Here’s a photo of me with one of the “most reviled men in America,” as Nightline put it. And no, it’s not Donald Trump.
Yep, that’s me, hanging out with a known pedophile, though I didn’t know it at the time. He’s wearing a race number in that photo, but soon he’ll be wearing a prison number instead. In 2010, I met Jared, the Subway guy, briefly at a 5K race in Indianapolis that was hosted by Subway. There were also kids there. Which makes this photo super creepy in retrospect:
A few months later I got to ask Jared a few questions on a group phone call, which I had forgotten about until I searched my old blog archives. I got the questions from my readers, and it’s too bad none of you requested I ask if he’d ever crossed state lines to have sex with minors, because that would have been one hell of a scoop. Instead I asked him who designed his glasses. (Burberry, if you care.)
These revelations have reminded me that you can never know everything about someone. People can always surprise you, but I don’t think I’ll ever be surprised that they can surprise you. In the past few years I’ve had two friends be accused of awful crimes. In both incidents my first reaction was, “There must be some terrible mistake.” But as the facts came out, it became obvious that there had not been a mistake, there had only been terribleness.
In both cases people online referred to my friends as “monsters” and other names, and when I read those comments I felt an urge to say, “I understand where you’re coming from, but it’s a bit more complicated than that.” It doesn’t excuse the crimes they committed, which they deserved to be punished for, but people are more than just the worst thing they’ve ever done. I believe Jared Fogle deserves to go to jail for a very long time, and the crimes he committed were awful, causing damage to numerous lives that will never be undone. But I also know it must be rough on his family and friends right now who thought they knew him, but in the end didn’t know him well enough. It’s hard to balance the good memories with the bad.
You may know what the guy standing in the photo next to you has been eating, but you never really know what he’s thinking.
My only hope is that this works both ways and people are also doing lots of kindhearted, good things that you never discover. Sometimes you hear about someone anonymously donating millions of dollars to a worthy cause, or you see a story on that business man in Kansas City who hands out $100 bills every Christmas as a secret Santa. Do their family and friends know about that? Maybe not. So hopefully my friends are also doing good things I never hear about, be it something as small as holding the door open for an elderly person. You may never really know people, but hopefully that’s not always a bad thing.
Just proves that 1) things live on forever on the internet and 2) fame and money really corrupts some people. So creepy that he turned out like that after being a positive role model for so many people.
Rebecca in SoCal says
Talking about standing next to somebody…I have wondered if we can ever truly know somebody? Even in marriage (unless you’re the type who leaves anything unsaid, and even then?) Identical twins, perhaps (but they don’t have the same experiences.) So as you said, it is not surprising that people have an endless capacity for surprising.
I love the idea of people doing good things you don’t know about. Surely those random acts of goodness surpass the others. Great post.
Sue B says
I dated a guy who, almost 10 years after he dumped me, went to Federal prison for doing something very similar to what Jared did. Seriously dodged a bullet on that one though I didn’t realize it at the time.
I did think about you when the news came out, as I remembered you writing you had met him. I wondered how upsetting it had been (for you to hear). One thing when it is a total stranger. Different when you have met them or they are from your area or friend of friend, etc.
Ruby Leigh says
I’ve been reading your blog a long time and when this story first came out my mind went to that interview you did and I had to wonder what you were thinking. Thanks so much for sharing. I totally understand what you are saying.