A Not-So Cinderella Story: Karmic Repercussions of High School Forgetfulness

Guest Post by Maddie Gratias (Melissa’s daughter!)


Being the daughter of a productivity specialist has instilled many good qualities in me despite my incessant habit of being late to things. I have color-coded all my school supplies and use a personal planner to write all my assignments in.


I keep my hair brushed, my uniform straight, and I rarely forget things…that is…until one morning when Mom dropped me off at school.


I forgot my shoes.


At my high school, the faculty will send you to the office if you have as much as a shirt tail hanging out of your skirt.


And, I forgot my freaking shoes.


I couldn’t go home because the sophomore class had to take the Pre-ACT and being late would result in being locked out of the testing room. So, I could only face the horrors I was about to suffer by walking barefoot into school like a dirty hippie.


Naturally, instead of owning it and proudly walking the halls with my naked feet, I crept around the back of the main building through the dewy grass like a frightened puppy, praying to God that no one would see me.


Seeking to minimize exposure to my fellow classmates, I snuck to the science building at the back of the campus. However, the condescending looks of the people I passed blazed directly on the grass clippings covering my feet.


I slipped into the girl’s bathroom and called my mom, who was on her way home to retrieve the forgotten footwear. On the verge of tears, I asked her to drive like it was a fast and furious movie. I might as well have come to school in a big banana suit, because, being a teenage girl, this felt like the end of the world.


I finally mustered up enough courage to emerge from the bathroom and attempt to slip into my small homeroom without drawing any more attention to myself.


Then, I heard three words that caused just about everything that could go wrong to go wrong:


Upper. School. Assembly.


My grand plan of hiding in the bathroom and sneaking through a mostly-empty hallway into homeroom was impossible. The entire high school was streaming toward the cafeteria.


So, my socially-awkward self hightailed it across the front of the main building. I thought that I had escaped the sea of people. Then, in sheer terror, I caught a glimpse of Mr. Grahme walking toward me. Mr. Grahme is that teacher known to publicly shame people for everything from wearing out-of-uniform jackets to wearing a skirt he felt was too short (even if it wasn’t!). Very scary guy.


I decided to hide.


I jumped behind an open classroom door and cowered like a dirty mouse until he had passed.


After this dehumanizing event, I kept grinning and bearing this hell I’d created and tiptoed my way towards the cafeteria building.


The shame was far from over, though.


As I walked along the sidewalk to the cafeteria, a popular senior boy caught a glimpse of my mud and grass-covered feet and pulled out his phone. He was adding a video of my predicament to his highly-viewed Snapchat story. I could feel the looks of people that would see this moment on social media.


As I turned away from him, I understood what the villagers must have felt like when they saw the lava at Pompeii. Standing in front of me was my ex-best friend – the absolute last person I wanted to see.


There he was with his new (popular) friends. This shallow, and thankfully forgetful, group proceeded to giggle and stare at me. All I could think was, “Great, more to add to this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad morning.”


I finally made it to the assembly. I was the last person to arrive…almost.


At every all-school assembly, the principal and the headmaster welcome the students into the cafeteria. I stood frozen in the doorway to the cafeteria while the two leaders of the entire school stared at my dirty, bare feet.


I had to sheepishly explain myself to both of them while trying not to curl up in a ball on the ground and cease to exist. I concluded the mumbled explanation by saying, “I promise I’m not stupid.”


With my intelligence secured (and my dignity destroyed), I darted to the back of the cafeteria to my group of friends only to be greeted by sympathetic laughing – which was as comforting as it was embarrassing.


Finally, in the middle of the headmaster’s speech, I received the much-awaited text from my angelic mother saying she had my shoes and was waiting in the parking lot. So, two of my friends graciously helped hide my feet from the faculty when we snuck out as soon as assembly was over.


I finally got to the car and recounted my morning adventure to mom. By the end, she was crying laughing. At least my misfortune brought great joy to my mom.


The moral of the story? No one is perfect and high school sucks.




At least it is high school so no one will remember any of this tomorrow.


