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.