Kevin, a teenager working part-time at a popular sandwich chain, was referred to mediation. After an argument with a customer became heated, the police were called and Kevin was arrested for misdemeanor battery. A mediation was scheduled to give Kevin and his mother, Sharon, a chance to sit down with the other party to the conflict and a neutral mediator to discuss the incident and its impact on all of their lives.
Victoria, the customer with whom Kevin had the altercation, was eager to participate in the mediation. When the incident occurred, she had no idea Kevin was a minor. At the beginning of the mediation Victoria expressed her surprise at Kevin’s age and, since she has a child the same age, her concern about the rage he expressed during the fight at the sandwich shop.
The mediator created an environment where Kevin and Victoria were able to speak freely and learn that they shared common ground: working for rival corporate sandwich chains. Before securing her current job, Victoria had left another sandwich shop because she disagreed with some of their practices, including the same rules that Kevin was forced to follow at his current job. For instance, Victoria had been furious that Kevin attempted to correct her mistaken order by remaking the sandwich using the same bread. Kevin was able to explain to her that if he had thrown the sandwich away and used new bread, he would have personally been charged 25 cents for the bread. The were able to compare notes and come to a better understanding of Victoria’s expectations and Kevin’s job responsibilities. Kevin didn’t realize that his physical size and behavior had frightened Victoria, because he saw her as an “adult” who wouldn’t be afraid of a minor. And Victoria was unaware that Kevin was at the tail end of an exhausting 12-hour shift.
Victoria and Sharon also had a lot to talk about: they spent much of the mediation talking about mothering teenagers in a pandemic and the challenges that come with it. While Sharon and Victoria talked, Kevin stayed engaged and learned things about his own mother’s struggles that he hadn’t known.
The mediation ended with a verbal agreement among the parties. Victoria promised that she would stop in for a sandwich during one of Kevin’s shifts and he agreed that he would keep an eye out for her and make sure she had a good experience. The mediation gave everyone a chance to tell their story and get new information. All three parties learned they had more in common than they realized and they were able to move forward from the experience with a sense of resolution.