Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Next Generation


One of the most inspiring things you can do as a writer is take public transit. No, really. Anyone who has traveled by bus, subway, or train on a regular basis knows that you come across the most interesting people and situations.

The other day, I overheard a conversation that gave me hope for the future. It's worth sharing.

A small grade-school boy was sitting on a bench at the front of the bus with a much older teenage boy. I originally thought they were together, as they were chatting and wearing similar jackets. But then the teenager moved behind me, to sit beside another grade-school boy.

"You'll understand this more when you get to high school," the teenager said to the younger boy. "But you just don't bully people."

The young boy mumbled an excuse that I didn't quite catch--something about how the kid sitting on the bench brought it upon himself.

"That's how he gets attention," the teenager said. "He probably doesn't have any friends, right? That's how he gets attention. You NEVER bully anyone. They might kill themselves. Lots of nice people have killed themselves because they were bullied."

As the bus trundled to the teenager's stop, a group of teenage girls gathered around the young boy sitting on the bench.

"You have such a cute smile," one of the girls told him. Apparently, the kid sitting behind me had pushed the boy on the bench and taken his Jets cap, which was now back on his head. All of the girls urged the bullied boy not to let such things bother him.

Then they left, and the boy noticed me watching him and smiled. He did have a cute smile. "I don't even know those people," he said.

Sometimes it's worth taking the bus.

9 comments:

  1. That is an amazing story made even more ironic by the fact that I just spent the day marking papers on the topic of "effects of bullying on the bullied." It was one of the assignments I gave for this years writing course and it was a very popular topic. Good for that boy for stepping in. So many would not have.

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  2. What a sweet story - almost makes me want to work with teenagers again :)

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  3. That is a very nice story. It all starts with one person saying, "No more." And this lesson was even passed on.

    And it's a lot better than most of my transit experiences.

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  4. What a beautiful story! Thanks, Holli. That put a smile on my face and got my day off to a good start.

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  5. Holli - I'm going to be sharing this! What an amazing sharing...how wonderful to see people, especially young people, stepping up like that. It gives me hope.

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  6. Thanks for your comments, everyone. I'm glad you felt this was worth passing on.

    It was so cute to hear the teenager say, several times, "When you're in high school, you'll understand", as if that was SOOOO old and wise.

    And the boy's look when the girls clustered around him was priceless. It reminded me of that scene in "The Wedding Singer" when Adam Sandler asks Drew Barrymore to dance with the little boy who is being picked on. That kid will never forget what those teenagers did for him.

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  7. Wow! What a great pick-me-up story. After reading that you feel like you want to pay it forward and do something extra nice to the people around you. There's only 2 guys still left at work, maybe I'll go buy them coffees?

    Thanks for sharing this Holli!

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  8. I think, for me, this is why it is so important not just to give kids lists of dos and don'ts but rather to teach the whys - the teenager had conviction, he wasn't just told 'don't bully', he knew why, and so with courage and kindness, he stepped out and made a difference. This made my day. :)

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  9. I am so thrilled that people loved this story as much as I did!

    @ Drew - It's such an awesome part of human nature that we are moved to do good by the positive actions of others. Did you buy that coffee? If not, take heart that you are an immensely positive person who makes others happy every day. I noticed that about you the first time I met you, and am so elated you can bring that energy and talent to our writer's group.

    @ Zoe - Thanks again for commenting! I do agree that it's important to give a human perspective. The woman I interviewed today wanted everyone to know that when you fill out an organ donor card, you are going to drastically change the lives of real people. I think that teenager was able to do the same by making the bully think of his target as an actual person with feelings. I hope he was successful.

    I'm happy to have made your day. Thanks again for the kind words!

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