A Belated Apology To The Child Whose Pokémon Gym I Stole

Illustration for article titled A Belated Apology To The Child Whose Pokémon Gym I Stole

Photo: Ulet Ifansasti / Stringer (Getty Images)

In 2016, Pokémon Go took the world by storm, and I wanted to be the best like no one ever was, regardless of who I hurt in the process. As I make my return to the app in 2021, I can’t help but feel bad about a child I bullied all those years ago.

I was walking around the park outside my apartment when a gym came under siege. I can’t remember if one of my Pokémon was in the gym, but let’s say it was. Then, I notice a child around 10 with a father figure of some sort sitting on a bench, taking the gym.

I couldn’t let that happen.

This was back when the game first came out, and you could quickly swipe a gym from whoever made the effort to battle their way to glory. This is no longer possible, at least not if you’re from an opposing team. Probably because of the shenanigans of assholes like me.

I put in my Snorlax and watched to see if I would have to defend against another attack. None came. Instead, I watched from my vantage, a malevolent spy, as the kid’s face turned to disappointment. The father figure asked something I couldn’t make out, and the child shook their head and got up, leaving the park defeated. My heart sank. Sure, I had the gym, but was it worth making a kid feel bad over?

I still think about how I took away the joy from a literal child over a Pokémon app. It’s easily the meanest thing I’ve ever done, which I suppose is not that bad, all things considered. But I’m older now and ready to face accountability. So, if there’s a child out there who had their hopes dashed in 2016 Bloomfield, NJ: I am sorry.

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