When I was a teenager, I had a job as a lifeguard for a local swim and tennis club. Part of my job was to clean the locker room at the end of my shift. I scrubbed the showers, sinks, floors, and toilets.
One day I went in to start cleaning and found a tennis ball floating in a very messy toilet. I was grossed out by the idea of reaching in and grabbing the ball, so I decided I would flush down the mess and then take the tennis ball out. I did not consider the fact that the ball might also flush down the toilet, but that is what ultimately happened. The tennis ball ended up lodged in the plumbing pipes.
At this point, I finished my cleaning and reported a problem with the toilets. I withheld evidence; I dodged questions, and when a plumber finally pulled the tennis ball from the plumbing, I feigned surprise.
I am confident my boss believed me, but I was terrified of the lie I had created. I was terrified I would be fired and humiliated.
I read today that Lance Armstrong has finally admitted to using performance enhancing drugs to aid in his Tour de France wins. The difference between me and Lance Armstrong is that I was a kid, a teenager making $3.80 an hour. In the giant scheme of things, I suppose my lie was small, but my fear over disappointing people was real.
Is Lance afraid? How could he not be. He is exposing himself, admitting his deception, coming out as a fraud. Still, I feel sorry for him and imagine his exhaustion under the weight of the intricate web of lies he has maintained.
I believe, in the end, most will forgive him. Afterall, how often do you hear mention these days of Monica Lewinsky or President Clinton‘s insistence that he “did not have sexual relations with that woman?”
Perhaps Lance’s confession is too little, too late. Still, I would like to send a public apology to the swim and tennis club. I realize it has been twenty-five years, but I’m super sorry I flushed the tennis ball and broke your toilet.