering. He was a total rule follower and a very conscientious worker, so we had to make him participate without his permission.  The skid had reached an impressive rate of speed when the involuntary driver began to protest, telling us to slow down.  We didn’t.

When we approached the curvy part of the aisle at full speed, the driver swerved quickly, causing the entire thing to topple, narrowly missing a customer.  The crash and splatter of the falling plastic milk jugs sounded like  giant claps of thunder.  I don’t know how much milk was spilled, but I can tell you it was a lot!

The store manager was furious and blamed the whole thing on sloppy driving by the conscientious rule follower.  But the accident would never have happened if the other engine worker and I hadn’t been pushing at a purely “punk-ish” high speed. My push partner and I didn’t really like the conscientious kid, but we did feel a little bad about the loud, angry, scolding he was getting from the manager. We thought the kid might even get fired. 

He didn’t, but it wasn’t because of me or the other pusher.  We both stood by and said nothing, as the driver kid was put on some sort of employee probation, and sternly warned not to screw up again. 

The three of us never spoke to each other about the milk incident, although we had attained instant break room fame (or infamy, depending on your point of view). The conscientious kid was ashamed. My push-partner and I should have been ashamed.

We were silent instead.


When I was about 10 years old, we often hung out at our elementary school and played on the playground and in the sports fields. We’d come home from school, change clothes, and go right back down there with the same friends we’d just spent all day with.

There was a convenience store near the school. Outside the store, by the street, was a fiberglass sign that lit up at night.  It was red and white, with the Pensupreme name and logo displayed. The sign was a little worn and even had a few small holes in it. 

One day, after my friends and I were done playing, I decided to take a solo trip to the convenience store. But on the way, I stopped right under that fiberglass sign and sat down. I remember staring up at it, marveling at all that must have been involved in creating it; the cool design, the lighted parts, the pole. Then I noticed the holes. I wondered how destructible the sign was, so I grabbed a handful of small stones from the ground and started throwing them.

The sound that came from the stone cracking through the worn sign was very satisfying. The whole it left was even better. I kept throwing. Even though I was right on the sidewalk by the street, nobody noticed what I was doing. About seven stones in, it suddenly occurred to me that what I was doing was wrong. I was intentionally damaging property that wasn’t mine. I was a vandal! I went straight home and felt horrible for the next few days.


I was never held accountable or judged for my actions in either of these stories, but I would hate to be judged now for my actions back then. It was more than 30 years ago.  The damage, in the scheme of things, was minimal. I am a different person now than I was then. In fact, the me that existed back then has been totally replaced.  

I don’t raise this point to say that criminals should be exempt from their past crimes. Instead, the point is that people can grow and change over time, and we should resist the temptation to judge them now based on what we knew of them then. 

That jerk from 10 years ago might have turned into a truly wonderful person by now. People deserve a second chances. We should do our part to make sure they get them.

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34 thoughts on “Judge Me, Judge Me Not

  1. Thanks for sharing, Todd. I like your reflections here…about how we change over time. Especially when we’re young and stupid. (Some of us become old and stupid, but that’s a detour for sure!) I’m like you…I believe in second…and sometimes third chances and while I know every transgression and situation is different, it’s what I feel, too. Spilled milk or otherwise. 😉

    1. Thanks Victoria! I’ve had some adventures in the old & stupid category 🤦🏼‍♂️ That older and wiser things is true but not exactly foolproof 😁

  2. People have a tendency to live up to our expectations of them. When I was teaching school, I tried to challenge students to improve their performance by believing in them. Sometimes that strategy was very effective. Since we all have made mistakes and appreciate another chance, we should extend that opportunity to others.

    I enjoyed reading about your youthful escapades,Todd and I’m glad you turned out well! <3

    1. Haha thanks Cheryl! 🙂 I 100% agree with your thoughts on expectations and student performance- I did the same as you when I was a teacher.

  3. When we are young we think that we can dare to do anything, we just want to push ourselves over the limits to find out our own limits. I did so many stupid things back then, now I am bit more cautious…and yes, definitely some of us deserve a second, third and even more chances. But I am not sure everyone deserves it. Hilarious and though thought provoking post Todd!

  4. It’s so true! Most of us have done something similar in our youth, and should be more understanding of the foolishness of youth that sometimes means they make the wrong decision.

  5. Our current system of incarceration doesn’t help a person to turn their life around. I look at what the Scandinavian countries are doing, and their rates of recidivism are low as are their rates of criminal behavior. We could learn a lot from them by treating people like people instead of treating prisons like businesses.

    1. Scandinavia seems to have it together on so many levels. Thanks for the great comment Tamara!

  6. Thanks Julia! 😁 I should have been more like you growing up. I didn’t do a whole lot of mischievous things, but when I did, teachers never suspected me as a culprit (my parents did though😅) and somehow I was able to get away with it 🤷🏼‍♂️

  7. As usual a masterpiece. A big smile and seriousness take me for a ride together.
    🙏, Todd.

      1. Not kind, Todd, just sharing what I experience when I read your posts.

  8. Love that you came clean on your own misadventures to make such a wonderful point – yes, people change and we need to remember that and give second chances. Beautiful!

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