As I dressed in my grade school uniform, I tried to drown out the “first day of school” lecture my mother gave annually. “Smile, sit in the front row, make sure your dress isn’t tucked into your underwear when you leave the bathroom, be nice to everyone, and never let anyone sit alone at lunch.”
Even at a young age, this advice seemed painfully obvious to me. I grabbed my new one-strap transparent Gap book bag and I was on my way to school where I would, undoubtedly, listen to those things my mother constantly reminded me to do.
When I saw someone sitting alone, or kids picking on one of their classmates, I was always disgusted by the fact that any human being could treat another human being like that. When I graduated high school, I was thrilled to be leaving the petty and sometimes relentless immaturity of grade school and high school. Never, in all of my wildest dreams, did I ever think I would witness it happening again, especially not in the cafeteria at Mercyhurst College.
I will be the first to tell you how much I despise bullies. Nothing irritates me more than someone who thinks he or she is superior and tries to prove it by belittlement and embarrassment. I will not embarrass either of the people involved in the situation by printing their names or describing them. But I will say when I was gathering my various items at the salad bar, I heard something along the lines of, “You can’t sit with us, you (explicit word) weirdo.”
I saw the pain and embarrassment in the victim’s face as I had a flashback to my high school days.
I was ashamed of myself as I let the shock overtake me and I missed my moment to stick up for the person. He/she quickly found another place to sit and that moment could not get out of my head the rest of the day. While I did not speak up at the time, I would like to publicly state how disgusted I am with this taking place.
The first rule taught in every classroom all over the world is “treat others how you would like to be treated.” I cannot believe, at this time in my life, I am still getting nauseated by people being mean to each other. I would like to believe, being at an institution of higher education, we would carry ourselves with more respect and dignity for our peers rather than humiliate and degrade them.
It embarrasses me that this has even come up and that the realization has sunk in that there will always be people like this in the world. I hope the person who did this is reading this and knows that what goes around comes around, and while I wish this upon no one, I will tell you — it’s a lonely place on the other side.