Some more Hummerdingers



                                           BULLY ME AT YOUR OWN RISK
                                                               By Lou Goldstein

Some people like to bully other people. They do this either physically or verbally. I don’t bully people and I sure as hell don’t like being bullied. Neither should you.

If you are being bullied there are some things you should keep in mind. First of all, understand that it is not your fault. The bully is the one with the problem. Also, know that if the person doing the bullying thinks you won’t do anything about it they will continue bullying you.
So, you must  take a stand and confront the bully. This does not mean that you should bully them back. Resist the temptation to act or say something nasty back to the bully. This will only fan the flames of the fire growing inside the bully. You are letting him/her know that they have gotten “under your skin” and will only encourage them to intensify their actions.

The bully wants to be in control of the situation so your first goal is to do something that neutralizes his control. This can be done in different ways. Use your head and think about the various ways you can do this.

If you are being bullied verbally you might initially just try to ignore him/her. Sometimes if you create the impression that the verbal attack isn’t bothering you then the bully might just lose interest. If that doesn’t work you might suggest that they calm down and try to change the subject.
The next step calls for you to be assertive. This doesn’t mean being mean or rude. It just means that you stand up for yourself. Stand straight and be firm and confident. Look the bully in the eye and in a calm non-threatening way simply tell him/her that you don’t like the way they are acting towards you and you would appreciate it if they would stop.
You don’t need to be loud or abrasive but you do need to be heard, so speak authoritatively and concise. If the bully is saying things about you are not true don’t try to deny them. If you do it will just bring more attention to what the bully is saying. No matter what, you must always remain civil. Becoming too aggressive could lead the bully to become physical and further escalate the situation.

If you are being physically bullied be prepared to defend yourself, walk away, or go for help. Usually the bully will back off if you show that you are not afraid of them and will go on to someone who shows they are afraid. However, it is still better to defend yourself with some action the first time than it is to be constantly under attack.

Here is another story about my childhood that defines being bullied and one way of dealing with it.

When I was in fifth grade and attending a public school in Pittsburgh, PA a very traumatic event occurred in my life. The school was located in an area that on one side was kind of a rundown area. We lived on this side. On the other side was in what was called the“projects”. These were government funded housing projects. The demographic make up was basically African Americans, Hispanics and Caucasians with the Caucasians being the minority group.

In those days you didn’t automatically get passed on to the next grade. If you flunked your classes you were held back and had to repeat the grade. That resulted in some cases where guys 18 years old were still in 8th grade. Some of these “guys” were in training to be the “gangsters of the future.” I was smart and always graduated to the next grade so the principal offered me the position of being on hall patrol.
This was a very responsible position offered only to those intelligent and wise students who could recognize what a hall was… and who could speak English. The advantages of being on hall patrol was that you were allowed to leave your last class early so that you could get to your assigned post before the last bell rang. You also were given a really neat shiny badge to put on so that everyone knew who you were. In some cases, as we will discover in a little bit, the really shiny badge also was a disadvantage because it identified you as a“target” to some people.

My duties were to see that no one tried to “sneak out” of school before the final bell and to oversee an orderly movement of students though the halls as they were leaving school on their way home. We were to report attempted muggings and other forms of attacks to the principal’s office and we were to answer any questions from those student’s who were lost or who didn’t know where the bathrooms were. Actually, we tried to convince the students (for various reasons) that it would be in their best interest if they could hold off going to the bathroom until they got home.

One day, as the halls were clearing out and I was ready to leave my post and go home, I was approached by 3 of those “future gangster’s" of the future. They were African Americans and one of them (his name was Ron) seemed to be having a bad day because he had cut himself shaving that morning.
Anyway, he said, “ I have a message for you (that’s spelled t.h.r.e.a.t.). Every day, beginning tomorrow, you bring me 25 or we will take care of you in the playground when you leave school. We will see you right here and you better give us 25.”
Now let me translate and explain his declaration of facts and intent. What he was saying was if I didn’t bring him 25 cents … (You didn’t think dollars did you? Dollars were for rich people. Dollars would be from some other school district) … he and his buddies (gang) would meet up with me at the concrete slab outside the door as I was leaving and proceed to beat the living “you know what” out of me. Anyway, I mumbled something that to this day I don’t remember and they left me there wondering if I could make it home before going to the bathroom.

I ran home and into my mother’s arms. I was crying and blurted out something like“I’m too young to die” or “Mommy, I need to rob a bank before tomorrow.” My mother calmed me down with her special way of hugging and loving manner and after hearing the sordid tale of what just happened to me assured me that everything was going to be all right. I knew then I wasn’t going to die. I figured she had an idea of what bank we could rob. I found out later, when my father came home that wasn’t going to be the plan.

My mother confronted my father when he came home from work and told him of my predicament.

My dad looked at me and said, “Son, don’t you worry. Tomorrow, we are going to confront this bully and teach him a lesson!” I was thinking that maybe we would escape Pittsburgh and move to some other city, or maybe even another country and my dad was wanting to “confront.”? My dad went on to say that the plan would be for me to meet him at a designated place after school and together we would show this bully that we weren’t afraid of him and that would take care of the matter.
He said, “If you let yourself be intimidated by a bully you will ALWAYS be bullied by him. If you stand up to him he will leave you alone and find someone else to bully.” I always thought my dad was one of the strongest men in the world and now I was beginning to think he was also one of the craziest. I said, “Dad these guys are big and mean and vicious and killers and……” Dad stopped me and went on to say, “Louis (I was no longer son) you must trust me, I know what I am doing. Besides, you will do as I say!” We then identified the place and time where I would meet up with him and I had dinner and went to bed.

