One Mistake

For two fifteen hour days in the biggest poker tournament of his life, Jimmy had played perfectly.  He was already thinking about his chip count for the next morning’s start when the director announced the last hand of the night.  Folding would be just fine with Jimmy, eager to get some rest, but he looked down at pocket tens in middle position and felt compelled to raise.  The only stack bigger than his called from the button and when Jimmy made a set of tens on the flop, he never saw the other guy’s set of jacks coming.  

A salesman worked for ten years at the same company and was a leading candidate to be promoted.  After meeting a young, female intern one morning and typing what he considered a light hearted email to a male co-worker about her looks, he accidentally sent it to the entire office staff.  His boss had no choice but to fire him the next day.  

A university president spent twenty years creating programs, wooing financial donors, expanding reach and resources for her students and faculty.  She covered up one scandal for fear of the damage it would do to her school’s standing.  When the same scandal made national news five years later and reporters revealed her actions, the board of trustees forced her to resign.

Exhausted and upset with himself for playing too aggressively with middle set against a bigger stack, Jimmy did the only thing he could think to do: he went to sleep and registered for a new tournament the next day.

9 comments:

  1. Another great one. I feel like this is very poignant with all the stories going on today. In order to prevent a comment war, I won't mention the lightning rod one that came to mind. But it did remind me of the Cleveland Browns beat writer that accidentally texted the world that he hates the Browns owner. The paper just fired him after 20 years of service. For one Tweet that he thought he sent to one person. "One Mistake" can be a lifechanging event. Thanks for the read

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  2. Thanks, Jay, for the comment, in particular for the story of the Browns beat writer being fired over a tweet. It's incredible to me how quickly and easily fortunes can change. I focused on the negative here, of course, but thank goodness it can go the other way too.

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  3. One mistake can alter your life and take you in a direction you never expected to go but the big questions that hangs in the air here is did you learn from it, or do you just keep repeating that one mistake again and again ^__^

    I really liked this Richard,

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  4. Maybe it's just that the piece so short, but it feels the most tightly written of your work. It delivers its payload with nothing that feels like excess; the trimmings are just the lives of the characters. Dug it from the opening line, Richard, which pulled me in as much as anything I've read all week.

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  5. In a way this felt quite positive. I know Jimmy's stuck in a loop but the fact he'll live to fight another day is oddly uplifting.

    I agree with the above about tight writing.

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  6. I can't imagine how the tune would go, but this feels like it would be perfet as a song.

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  7. Helen, thank you. I like your point about that question hanging in the air, whether these characters will repeat their mistakes or learn from them.

    John, thank you very much for the kind words, they mean a lot to me when they come from you because I have the utmost respect for your talents and judgment.

    Peter, I loved reading that you felt this story had a positive feel, the ending was meant to suggest the potential for second chances. And thank you for the compliment.

    Bevimus, that would be a lot of fun for me, to hear any of these stories set to music, thanks for mentioning the idea.

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  8. Great examination of the mistakes we make, and I like the way you bring it full circle back to the first mistake, and how it leads on to another.

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  9. What an interesting piece! Comparing mistakes of the past that come back to haunt their makers... great writing!

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