John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

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When I was a junior in high school, I sat behind a bully in Physics. He and his friend who shared a lab table with him spent a lot of giving me a hard time and making the class very unpleasant. The teacher, Mrs. Schmitt, was of no help, because she was well past the age when she should have retired and took no notice of anything happening in the classroom.

After nearly a semester of this, I finally got fed up with it. I grabbed the kid's textbook and hurled it across the room, almost hitting some equipment that had been set up on the back counter. That did get Mrs. Schmitt's attention, and she demanded I retrieve the book and apologize. I refused, and for my principled stand I was sent to see the Dean of Student, Mr. Heatherington. I wasn't the kind of student who normally got sent to the Dean of Student's office, so when I entered his office, he said, "What are you doing here?" I explained the situation and what had led to it, and after hearing me out he sent me on my way, unpunished. He may have suggested I apologize to Mrs Schmitt for almost hitting her lab equipment.

I mention this today because my Facebook pal Jennifer W. posted a link to an essay by Wil Wheaton: "I haven’t thought about the kid who bullied me in over twenty years." I don't have trouble believing he hasn't thought about the bully specifically. In my story above, the bully is sort of incidental; I don't remember his name at all, and in a certain sense, he's not even that important to the anecdote. He's just the guy whose book I threw. I don't remember the names of any of the people to bullied and harassed and taunted me in my elhi years.

But so what? The names are irrelevant. What they did is what's important, and I do remember a lot of that. I doubt Wheaton had to think to hard to remember the specific instances of bullying that he mentioned in the second paragraph of his essay. That sticks with you, even after the names and faces of the perpetrators fade, and the memories can continue to have ramifications far down the line. I have self-esteem issues to this day that I think are rooted at least in part in how I was treated by some of my childhood peers.

I won't kid myself into thinking that the #StopBullying hashtag campaign will stop bullying or even slow it down, but there's some value, I suppose, in periodically being reminded that it remains a problem. So consider yourself reminded.
Tags: halcyon days of yore

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