mugged a stranger on the steps on the American Museum of Natural History.Thirty-five years ago, Michael Goodman
Goodman, then a teenager, held up Claude Soffel for his bus pass.
"I went up to [Soffel] and said, 'Where’s your bus pass?' The cops immediately pulled out badges and arrested me," Goodman, now 53, told the New York Post. "I told this story throughout my life. I felt so bad about it."
Goodman was sentenced to three weeks community service. He never forgot Soffel's name.
Last month, Goodman finally had the opportunity to apologize to Soffel, now 52, for the incident that has haunted him for more than three decades.
Goodman spotted Soffel's name in a Facebook post about a closed bagel shop, H&H Bagels. He used the comments section to come clean.
"You may not remember this (about '76 or '77) but a long long time ago I walked up the steps of The Museum of Natural History one afternoon, trying to look like a tough guy to [somebody] & saw you standing there at the top of the steps, I walked up to you & (mugged) you for your bus pass," Goodman wrote.
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"I'M VERY SORRY that you had to go through that crap that day long ago, I wish it had never happened but it did. Like I said I was trying to look tough to impress some guy who didn't believe I was in a gang, pretty frickin' stupid huh ? So once again I'm truly sorry for taking your bus pass back then — forgive me & thanks for reading this 'strange' & very long message!"
Soffel read the message and responded graciously.
"Clearly your [sic] a 'bigger man' today. wow. Memory is a funny thing, I recognize your name now, as well. So, apology accepted. Interestingly, I have dedicated a large portion of my life to helping other men be the man they have always wanted to be, and moments like this one continue to fuel my faith that the battle may be uphill but so rewarding. Any man who draws aline for himself, 'Today I step forward for myself, my family, and humanity' is a hero to me. So let us now, jointly, put this in its proper place, behind us. With respect, Claude Soffel," he wrote.
The two men continued to message back and forth, now both part of a viral good-news story.
"A very large weight has been lifted off my shoulder," Goodman told the Post. "I feel peace and dare I say joy. I'm even happier this is bringing joy to other people."