Thursday, September 4, 2014


When we were kids, my older sister got bullied by some preppy boys whose fathers were big fish in the swampy Florida town where we were living at the time. She was very firmly a nerd, being quiet and studious as well as being dressed in hand me downs that were very fashionable when my cousin had worn them ten years previously. She would come home from school crying and my mother would tell her to just ignore the bullies and they would go away. When I pointed out that wearing a brown dress with ruffles wasn't helping the situation, my mother took her own advice and ignored me. That problem did go away somewhat in the form of my aunt buying us fluorescent pink and black outfits that were the height of fashion in the late eighties. So one day a week, we would be cool and the other four days we struggled. I didn't struggle quite so much because I was a better athlete than all of the girls, with the exception of the competitive gymnast, as well as most of the boys, with the exception of those who were starting to go through puberty. I had occasional snide remarks about my 'Little House on the Prairie' ensemble but nothing like the shoving and taunts that my sister experienced. Then one day I punched one of the preppy boys and that quickly ended all forms of bullying.

When I hear people give advise to ignore troublemakers I can barely contain the urge to roll my eyes. I want to ask them, how did it work out for you when you ignored your other problems? Years ago my company HR told me to ignore a colleague who I reported for harassing me. When he noticed that I wasn't responding, he upped the behavior to daily lewd comments until one day he groped me while pretending to walk by...and I punched him. Do you see a pattern here? After that, another colleague who had been comfortable ignoring what was going one finally was spurred to take the a$$hole aside and warn him to leave me alone. Now that I have a respectable career, I obviously cannot solve my problems in the manner that I used to. Something about maturity, professionalism, blah blah don't punch people in the nose. Of course I also have managed to avoid these unseemly situations, which comes with maturity. The lessons I have learned are to be confidant and strong so that others are not inclined to take advantage of you, but if there is a situation, resolve it head on. Damsel in distress is another term for wimp and that's no way to go through life.

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