Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A New Social Low

I hate to sound like I'm getting old and jaded...but what is with kids these days?

At 22 years old, I honestly thought I was past being high school bullied. For those who don't know, I hated nearly every minute of high school. My experience of it was filled with pushy, bossy, cruel peers intent on tearing down every shred of self-confidence by both overt and sneaky, passive aggressive means. It was a world where everyone is equally as scared and insecure, and yet simultaneously believe that they are completely alone in their intimidation, and where many took to bringing down those around them in order to feel better about themselves (something I would later learn about as a "leveling mechanism" in anthropology and be fascinated by, hmm).

Having said all that, I thought I was done with it. Today I was proven wrong. Today as I walked from the bus stop to my house I passed the local high school which was just letting out for the day. City buses were sitting in front of it waiting for the hordes of students to organize themselves and get on, and there were probably about a hundred students milling about and doing student type things. I ignored them and kept walking up the sidewalk. Was that my mistake? Out of absolutely nowhere a guy standing with a group of other guys puts out his hand and deliberately shoves me sideways, causing me to side step to catch my balance, and land both feet sinking in to a giant muddy puddle. They laughed uproariously at my expense.

I was dumbstruck. I shot them a dirty look, and walked on, being too shocked by the experience and too poor at thinking on my feet to come up with a more appropriate response.

What would have been an appropriate response? How do you deal with someone who will arbitrarily assault a complete stranger?


Stacey said...

Oh Haley. I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I was reading the opening paragraphs. High school was just like that for me, too. I am appalled that someone would do that to you completely out of the blue.

I have one college friend in particular who had a rougher life than I, she even spent some time on the street when she was younger. Some high school boys started verbally harassing us once and she pushed them aside and used some, ah, choice language. I don't know if it would be an appropriate response. But I probably would have yelled at him then looked around for any kind of supervisor. Your response was probably the safer one! I'm so sorry that this happened to you.

Mum said...

The one time someone did something like that to me in high school, I reacted entirely instinctually, without even thinking: hauled my hand back and smacked him across the face as hard as I could.

I am still astonished that the shy, cautious girl I was back then could do such a thing.

However, satisfying as it was to see the look on his face and hear the jeers of his "friends", instantly turned into his tormentors instead of mine, it was undoubtedly not a wise thing to do.

But really? Don't you just wish you could knee him in the balls? HARD?

Jackie said...

I've been hit on the head twice with snowballs. This year AND last.
And I'm in different countries.

Okay, the snowball in the head thing is mostly funny.

Haley said...

Stacey: Thanks for the sympathy. It wasn't fun, that's for sure.

Mum: You know, I can see you doing that.

Jackie: I wonder what it is that makes snowballs seem less abusive/more funny than mud puddles?

Jackie said...

I think it was the fact that you were pushed. Deliberately.

I like to think they weren't actually aiming at my head.

The one thrown from the moving van hurt a lot. The one in Belfast was just 'oh, I was just pelted in the head. Again!'

SassyBelle said...

dude. I was driving by a high school when this kid stepped out into the middle of the road to make me swerve, because I thought I was going to hit him. Instead, I ran into a median with a "Wrong Way" sign (no kidding). I flattened the sign, ripped up the front end of my car, and was crying and shaking with rage. The cops came and the principal came out and the kids got in trouble and the judge made them pay restitution on my car and the sign...

high school students are idiots. i'm so sorry that happened. I think the only appropriate response is to do what you're comfortable with. I probably would have said something like, "Was I in your way? An excuse me would have sufficed." And I might have cursed. (That cursing part would be not appropriate.)

I'm so sorry that happened.