If I’d known I could’ve turned your taunts, jeers, epithets, insults, barbs, mockery and general derision into gold, I would have headed down that yellow brick road years ago.
Those of you who also read my Monday and Wednesday Geneva Patch columns know that, just in the last couple a months worth of comments, I’ve been called a “jerk,” labeled a liberal, suggested as being gay, been told I’m terribly insecure, had my intelligence repeatedly questioned, was criticized for being intemperate (that one’s probably true), and virtually accused of beating small children.
My response to all that bleep has generally been, “And I love you, too.”
But apparently, what I should’ve done is had my wife whip out her cell phone, record a video of me weeping and gnashing my teeth in response, post it on YouTube, and sit back while all of you send me some serious cash!
Who knew there was that much money in being a victim?
I’m sure you’ve all heard about the 68-year-old Rochester, NY, area school bus monitor who endured a rather repugnant stream of profanity, insults and ridicule from four seventh-graders until she finally broke down.
Having no concept of the word “consequences,” one of the impertinent little darlings posted a cell phone video of the entire event on Facebook, titled "Making the School Bus Monitor Cry." And then all hell broke loose.
Before we continue, let me clearly state for the record that no one—not even middle-schoolers—should treat a fellow human being with that kind of contempt.
But the truth is, when left to their own devices, seventh-graders sometimes can be a rather nasty bunch. This is why you should never listen to anything a 13-year-old has to say. Don’t they still make you to read The Lord of the Flies in high school?
Please also understand that I have a great deal of sympathy for this woman, and I wish I had been there to put a swift and severe end to the taunting, but as Dear Abby frequently likes to remind us, you’re only a doormat as much as you let yourself be one.
You see, my fondest wish for anyone that’s managed to make it to the venerable age of 68 is that they’ve developed a reasonably thick skin and the capacity to deal with bullies, even if they’re a pack of pre-pubescent morons.
Had I dared attempt anything like that with one of those St. Nick’s sexagenarian nuns, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now, because I’d be deceased, and my parents would’ve congratulated Sister Camilla for taking me out.
What bothers me about this whole thing isn’t those clueless seventh-graders, but our reaction to what they did.
Why hasn’t anyone pointed a finger at the transportation company that darn well knew a school bus is the equivalent of a mobile combat zone? They’re the ones who set up this sad scenario by hiring someone who couldn’t handle the job.
Then there’s a bus driver who was also aware of the collateral damage seventh-graders can wreak and could’ve intervened.
Even worse, in addition to an international outpouring of support and death threats against the 13-year-old perps, a Canadian man with the best of intentions set up a fund to raise $5,000 to send the berated bus monitor to Disney World. As of now, that fund stands at over $600,000!
We do love our victims, don’t we. Though I don’t begrudge her 1 cent, I can’t help but think how all that money could’ve helped the real victims of child abuse, natural disasters and childhood diseases.
This whole story reminded me of Air Force pilot Scott O’Grady who, after being shot down over Serbia in 1995, became an instant celebrity. But I found myself thinking, “Wait a minute. Isn’t this the guy who couldn’t correctly apply countermeasures and had to bail out? Shouldn’t we be celebrating the pilots who actually accomplished their mission?"
So, why aren’t we rewarding the bus monitors who effectively do their job?
This is how this whole non-story should’ve gone.
When I first moved west, much to the delight of his minions, a St. Charles school bus miscreant leaned out the window and repeatedly spit on my car at a stoplight. Then they all started shouting all sorts of unintelligible nonsense at me.
Issuing no reaction whatsoever, I determined what row the middle schooler was sitting in, got the bus number, called the bus company, and then called the principal. Long story short, the spitter and his cohorts folded like cheap suits and were banned from the bus for two weeks.
Case closed. Considering all the current havoc in the world (see Syria), this is the incident that finally gets our goat?
I’m not advocating the law of the jungle, and bullying should never be tolerated in any school. But part of the growing-up process should include the preparation for those inevitable intimidation outbreaks, because the truth is, there are bullies everywhere in the adult world, and when we meet up with them, we’re on our own.
I understand this bus monitor didn’t ask for a cent of that money, but the real lesson here seems to be, in light of a hardship, don’t bother to become a better person, because if you become a victim instead, it can really pay off.
So go ahead, start making those nasty comments. My wife's got her cell phone ready, and I am—literally—counting on it.