Ode to the Bully
Derek Keusla. Age 16. Grade Seven. Height: 6’2”. Facial hair: Thick. Middle School Parking Permit Application Status: Pending, indefinitely. I don’t think that my middle school had ever received a parking permit application before and they weren’t about to pioneer a process for Derek. Favorite Hobby: Slapping lunch trays out of kids’ hands. Best friend: Henry “hardcore” Hanlon. Enemy: Scholastics. Intimidation factor: Moderately High. Not a violent guy, but enormous and very bored. If he slapped your lunch tray out of your hand, best to say nothing and walk away. He would also stuff kids in lockers if he determined that they were “too smart”.
Chris XXXX. Age, at least 16. Grade 8. Height: 6’4: Physique: Looked like a damn all-city high school linebacker. My second day of 6th grade this enormous freak comes up to me, grabs me by the shirt and screams: “Call me God or I’ll beat the shit out of you!”. Holy fuck! Where did this guy come from!? “God it is, sir”. Intimidation Factor: Through the dang roof.
William Bullick: Height: 6’0. Grade Seven. Physique: Athletic, EXTREMELY athletic. Favorite Hobby: Picking fights with the custodians. No joke. It was surreal to watch. We’d be sitting in the lunchroom and then all of a sudden you hear all of this commotion and someone yelling: “Not again, Billy!”. Next thing you know Billy is involved in a melee with multiple janitors. Intimidation Factor: Minimal, unless you were a school janitor.
Justin Capitano: Grade: Nobody knows: Physique: To this day I’ve never seen anything like it: His biceps had biceps. This guy was absolutely shredded. He had the physique of a 25-year-old who does 300 push ups and 200 burpees a day. Luckily, he saw me pranking teachers and geeks in our “Computers” class and loved me. Favorite Hobby: Giving swirlies and flexing his biceps for the girls. Anybody he deemed a suck-up or was trying too hard got a swirly. Often times he’d be carrying one kid over his shoulder toward the bathroom and would stop by a pretty girl and flex with his free arm. Intimidation factor: Almost as big as his biceps.
Why am I thinking about all of these middle-school bullies from 20+ years ago? I was sitting in this worthless meeting earlier today to discuss some company “leadership initiative” and instead of ending the meeting 15 minutes early, all these shameless sycophants kept chiming in to talk about what a great idea this all is and how phenomenally supportive they are of it. Meeting goes 15 minutes over. I’m incensed.
Here’s the problem: Derek, God, Justin and Billy the janitor-slayer are nowhere to be found. There are no more checks and balances; the nerds and brown-nosers have nobody to fear. For all of the negative components of bullying, there was a valuable element of self-policing and behavioral modification. If class went over by 15 minutes because you were brown-nosing the teacher, oh man! A beating was coming, no doubt about it. If you dressed like a fool or in an overly attention-seeking way, Justin would soak you and your shirt in the toilet and you’d be walking around shirtless for the rest of the day like a damn fool. Total humiliation. You know what though, next time you dressed like a normal person and stfu during class. Your shitty day was a lesson learned and benefitted the rest of us in the long run.
Does Corporate America need more bullies? Definitely. Here is why: The threat of humiliation and physical violence is transcendent. In middle school, both nerds and cool kids were terrified of God. He didn’t give a fuck about your hierarchical status. Jacked Justin didn’t care either. Twenty-five years later, bring those cats in to the office and they still don’t care. Executive Vice President or Intern, talk too much in a meeting, Keusla will take your sandwich, stuff it in the trash and then smash your laptop. God help us all if the company rejects his parking permit application.