Maddie is Dr. Melissa’s 15-year-old daughter and the source of much love in laughter in the household.  




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Dr. Melissa GratiasMelissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at getproductive@melissagratias.com or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.




  1. Lulu Copeladn

    thinking she has a great start for college application essay!

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      I’ll tell her you said so, Lulu! Thanks, Melissa

  2. Jack Payne

    Families are AWESOME!

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      And this story will soon become one of our family legends, I anticipate.

  3. Justin Kolumber

    You were right, Melissa – Maddie is a talented writer!! Really enjoyed reading her post.

    How “fast and furious” did you drive during your shoe retrieval mission?

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      With as much sympathy as I could muster (while stifling my laughter), I let my soon-to-be-licensed driver know that I was going to “obey all traffic laws.” 🙂

  4. Julia

    Maddie, Maddie…lol. Great story and you are in good company. Christian once forgot his shoes in 40 degree weather at an away football game for Colby. There was no going back to retrieve shoes and no waiting in the car in shame… luckily for you both (and us all) high school does eventually end. Hugs

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      That will make her feel much better! At least it wasn’t 40 degrees.

  5. Jim Sabourin

    Enjoyed the humor to start my work day (although clearly not so humorous to Maddie). It’s a reminder that we make things a much bigger deal in the heat of the moment than they really are — especially to other people. And Maddie’s right that nobody else will remember it the next day.

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      …nobody will remember it unless her mom makes her blog about it, right? I loved the ending to her post. There are days when all you can say is “this day sucked and I’m not perfect.” Sage advice.

  6. Tony Sanders

    Maddie, I can assure you there will be other things such as this in life. I remember being at lunch with future co-workers and completely mispronouncing a word (Souffle’) while trying to sound sophisticated and educated. That was nearly 30 years ago.

    Even with the complete mess up, the company hired me and to this day, I’m sure no one remembers but me. We learn from those mis-steps in our life and it makes you who you are.

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      Hi Tony – I was with a client one day and saw a Sunday appointment on his calendar that said “Chalice Bearer.” Not having experience in his denomination, I thought that it was a woman’s name and pronounced it SHA-leese Bear-rur. I did that probably five times. He said nothing and didn’t even laugh. It wasn’t until I was driving home that something clunked in my brain. I almost wrecked the car.

      I’ll definitely share your story with Maddie! ~Melissa

  7. Lydia Ramsey

    Well, Maddie and Melissa, I think you are an amazing pair. Maddie, you have incredible talent. I am already looking forward to your NY Times best-selling book, whether it be fiction or non-fiction. Melissa, your daughter clearly has your talent for the written word; but, best of all, she has your knack for seeing the humor in life. What a gift.I look forward to reading more from the “Dynamic Duo.”

  8. Brian

    Well written and insightful, self-reflective and open: Girl’s got skills. I’m proud of her and laughing ‘near’ her but not at her. Love all y’all!

  9. Michele Humphrey

    As soon as I read the first line of Maddie’s story I was captivated. I may be in my fifties however I remember what it’s like to be embarrassed in high school. I was the girl who left part of my drill team uniform at home for a home football game performance. The uniform hat of all things! What a great writer you are! I could picture the story in my mind as it unfolded. Well, I embarrassed myself this morning. Running errands quickly and checking them off on my list. I hurried to the dry cleaners and paid for my cleaning, but left my newly pressed clothes there at the dry cleaners. I just had to laugh out loud as I drove to work!

  10. Cindy R.

    Thanks for reminding me that:

    Moments that seem like crises now will fade (or be something we can laugh about) in the future.

    Trying to avoid the direct path can often lead to messy outcomes (sometimes literal mud and grass clippings, sometimes figurative).

    Jerks will be jerks (and -my opinion – one shouldn’t waste time/energy trying to change/impress them. We can still hope that with time & life experience they will mature).

    Happiness is greater when we are willing to laugh at ourselves while still honoring our intrinsic value/personal self-worth.

    Thank you for sharing a smile today ?

    • Melissa Gratias, Ph.D.

      These are *wonderful* takeaways, Cindy. Thanks, Melissa


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