The next day I went to school and fitfully watched the minutes and hours pass by until it was time for….HALL PATROL. Sure enough, as the halls began clearing out I could see my new friends (gang) approaching. Ron glared at me and said in his most menacing voice, “you got my 25?”
Somehow, I found courage within myself (emboldened by the fact that my dad was waiting outside) to say to Ron, “No, I don’t have anything for you and I never will.” I looked Ron right into his eyes (I was looking UP due to the fact he was much bigger than me) and began wondering where the closest bathroom was. Ron looked at his friends (gang members) and said, “ OK guys, let’s go wait for this idiot (meaning me) outside.” He then looked at me (glared) and said, “See you soon dead man.”
They left me wondering what was I going to do with the last 5 minutes of my life when I remembered that my dad was outside and going to protect me.

I left school and walked outside to the concrete slab affectionately referred as the school’s playground. Sure enough, there was Ron and the rest of his gang across the way. They started coming towards me and I ran to the sidewalk to meet up with my dad (about 100 feet away). The gang was behind me chasing after me and I reached the place where my dad was supposed to be and ……HE WASN’T THERE !!!!!!...

My life started passing through my eyes. You know, the childhood years growing up in a nice house with a yard, flowers and white picket fence, etc. etc. Then I realized, I was about to be killed and the wrong life was passing through my eyes. I looked to my right and I saw my dad’s car driving towards me. I rushed to his car… with you know who behind me in hot pursuit. My dad stopped and got out of his car as I ran into his arms.
When Ron and his gang (army) saw my dad they stopped and scattered. What is it about adults (dad’s) that scare children (even hard core gangster children) ? I looked up and saw that they were gone and told my dad, Thanks dad. Can we go home now?”
He said, “No, son (at least I am son again) it’s not over yet. Come with me.” He parked his car, took me by the hand and together we walked back into school. He asked me if I knew Ron’s full name. I did and told him it was Ron Wilkes. I told you this incident was a traumatic event in my life. How else would I remember, not only the fine details, but even Ron’s full name?
But wait until you find out what happened next. My dad went into the administration office while I waited for him in the hallway. He came out a few minutes later and we walked back to his car and got in. I asked him if we were going home now and he said, “First we have a stop to make.” Thinking maybe ice cream, I asked, “Where are we going?” He said, “We are going to Ron’s house !” “WHAT !” I exclaimed. “WHY?”

 My dad explained, “Louis, (what happened to son?) at this point your bully has only seen you run away from him into your father’s arms to get away from him. Our job is not over until you confront him, with my help, so he won’t bother you again. My plan is not to fight with him….it is to talk to him. I will let him know that even if he beats you up (thanks dad) you are not going to let him intimidate or bully you. I will also let him know that if he beats you up (thanks again) he will be getting himself in a lot of trouble that he will be sorry for.”

Don’t ask me how my dad got his address but he did and we began our journey to “Ron’s Place.” Along the way, I began thinking about what my dad had said and I realized that he was right. I had escaped today’s confrontation but tomorrow was another day and my dad could not leave work every day to protect me. I could see the veins in my dad’s neck bulging. This was a tell tale sign that he was in an intense and determined mood. When the veins would stick out in my dad’s neck it meant “stay away, don’t mess with me, I mean business !”

We drove into the project area. This was a collection of 4-plexes. Two downstairs apts. And two upstairs. There were no yards and no parks. There were“play areas” which like our schoolyard consisted of some scattered concrete slabs. There were some basketball hoops and occasional swing sets and hop scotch areas.
We found our way to Ron’s address. It was a ground floor apartment with a small alcove… along with a staircase separating the two ground floor apartments taking you to the two upstairs apartments. My dad knocked on the door (sorry I don’t remember the apartment number) and the door was opened by an adult male. My dad talked to the man briefly and was invited inside the apartment. I remained outside in the alcove sitting on a chair.

After about 20 minutes guess who walked into the alcove? It was Ron. He saw me standing there right in front of him … where he lived … all by myself… looking at him. I have no idea what was going through his mind at that time but my mind was saying “Do something, stupid (meaning me) and do it, NOW !”

 My decision was to do something smart and clever. I immediately screamed as loud as I possibly could, “DAD, HELP ME!” The door opened, and the person who came out of the door was not my dad. It was the adult African American male who had opened the door originally. It turned out that this was Ron’s father. He immediately grabbed Ron (I think it was by the ears) and pulled him inside the apartment. This left my dad, who had come out of the apartment behind Ron’s father, and me, alone in the alcove. My dad said, “OK, we can go home now.”

On the way home I asked my dad what he said to Ron’s father. He told me that he merely explained to him what his son was doing at school. Ron’s father told my dad that he had no idea that his son was behaving in that manner. They then had a brief discussion about minorities sticking together (meaning them being African Americans and us being Jewish) and when my screams of “DAD, HELP ME !” were heard by them (I think they were also heard as far east as Philadelphia) Ron’s dad bolted to the door and you know the rest.
I have no idea
what Ron’s father said to him but the next day at school Ron approached me and merely said “no more problems...we’re cool.”

There were absolutely no racial overtones here. I was raised to be color blind and to make my judgments about people based on what is INSIDE them …not what they looked like on the OUTSIDE. No big deal…that’s just they way it was.

My dad proved to me that you must face your fears with POSITIVE action and don’t let anyone bully you. Stand up to a bully and in most cases the bully will stand down.
I also thought that there was some luck involved here. I mean, what if Ron’s dad was an adult gangster training his son? That’s another story for another day.
See you next time,