A book hit me in the back of the head. Hard. It was a textbook. Introduction To Trigonometry, maybe, or European Classics For Dummies. Whatever it was it was thick and it had been thrown from several seats back.
It was the first day of my sophomore year of high school and the first bus ride home. Things were not starting well.
Kevin, a freshman I didn’t know, was in the seat behind me. He was laughing like a hyena. I punched him.
“Dude,” he yelled. “I didn’t throw the book at you.”
I’m still not sure who threw the book at me, and even then I didn’t care. I should have thrown it out the window but I’m pretty sure the thrower wasn’t the owner; I’m pretty sure it was stolen from someone. I had a sense of ethics. I didn’t want to get them in trouble.
I didn’t want to get me in trouble either, and I was sure I’d be held responsible for throwing a school textbook out a bus window regardless of how it came to me.
So I threw it back. My aim was off and hit my friend Angie in the head.
“That’s it!” yelled the bus driver. He slammed the brakes on and stormed back to my seat.
“You’re going to the principal’s office first thing,” he said, poking a finger in my face.
“Sure,” I said. And I stomped to the front of the bus, pulled the door lever, and got out. I went straight to the woods, cut through backyards up to the condos then down the hill to my house and let myself in through the back door.
The phone was ringing. I answered it.
It was Angie. I felt horrible. I launched into an apology but she cut me off.
“Shut up.” She knew I hadn’t meant to hit her in the head with a book. She didn’t know who’d thrown the book, whose book it was. What she did know was the bus driver and several kids were freaked out by my sudden disappearance. Two of my friends were being driven around by their parents looking for me.
Good, I thought.
The next day I was in my first class of the day, gym, and got called to the principal’s office. I’d later learn that I’d be reported as absent, blowing my perfect attendance record because the gym teacher was a jackass who didn’t pay attention, but that’s another story.
In the principal’s office I told my story. As soon as I mentioned Kevin the principal rolled his eyes and I was told to watch it in the future.
Nobody ever threw a book at me again.
What lessons did we learn here?
- It’s not necessary to fight back against bullies to make them stop. Sometimes bold action is all it takes.
- It’s helpful to know your neighborhood.
- Kevin was a prick. He’s now a moderately successful insurance salesman.