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Leslie Geissler


leslie geissler readingBudging

It had to stop…every day the same scenario…and…every day the same outcome. It had gone on too long. At first, Judy and I tried “school appropriate” methods for solving this problem. We put into place the three-step, conflict/resolution approach required for all of us 8th graders to learn when in Mrs. Paquette’s Home Ec. class. This systematic approach included our reaching out to the offender in a peaceful manner, trying to gain his/her perspective, and creating a solution together that would result in a win-win for both parties. Somewhat surprised at its failure, Judy and I questioned what had gone wrong. The conflict/resolution approach always seemed like a good idea and worked during our role-plays in class. Next, we tried going to the proper authority figures—lunch ladies teachers assistant principal. Finally, we were out of patience. Judy and I decided to take control of the situation and handle it our own way.

Every day, Mr. Ackert would let us out of band a few minutes before the bell rang, indicating lunch for all of us 8th graders. No one was very fond of band since all we ever played were marches—John Phillip Souza marches—but having band right before lunch and Ackert’s letting us out early, made the class worth not dropping. Judy and I never missed a beat in synchronizing ourselves in putting away our clarinets and heading out the door together. We would make it to the lunch line at precisely the same time each day. This is exactly where the trouble would start. A kid, Randy Buckley (his real name—not worthy of protecting), would show up five minutes later and meander up the accumulating line and comfortably situate himself right in front of us in line not even caring about all of the other kids he was budging in front of. At first, Judy and I ignored him, hoping that he would stop budging in front of us, but he continued day after day after day and always in front of us. No longer could we ignore Randy nor his annoying habit, so we became more aggressive and would pretend to accidentally bump into him, trying to get him to step out of the line. This only encouraged Randy to begin the verbal assaults on us. After enduring enough of Randy’s physical budging and verbal rants, Judy and I decided we could stand it no longer. This was where we inserted the three-step conflict/resolution approach without success. We also risked tainting our own reputations by telling on Randy, again, with no lasting or satisfying results. In fact, Randy would increase his aggressiveness after being scolded by one of our resolution resources—a teacher. It was at this point that Judy and I felt we had to take care of Randy on our own and in our own way.

Judy and I were pretty resourceful when it came to boys being that we had plenty of experience with brothers—two each—four between the two of us. As girls, we could definitely hold our own when it came to boy-conflicts. The plan was to take place on the playground after lunch. Randy showed up, budged, and harassed us as normal while Judy and I felt a bit smug as we knew we were all set to go with our plan.

After eating our lunches, all 8th graders were herded outside to the playground. We knew Randy would be easy to spot since he always seemed to hang with some guys that played some sort of tag game at one end of the playground. The plan unfolded flawlessly as Judy and I pretended to join in the game of tag, at first surprising the boys, but we soon gained acceptance. At a moment when Randy was distracted by the game, Judy gave me the “let’s do it” nod. Judy took off in a flash and jumped onto Randy’s back and began beating him with fisted hands like pounding rain. Completely caught off guard, Randy was unable to ward off Judy, his assailant, and that’s when I attacked from the front throwing solid punches to his face and stomach. Randy fervently tried to stop the assault, but we kept up with the punches. It was like we had both built up a surplus supply of uncontrollable anger and couldn’t stop if we had wanted to. Unsure of how much time had passed, I eventually felt a painful squeeze on my upper arm and someone shouting at me to “stop immediately.” The next few minutes became a blur as I only remember the playground supervisors having a solid hold in some way on each and escorting the three of us inside the building while a few bystanders stopped for a moment to stare and wonder.

Our principal, Mr. Welch, gave each of us our turn at telling our story and reason for the fight. He felt it necessary to call our parents and clue them in to our “disappointing” behavior. Judy and I figure we got off fairly easy in our having to show up for two hours of detention each day after school for a week. Randy, I think, got the same. Funny, I no longer remember what his punishment was or maybe it didn’t matter. Even with serving the detentions, Judy and I felt pretty good about the outcome. Randy ended up with a bloody nose and a bruise visible on his face. Of course, we weren’t able to see the damage Judy may have done with her back-pounding methods, but we successfully took care of our “lunch line budger.” Randy never learned to stop budging, but he did learn to never, ever attempt to jump in line anywhere in front of us again.