Bullying has impacted my life and the lives of my family members and so I am very intolerant of it. As I was going through some writing prompts, I saw one that asked writers to write about an experience with bullying. So here goes:
When I was in high school, I saw students showing livestock at the fair and knew I wanted to be a part of that. So first chance I got, I enrolled in the Agriculture program at my school and was soon a member of the Future Farmers of America (FFA). I raised a lamb and two pigs at the Kern County Fair and was involved in some contests.
The bullying incident occurred while I was on the Cotton Judging team. I had befriended a girl, we’ll call her Lilly. She was a freshman and was new to the FFA, but she was a godsend to our cotton judging team. Our agriculture teacher saw potential in her. She did really well during practices, made stellar reasons for her arguments, and was a joy to hang out with. I remember she always wore her long, dirty blonde hair styled in an edgy, rocker do. Her thick eyeliner and low socioeconomic status made her an easy target for the rich preppy girls on our team.
I was also from a low-income family and found it easy to relate to her. Most of our team was composed of rich girls who had nice houses and less than a care in the world. So I guess there was bound to be some bullying taking place.
One morning we were all crowded in our agriculture classroom getting ready to head out to another city for a contest later that day. FFA members have a certain uniform that they wear. For girls it was a black skirt, pantyhose, a white collared shirt, an FFA tie thing, and an FFA jacket. There might have been other parts of the uniform, but I can’t remember right now. What I do remember is that on this particular day, Lilly had forgotten her tie. She hadn’t realized she had forgotten it until we were already at the site of the competition.
She was understandably nervous about informing our Ag teacher, because he had specifically asked if everyone had their uniform ready before we left the school grounds. We had all replied in the affirmative. Lilly didn’t want to disappoint him. She came to me with tears in her eyes and explained the situation.
I had a lot of faith in the resourcefulness and kindness of our Ag teacher, and so I told him. He shocked me, by replying with very stern remarks and an angry, red-faced expression. I don’t know if he was stressed that day or what, but Lilly did not take it well.
Keep in mind that the entire morning, the preppy girls on our team had been poking fun at Lilly, and so Lilly was not in the best state for dealing with an angry teacher. I told Lilly it would be ok and that we could share ties if at all possible.
Now anyone who has ever participated in FFA contests knows that before the contest begins, the girl’s bathroom is always full of teen girls checking themselves in the mirror, ensuring that every part of their outfit and hairstyle is in its proper place. This day was no different. As my friend, Ivy, and I ventured into the bathroom, we saw a very upsetting sight.
The preppy girls were bunched in front of a bathroom stall. I could hear their words spilling out like venom and knew immediately who was hiding in the stall. Poor Lilly was upset and crying over her tie and our teammates’ harsh words. Ivy and I immediately set to action and got those little brats away from the stall. It took a while to reassure Lilly that those girls didn’t matter and to get her focus back on the contest.
Karma got them though. If I remember correctly (and I do), Lilly walked away with an award that day, while those rich girls just watched.
The thing is that the bullying didn’t stop there. A few weeks later we had another contest to attend. This time, one of the rich girl’s parents was going to be driving our van to the contest. You can imagine how that went.
It was early in the morning and we were all supposed to meet in the school parking lot. My friend Ivy & I were running late. Our teacher always said that if we were ever late, that the driver was to leave anyways, even if some of the team members were left behind. So that’s what I expected to happen. Instead, Rich Mama waited for us. As soon as Ivy and I got to the school van we were greeted by a very unhappy Rich Mama and her daughter.
Rich Mama scolded Ivy and I for being late while her daughter was in the van making fun of Lilly. This was way too much for my teenage mind to handle. I told Rich mama that she could have left like the teacher had told her to, and it was her decision to wait for us and make the rest of the team late. I also told her that it wasn’t like her daughter was winning any prizes anyways and that Ivy and I had been winning prizes (This was true as Ivy and I had been winning ribbons at other contests prior to this encounter). Rich mama looked upset, but we all loaded up into the van and set out for the contest.
Of course, I was scolded the next day at school by my Ag teacher. He said that I was lacking humility by talking to Rich Mama like that. I told him my side of the story, but it didn’t matter.
Sometimes it never does I guess. After all, Rich mama was part of the Alumni Association for our school’s FFA chapter and she contributed money to the chapter. Why tell her anything and risk losing sponsorship? I guess money clouds many people’s minds, no matter how well-intentioned.
I walked away that day angry for what was happening to Lilly and why the adults wouldn’t do anything to stop it. I was also angry at how Rich Mama felt she could treat my friends and I. Why does money separate people? Who made a rule that people from different socioeconomic classes couldn’t get along?
By the time I graduated high school, Lilly was doing much better. Of course she didn’t hang out with those preppy girls, but she had found her own niche and was prospering there. I don’t know what happened to her after high school. Maybe I’ll try and get in touch. Food for thought.
Til next time,