For some time something I did back in college has been bothering me. I’d say haunt but I think that puts too much of the pain on me and not on the person who it was inflicted on. The pain isn’t mine to get rid of. I should always feel this way because I did it.
I’m definitely not proud of this but I feel it’s a story that needs telling.
I was a freshman at University of Florida and living on campus in one of the dorms. We lived on the bottom floor and my room was on one of the end of the hall next to
the elevators. Often, there was a flatbed cart siting right outside the elevator door for people to use to take supplies, groceries, what have you up to their floors.
Initially, we would just “surf”down the hallway. Some one would push and someone would get on. You could kind of steer it by leaning one way or the other. We were bored and freshmen, and we made fun any way we could.
On the far end of the hallway was another floor resident named Debbie. She was the
Debbie was an easy target and we decided it would be funny to “surf” the cart into her door when we knew she was in the room and would do so over and over and over again. Surf probably doesn’t do it justice. It was more of a slam into her door and a pretty good speed. I think w could’ve busted the door had we been there longer. We laughed and laughed and thought it was funny. She did complain to us and asked us to stop but that was really just more reason to do it. All through our freshman year we did this. Probably at least three or four times a month.
Somethings Debbie never did? She never went to the RA and told on us. She never hid in her room and never tried to avoid us. She never stopped trying to talk to us. She just kept being Debbie.
We all made it through our freshman year and left for the Summer. Some of us stayed in touch; some of us came back the next year and some of us were even on the same hall or rooming together. I think we had all kind of forgotten about Debbie.
I’m not sure when I started thinking about her again but it has been several years that she sticks in my head. If I could do it all again, I wouldn’t have. I never took the time to get to know her. I never imagined how painful it must have been for her to be picked on incessantly by us. If it did, she never showed it. She was a lot stronger than we were and a lot more level headed as well. We were a bunch of teenagers who had just been begun to navigate adulthood and this was how we chose to behave.
I often wish I could find Debbie. I’d tell her how sorry I am, not expecting forgiveness but because she deserves it. AND it’s the right thing to do. She’s a person just like me and the rest of us and no one should be ever be treated that way. I think now that had that been me, it would likely have affected me for my life. What a cruel thing for us to do to someone we didn’t even bother to know.
So what’s my point here? It is not meant to be cathartic in any way. It’s more in the interest of transparency and a forewarning. Forewarning because my hope is that someone who may read this will think before they mistreat and bully anyone in the future. Transparency because we all have stuff. I know this memory has left me sad, ashamed, embarrassed and clear that I will never do that to another person/ living thing. It’s a hard lesson to learn.
Still, my hope is that Debbie didn’t let us affect her adversely and that the strong woman that I can see now does still exist.
You don’t know it but you taught me a lesson I’ll never forget. Best to you, Debbie.
If you’re being bullied or you want to help, go to The Bully Project.