A Few Moments With School Bully, "Rob Dalton"
Meet "Rob Dalton"
Every town, big or little, has one.
Every school, big or little, tolerates one.
A bully. A heartless, selfish, ogre-type male or female who deliberately runs over innocent people, takes advantage of the oppressed and sleeps like a baby at night. I have never figured out this mystery or understood it. I really do not think that I want to.
“Rob Dalton,” was every bit the bully. From his long, uncombed hair to his wrinkled shirt, he was all in all, bully to be feared and people did fear this living, breathing organism of torment, for that was what “Rob Dalton” did with each opportunity that came his way, torment people just for the loud, boisterous horse laugh it gave him.
When I was in the tenth-grade, “Rob Dalton” was much the complexity to me. On one day, he was nice. The next day, he was “Satan’s first-cousin.” I could never see the “real” “Rob” for the cursing, vandalizing and harsh threats he spewed frequently at teachers and students alike. And what amazed me was my school administration was very soft and lenient with “Rob” for they feared a nasty lawsuit from his parents who had obviously mastered the art of looking the other way. “Poor “Rob,” we don’t want to stunt the expression of himself,” they were known to say in quieted meetings.
"Rob" really had it made
Actually, at times, when I was alone in the darkness of my room, I envied the freedom afforded to “Rob” each day of his life. He could jump on anyone he pleased, talk loud and vulgar and never be chastised. I wish now that before I graduated I had grown a backbone and walked into my principal’s office and simply asked, “Why?” I would give your favorite charity one-hundred dollars if my principal, the late Joe L. Sargent were here and could answer me. I am that serious about this issue I am having.
Here are only a few of the things that “Rob Dalton,” was famous for doing:
- This guy would walk up to a girl talking to a guy and start flirting with her without saying "excuse me," or anything. And if the boy talking to the girl acted-up, "Rob Dalton," would either humiliate him with a horse laugh or slug to the jaw or sometimes both.
- "Rob Dalton," would put firecrackers in the boys' restroom and light the entire pack while running for cover. He was so daring that he got away with doing this prank in the girls' restroom. He was the school's "best" troublemaker.
- "Rob" would intentionally put his feet on his desk and when the teacher, mostly a female who might be good looking for her age, would scold him, he would wink at her and openly-flirt with her and him just 17 years of age.
- "Rob" was such a master con artist that he conned a lot of his buddies to go out for football. "Rob" attended two practices, and then went missing. His buddies were so afraid of the coach, that they endured punishment and pain from their opponents for the rest of the year. They threatened to beat "Rob" within an inch of his life, but "Rob" knew the tactics of a sharp street fighter, so they backed down.
- One of "Rob's" favorite pranks was to act pitifully in front of the cafeteria (lunch room) manager, and eat for free. His story was that his dad was an alcoholic and his mom wasn't able to work, so there was no money for him to eat. To make his tale more realistic, he would wear worn-out clothes on the day he wanted free lunch.
- "Rob" got into a shouting-match one day with (a) "Mr. Shindley," the American History teacher and aggravated "Shindley," so much that he started to shove him, but "Rob," knowing what was coming, slapped "Mr. Shindley's" jaws so hard that the older man cried as the school principal accosted "Rob" and physically-removed him from school for two days. Did “Rob” learn his lesson? What do you think? Seriously?
- Since "Rob" was new in school, and in our town, one teacher sent a note with "Rob" to give to his parents for them to come to meet her the next day for an important meeting concerning "Rob's" near-criminal behavior. But smooth "Rob," took full-advantage of the school's never seeing his parents, so he asked his uncle and aunt to show-up as his parents and promise the teacher who was complaining that "Rob" would be disciplined because of the way he treated her. But you know that guys like "Rob" were never disciplined by their parents for they were afraid of him. And the only discipline the "Rob's" of the world ever knew and respected was the law.
- "Rob" loved to smoke cigarettes anywhere he could. But one day he was out of cigarettes and he resorted to pilfering through a row of cars belonging to our teachers. "Rob," with some clever snooping, found out that a couple of the men teachers would smoke during our morning break and after lunch, so he broke into one of their cars and make off with an almost-full pack of cigarettes. The poor teacher reported the theft to the police, but "Rob" was never apprehended.
- "Rob" had a taste for alcohol to go along with his taste for nicotine. On many days he and his only pal, "Jim Burdette," would sneak off to "Rob's" car and sip a homemade Martini that "Rob" had mixed before heading to school. The guys never got caught. But as they walked through the "sea of students" in the hallways, one could smell the aroma of Gin coming from their breath.
I cannot leave you hanging. “Rob” did have a few good qualities:
- He was quite intelligent when he wanted to be for he could “breeze-through” math problems with ease.
- He was very nice, but only when he could profit by being nice to teachers or our coaches.
- He was very sensitive about the ongoing violent protests in our country by (some) who opposed the Vietnam War.
- He “could” be quiet “as a church mouse,” but that was only because some teacher had threatened to give him a failing grade for showing his butt in their class.
- No. “Rob” wasn’t Satan. But by the same token, he was far from an angel.
A few moments with "Rob"
Then one day it happened. No one knew who designed it. But someone, somewhere, we never knew who, came up with a perfect way to deal and cope with “Rob Dalton.” It was a masterpiece-of-a-plan. It worked as smooth as a Swiss-made clock.
It started slowly and gained traction as the school-year rolled on by.
We simply ignored “Rob” and all of his mischievous-pranks and vulgar behavior. That was it. No teachers had to attend a retraining seminar to refresh themselves on “Law and Students.”
It was slow, but in the long run, it worked. Sure it was sad, cruel and harsh to administer. But “Rob” gave us no choice.
Yes, when “Rob” was being sincere, we did listen to him and give him the attention he needed. But not when he was being and acting stupid—bringing everyone down with him.
Three days before my tenth-grade was history, I ran into “Rob” walking outside our school building and kicking rocks obviously out of boredom. And for a fast moment, we talked as two old friends. This was an awe-inspiring moment since “Rob” never took the time in the previous months to get to know me.
Out of pure curiosity, I reminded him of the day when he had his uncle and aunt to pretend to be his parents to meet with the female teacher who was upset by his behavior, and I asked him, “Did your parents ever bust you for doing that?”
“Rob” let go a profanity and tears came to his eyes. Then without me asking, he added, “My parents never know anything about me. They are never home.”
“Oh, they work long hours?” I asked.
“No,” “Rob” replied. “They have my older sister in Charlotte to visit and they visit her for weeks on end.”
And there it was. All that “Rob” had really been needing all of this time was his parents’ attention. And to know that they were there for him.
I never saw “Rob “ again.
But what he said stayed with me years after I graduated and had a family of my own. Attention given is such a priceless gift to give your children or anyone who is connected to our lives.
When my daughter was born, I took every moment, even the moments when I did not feel like giving her my attention due to a bad stretch of days at work, but I did it. I sometimes had to make myself give her a few moments at bedtime or the next morning before she went to school.
So as a favor to me, please make an effort, if you still have children at home, to give them just a few moments of your time. It might be tough, but in the end, you will be glad that you listened to me just this once.