There are several constants in American life. Baseball. Coca Cola. Becoming friends with a truck owner when you need help moving. Things like that.
And bullies. Well, at least tolerating them. Putting up with jerks on the playground has been a staple throughout history. And thank God for that. It’s that kind of resolve and perseverance that motivated Thomas Edison, Charles Schultz, and whoever invented the All-You-Can-Eat Breakfast Bar back to the classroom, to the lab, to the drawing board. They dug out their wedgied underwear and got back to work, hopefully washing their hands somewhere in between. Their refusal to give in helped propel our country.
This is not to say that bullies should be applauded for indirectly steering America to greatness. Bullies are assholes, and I’m sure they exist in other countries as well. Have you seen how European kids dress? If they don’t have bullies, we should export some (kidding). By no means am I giving these punks a pass. I’m just saying that bullies have been around forever and will continue to be around. They’re like bed bugs, but with lower self esteem.
My problem is this: dealing with bullies has drifted into a realm I don’t recognize.
There’s an old adage that says, “It’s not the irritating pest, but how you play the game.” In addition to making up adages, I also pay attention to the news quite a bit. You can imagine my displeasure when I saw the video of a bus monitor lady in upstate New York, Karen Klein, being relentlessly harassed by a handful of students. Very upsetting.
But again…nothing new. Remember…cheeseheads, Hershey bars, lobbyists. America has its constants. However…a few things need answers.
At no point in the video do any of these little snots get a slap to the face or a kick to the ass. Why? This woman deserves the Ghandi Medal of Restraint. And the bus driver deserves the Swedish Medal of Spinelessness. It’s one thing for a child to take this abuse from his peers out of feelings of powerlessness. But when adults are in the picture, the sensation of fear should be reversed. Adults ought to remember what FDR preached: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Kids can try to remember this, but it usually comes out: “The only thing we have to … cool, a brown pigeon!!” (most kids have ADD).
What happened to youth respecting their elders? Sure, most people say you shouldn’t say anything hateful to the elderly unless you’re driving behind them in the fast lane. But I say they should be respected at all times (okay…unless you’re reeeeally in a hurry).
Who wrote the apology letters? After the video went viral, Klein received some apologies. I still don’t believe them. One kid wrote this to her… “I am so sorry for the way I treated you. When I saw the video I was disgusted and could not believe I did that.” So… did his mom write this for him or did his dad? This statement has proper grammar, syntax, zero double negatives, and no misspellings or annoying abbreviations like “TTYL”. An American grade school student did not write this and therefore it should be rejected as fraudulent. It’s like staring at three sets of fingerprints in the lava of a science fair volcano. If these jackholes enjoy youtube so much, why not make a video apology and post that?
Moving on to how we’re treating Ms. Klein.
Once the video hit the web, thousands of people worldwide donated over half a million dollars to send her on vacation. Half a million dollars!!! Apparently they think she deserves a vacation on the moon or a weekend with Lindsay Lohan’s minibar. It’s good to see people stand up and support this woman, but she would have received a ton more if she said “screw this job” and popped a bar of Ivory Soap into every one of these kids’ mouths. Guaranteed.
Even corporate America is getting involved, but it too is a bit strange. Southwest Airlines wants to send Ms. Klein to Disneyland. Are packaged peanuts laced with paint chips or does Southwest normally function with brain damage?
“Listen up, everyone! This lady in New York has been ruthlessly tormented by unruly kids. We should send her somewhere to get away from that kind of behavior. I know…Disneyland! And we’ll throw in a gift card to Chuck E Cheese. She’ll love that! We’re awesome!”
Furthermore, is Southwest the best corporation to speak out against bullying? It seems counter to their other messages.
“We here at Southwest take offense to name calling and hurting feelings. Um, excuse me, sir…you have to buy two seats because you’re fat. Now where was I? Oh yes…bullying has no place in society. Good morning, ma’am…you’re in Boarding Group A and your butt is in Group C. Anyway, America, say no to bullying. We’re Southwest and we approve this…excuse me, sir…yes you…fatty McBigPants…”
If corporate America wants to get involved, I can think of better representatives. Bill Gates, for example. Lord knows how many spitballs he dug out of his ears in high school. If anyone can appreciate what Klein went through, it’s Gates. He could buy her a private island where kids are not allowed and stock the bar with pina coladas. After all, drinking away our problems….just one more American constant.
*No bullies were harmed in the making of this piece…unfortunately.