I’ll never forget the look on her face. She had the look of a bull dog and snarled when she spoke. She was tall and wore all black and sported a few nose earrings. She rode the same bus I did. Sherry was a “skater” and lived in rough part of town, and every day she got on the bus, I dreaded our journey to school.
The bus would pull up and I’d head to the girls bathroom to change for gym. Sherry and her friends would follow me. It was never a pleasant experience. I was always kind and tried to make peace, but every day about 2 minutes before the tardy bell, Sherry and her crew would throw me in the garbage can.
I was 12 and it was 1987. We didn’t have Facebook or Twitter or cell phones. We had garbage cans. Bullying was a bit old school back then but …It was real and humiliating.
They called me Garbage Girl and told me I smelled and looked like ‘****’. Every day that went by, I strategized how to cope. I would sneak into the bathroom and be late to avoid Sherry. I even tried different bathrooms with a 50-50 shot I might miss the humiliation of another dump into the can.
I went home one night and told my Mom and Dad about what was happening. Appalled, my Father sat me down and explained to me I needed to fight back. “Fight back?” Above all else my parents taught me to be kind and to love everyone and to avoid fights. This time though Dad said I had the right to fight back with anyone who bullied me. The thought of doing something about it really scared me.
Empowered by my Dad’s words yet petrified, I boarded the bus the next day and went to the men’s bathroom to change for gym. Sherry and her crew showed up. This time I swung back and it took them by complete surprise. They never looked me in the eye or touched me again, and the boys who got to watch the whole thing laughed about it for days. I was a small hero for a short while those last few months of 6th grade. That day forever changed my life…as a kid and now even as an adult.
Einstein was famous for saying … “The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” If you don’t take control of your destiny, someone else will.
Do something. Stand for something. Swing back. You might surprise someone, and yourself in the process.