They Joy of Tripping Over a Shoelace

September 27, 2016


An untied shoelace conjures several images for me. I see a young child learning to tie them, an accident waiting to happen, a person busy with activity who is unaware of the untied shoelace, and the physical action of a person tripping. Depending on the situation, this scenario could end in injury or an unexpected surprise.


I have the privilege of working with, and knowing of, many students in my job as a school psychologist/counselor. I know of a young woman who recently moved to a new high school. She left an established group of friends and was starting fresh. She is rather shy, but interested in finding a place for herself in this new school world. She liked her classes and teachers, but found it challenging to bond with this new pool of students.


Thanks to social media, she was still in contact with old friends from her previous school, but she also wanted to make some new friends at the new school. She joined a couple of clubs and was getting to know some of the students in her classes through group work and activities.  Still, she hadn’t yet found  a fellow student with whom she felt a connection close enough to call a friend.


She did all the right things; smiled, observed, worked to remember names of people she met and little facts about them, engaged in conversations, gave compliments, and offered academic help to those who asked. She was building acquaintances, but was still looking for friends – people who shared her interests.


After a month or so into the school year, she tripped over her untied shoelace and bumped into a young man.


“Oh! I’m sorry,” she said.


“Me too. I wasn’t watching where I was going.”


“It was my fault. I tripped.”


“No problem,” he said.


The two started to go on their separate ways, but then the young man turned and called after her.


“Hey, you’re in my English class, right?”


“Yeah,” she said.


“I’m stuck on the last question of last night’s homework. You seem to get what we’re doing. Can you help me?”


“Sure. By the way, I’m Hanna.”




“Nice to meet you, Joe.”


Who knows where this encounter will lead. Maybe they will remain acquaintances. Perhaps they will become friends, or someday develop this relationship into a romantic one. Only time will tell. However, this chance meeting reminds me of a scene out of any movie where two unlikely people meet by bumping into each other in an awkward way and then are forever linked. I’m rooting for Hanna and Joe, no matter how their new relationship plays out.


Unexpected events happen every day. Trip into something beautiful. Spread the joy.




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© 2014 by Wendy P. Jones.