Glass Half Full: Bullies come in all shapes and ages
January 13, 2016
In my profession, it's critical that I not engage with folks who are simply trying to start an argument.
Usually, I'm reasonably successful in such endeavors, having learned a long time ago that (1) such situations never lead to any true dialogue or resolution, and (2) students frequently are watching. I shouldn't tell them to ignore quarrelsome people if I don't model the behavior myself.
So, it was with some disappointment in myself, and considerable amusement, that I completely fell off a verbal cliff at Diamond Peak a week ago.
Waiting patiently in line for the opening for the opening of the Lakeview lift with several others, we were taken aback by a big fellow who pushed his way to the front and demanded that the operators open the lift immediately.
They politely explained that they could not yet do so: Official hours began at 9 a.m. Meanwhile, a swift and steady stream of ski team kiddos slipped through and onto the chairs, something that infuriated the big guy.
He proceeded to rant loudly about it being his right to board right then and there and that we were all being treated like "second class citizens" for having to wait.
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He ignored others who observed that our tickets all stated an opening of 9 a.m. He grew increasingly irate at the ski team members and the steadfastly patient lift operators, who explained they were waiting for the go-ahead call. Finally, he moved backward and stood by me.
When he commented that none of the rest of us cared about the situation or about being treated so poorly, I observed, mildly, that I didn't agree with him.
Big mistake. His response was to insist that we were all subsidizing the mountain and that the ski team were a bunch of kids who came up from Reno and got preferential treatment.
His opinion was that Diamond Peak is a lousy resort, whereupon I suggested perhaps he should ski elsewhere. He responded that a lot of people tell him that…
At that point, the lift opened to all of us, and I told the guy to go ahead. He refused. I insisted, noting that clearly he was in a bigger hurry than me.
Finally, as the line couldn't proceed until one of us moved, I fell off the cliff and said something about him being a jerk — which was a mild accusation compared to what he called me in response.
He went ahead. No one would ride with him. I do know why I engaged: (1) I hate bullies who attack those not able to defend themselves, and (2) IVGID serves all of us very well. It's a resource none of us should take lightly.
Cheap excuses for losing my cool, I know. I'm not proud of myself. On the other hand, I remain amused — and continue to think of what might have been the perfect things to say. I'm just glad that none of my students was watching.
Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at http://www.laketahoeschool.org.
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