It is a subject we hear about all too often. According to the TV news, it is usually in the schools.
Of course I am talking about bullying.
I was bullied in school. I was a little guy for quite some time, so I was an easy target, just because of my size.
During my elementary years, I was bullied a lot on the school bus, but it never got any more violent than ear-flipping, verbal threats and having my books dumped on the floor.
In junior high, I was bullied in the locker room after gym class. I got flicked with a wet towel a little too often.
In high school, there was a kid who didn’t like my face, so he rearranged it by punching my nose over to the left side.
That guy was the only one ever punished for what he did while I was in school. He had to try it one more time, on a teacher, before they caught up to him.
I’m much bigger now, older and wiser, so don’t feel sorry for me. There were no permanent scars (physically or emotionally). Well, except my nose has never been quite right since.
I could easily spend this entire column or a whole series of columns detailing the evil that has been done to kids by their schoolmates. It’s awful. To hear it from the mainstream media, it is an epidemic. I can’t disagree.
What I wanted to talk about for just another minute or two is the fact that not all bullies are schoolchildren.
I saw one a while back in a drugstore in another town.
This bully was a woman; she was probably five to ten years younger than me. I was the intended victim.
We were waiting for prescriptions to be filled. My name was called by the pharmacist, and I stepped up to the counter.
My prescription was ready, but the clerk at the cash register was not, so I stood there for five or six minutes.
The pharmacist called another name. No one responded.
Another clerk came up to the counter and opened a second register. She said she’d help whoever was next.
That would be me, so I slid over to the other line. The bully stepped in front of me.
Earlier I had noticed she was apparently listening to an audio book or something of that nature on her phone. She had the ear buds screwed into her ears and seemed to be totally absorbed. She hadn’t reacted to the pharmacist calling her name.
I told her pleasantly enough that I was next in line. That didn’t sit well with her.
She immediately turned seven shades of red and told me to get out of her face. I was really surprised that she didn’t swing the aluminum cane she was buying for her mother at me.
I really didn’t want to be part of the scene that was developing, but I recognized her for what she was and stepped around her and gave the clerk my name.
By the way, the clerk had to fish my script out of the basket from under hers. It seems mine was called first after all.
She went from boiling to a full head of steam. I can’t really tell you what she said from that point on because this is a family newspaper. I simply tuned her out, a proven anti-bullying defense.
She must have been a regular customer because they went ahead and took her ahead of other customers who were now in the other checkout line.
Sure, it defused the situation, as far as she was concerned, but what the store did also justified her bad behavior. They fed the bully so she could bully again.
If you want to stop this bad behavior, you have to, according to Barney Fife, “Nip it! Nip it! Nip it in the bud!”
Stop bullying before it gains a life of its own. Kids, adults or even politicians — don’t let them get away with it.
Never mind me. I’m just grumpy.
Tim Renshaw formerly taught broadcasting at Greenfield-Central High School. He lives in New Palestine and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.