“Punch Tom in the Face”

Yesterday morning at 6:30 AM I sprang out of bed, determined to get to my 10:20 Calculus class on time. Screw the stupid express bus, it goes 10 miles per hour on the Jersey Turnpike. It was the first time I took the train this semester, and to my chagrin, it breaks down, causing me to miss half my class. On the same night, I had to get off at a bus stop that was a 20 minute walk from my house (long story). Next to a creepy forest and a desolate gas station. In pitch-blackness.

The past couple of days—maybe weeks—I’ve been finding myself with my eyes on the ground, with not much of an appetite, and not much to say. I’ve been down, mainly because of my daily four hour commute.

But the story is not called “the sucky life of Alessandra.” I thought I had it bad, up until the moment I got off the bus today and saw what happened outside of a private high school. A cluster of boys in tan slacks and hulking coats lingered around the bus stop, laughing, texting, pushing each other’s backpacks. A party of three caught my attention. One wiry kid particularly felt the need to showcase his overtly large ego. With a sinister grin, he said, “Hey Paul, punch Tom in the face.” This ‘Paul,’ who stood facing forward waiting patiently for the bus, attempting to ignore the churlish demand, was about an inch shorter in height, and had the same amount of grace as a turtle, as he lugged a terribly large backpack-shell over his tense shoulders. Tom, I assumed, was the bully’s buddy from the way he smiled like a dumb horse.

“Punch Tom in the face.” He repeated.

“I’m not going to punch him in the face.” Paul let out an awkwardly fake snicker.


Paul stood there calmly.

“I could knock you out in a second you bitch.” A cacophony of snickers.

“So knock me out.” Paul said, undisturbed.

“Ha.” He attempted to save face. “Okay.”

Paul still faced the other way. The two boys were behind him.

About ten confusing seconds passed, then the kid took Tom’s bulky notebook out of his hand and called, “Yo Paul—”

Paul turned around, only to feel the pang of a notebook being smashed into his face at full speed. Loose papers flew out. His glasses were whipped to the floor, and he stood there, motionless. Without a sound.

Then, the boys’ cacophonous howls of laughter, followed by a distant “Oooh, is he okay?” and “Oh my God” from somewhere in the crowd. Someone picked up his glasses and tried to hand them to him but he was frozen in a state of shock. No tears, just emotionless.

And then I saw myself. I felt the embarrassment and the river of tears when I was constantly bullied in middle school. That throbbing wound in my gut and the pressure behind my ears. And it enraged me, even though I didn’t know any of them because nobody should ever have to go through that. It just leaves me with…why? What have you achieved by doing this? Bullying and cyber-bulling are so prevalent in our culture. Instead of yearning for unity, this social institution craves destruction. Drama. Misery. But why?

As I walked home I realized how selfish of me it was to feel bad for myself when someone is wishing they could escape the harassment and be somewhere far, far away.

This needs to stop.

source: http://larryfire.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/f76201.png

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4 Responses to “Punch Tom in the Face”

  1. Rishi Ajmera says:

    I agree with your point, but I really found the way you told the story to be most interesting. It’s needless to say that bullying should be put to an end, but your story puts the reader into the situation and makes them want to help. I felt as if I was there watching Tom, Paul, and even you in the background. It made me feel helpless but I wanted to take action.

  2. nastassiashcherbatsevich says:

    I appreciate you writing this story and your approach to it. You addressed a very serious problem that perhaps relates to the majority of us at some point in our lives. You effectively portrayed a series of different emotions throughout the story that really kept me engaged. Most of all, I liked how your own point of view changed. You started out by examining your own situation and then moved to look at the bigger picture.

  3. Professor Bernstein says:

    What a story! Painful! Your narrative captured the terror of bullying.

  4. John Scanlon says:

    This story pains me to read, especially after hearing about the girl in Staten Island who jumped in front of a train because she was bullied. Unfortunately, bullying exists all throughout our society and there needs to be a valiant effort to stop it. Like Professor Bernstein said, your choice of words truly captures the horrors that go along with this bullying, leaving many people to feel helplessly lost within themselves.

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