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Spirit Day – A Bullying Story

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

SpiritDay-2013With respect to Spirit Day, I’d like to share my own bully story.

According to Wikipedia, bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively to impose domination over others. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception, by the bully or by others, of an imbalance of social or physical power. Behaviors used to assert such domination can include verbal harassment or threat, physical assault or coercion, and such acts may be directed repeatedly towards particular targets.

When I was just 14 years old I got a job working as a busboy at a local restaurant. I was energetic, worked hard for up to 25 hours a week after school. It was my way of being independent and not having to rely on my step dad’s money. I could make my own decisions about what I bought because I was earning $1.00 an hour!

I was a small kid. I was insecure about myself. I was raised by my emotionally ill mother to believe that I had nothing of value to say and could not defend myself. I lived in a home where bullying was the mode of operation. My siblings and I were bullied by my mother every day.

So when I went to work there was a guy named Randy Sheets that worked in the kitchen. He was a little older than I was, probably about 16 or 17 years old. But he also towered over me at over six feet tall. Randy admired the kitchen chef who was loud, controlling, and verbally abusive to everyone. We all attributed that to what we believed to be the temperament of a chef. He was the key player in the success of all of the meals so he could do whatever he wanted to do – or say. Swearing was the main communication between the chef and all of the others around him.

One night Randy told me I was to take out the trash. It wasn’t my job to do that and I was afraid I might get in trouble because I wasn’t out front busing tables and taking care of my own clean up duties. But Randy didn’t want to take out the trash so he would often get one of the bus boys to do it for him.

bullySo, already intimidated by him, with great hesitation I told him I couldn’t take out the trash. In the model of the chef, Randy began to swear at me (much like my mom and step dad at home) threatening me with bodily harm. He began to tell me that if I didn’t take out the trash he’d meet me after work and smash my head into the ground and leave me for dead.

Oh, I took out the trash, but his threat left me in mortal fear for my life. I lived about a mile away from the restaurant and had no transportation so I walked to and from work. For the rest of my time at that job, I trembled every time I got off work. I’d often beg my friend Rex to walk home with me. Or, I’d try to talk another employee to take me home.

I never felt safe again. Randy continued to intimidate me to do things for him. I felt trapped and had no idea how to get out of the situation. It seemed that no one cared about what was going on. No one stopped Randy from his loud manipulation and control. He was just like the chef only much younger and he used his stature and swearing to get his way.

I always wished someone could have helped me. I was afraid to ask for help because I felt stupid, or afraid I’d get in trouble for asking.

Please, if you see someone is being bullied, help them. People who are bullied don’t often know what to do. Bully’s pick on those that will not fight back. They pick on others who already show a sign of weakness.

Standing with someone who is being bullied can help them to believe in themselves because you care enough to help them. It’s a leg up to better ways of handling their lives.