Sunday, November 20, 2016

Lessons Learned

I guess if you have a blog you kind of have to blog about the things that happen in life that shake you.
We had one of those this past Friday, and I am still trying to process what happened and put it into the proper perspective.

The day started out great. We had been at dress rehearsal late on Thursday night for Paul's play, "Lost In Yonkers" and so Henry spent the night.

It was a beautiful day so the boys walked to co-op and I drove all the stuff down, and then when it was time to go home, the boys had a couple of friends, Will and Frank, and Henry again, that were going to come home with us and attend the play later. Since the weather was still really nice, they all decided to walk home. I took the car and came home ahead of them.

It usually takes about twenty minutes to walk from the Boys and Girls Club, so I started watching for them when I figured they should be showing up. I looked up the road and I saw them walking down the hill and into the driveway, and a small blue car pulled up and stopped at the end of the driveway. A young woman got out, yelling at the boys and came up the driveway. She was really upset, and I couldn't understand what she was saying, so I went outside to see what the problem was.

She was telling them off, and John was trying to explain while also fending off her accusations. She wasn't making any sense, and so I told everyone to just be quiet so that I could try to understand what was happening. She said that they had called her a name and that it was a racial slur. I was shocked because one thing I know about these boys is that none of them has a racist bone in his body.
She said that they had called her Anime.
I was trying to process that and asked John to explain. He said that Paul had been goofing around and had been asking the people in their cars as they drove by "Do you like anime?" I only have ever heard the word anime associated with the Japanese art form that is frequently found in graphic novels. I have never heard of any word even close to that being used as a racial slur, and I told the woman that.  I told her what anime is and that I couldn't understand how it could be offensive. I also said that maybe where she comes from it has a different meaning but how could we know that? John was trying to explain what had happened and she was just getting more and more upset.
I sent the other boys inside and John stayed out in front with me to try to help get to an understanding but it was like we were speaking a different language than she was and she just couldn't calm down.
I told her that I was sorry for her misunderstanding, but that was what it was, a misunderstanding.
She stomped back to her car. We came in the house and locked the door because she had sounded threatening as she left.
I asked John for the rest of the story after we got inside. He said that after Paul had called out to her car she had turned it around and come back up the road and yelled "Who the F*^# is anime?"
John told her what they had actually said,  she went off and started cursing, using extremely foul language and calling them names.
They tried to just keep walking, but she kept her car next to them and just kept spewing her anger.
At one point she got out of the car. John told her to go away and stop harassing them or he was going to call the police.

After we went in the house, John told me the rest of the things that she had said and how threatened they had felt. He went downstairs and immediately started writing up the story, and we had all the boys read it and sign it.
John then called the police and they told him that the woman had called and they were talking to her and would come up to our house after.
When the officer got here, we went out and introduced ourselves and John gave him the written account.
The officer said that she was visibly shaken and that she said that they had also said something about Donald Trump. The boys said nothing of the sort, and I am still stunned by that.
The officer also said that she had to file the report for work, as she was on the job when the incident occurred. I guess she figured that we were going to call the police and that she had better file her report or lose her job.

The whole thing was really unsettling and disturbing and something that I had never expected in our little town. Sure, Paul was being silly and acting like a kid, but he had been saying that to all the cars as they drove by.

John's question to me later was "Why are they so mean?"

The anger and bitterness was the thing that was the most distressing.
So much hatred that she didn't even want an explanation, she just wanted to believe that the boys were a bunch of racists and that she had been the victim.
I don't see the boys as victims, but I do wish that they hadn't had to experience that kind of anger aimed at them just because someone needs a target.

This has been a lesson to all of us. I don't feel sorry for her. I don't feel like the boys owe anyone an apology. We tried to give an explanation, and if she had stopped for a minute, she would have seen that it made sense. What I feel is still being processed. I am praying that this was a one time unfortunate incident, and I am praying that this woman can see that wallowing in bitterness only makes the bitter person unhappier.

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