I’ve had a handful of people in my life who could fall into this category. I feel fortunate that I don’t remember many times that I’ve had difficulty with people.
When I read the prompt, I thought of three separate people. Two were supervisors - one of which I’ve already written about. The third was a classmate. And to this day, I cannot understand what motivated her hatred.
That’s a strong word: hate. I’m not being overly dramatic. This girl actually said she hated me, both in actions and words.
I met her when I was 8 years old and we were in the same class. My family had just moved to Tallahassee over the summer and I was starting out at a brand new school. We moved from a small town in central Florida to Tallahassee (which isn’t exactly a sprawling metropolis, but it was a lot bigger than I was used to). I can remember only one black person in my 2nd grade class in central Florida. I never noticed that she had trouble fitting in and I didn’t see her differently, but I wonder if those issues were there.
When I moved to Tallahassee, the elementary school I was zoned for had a student population that was well over 50% black. It was also situated in a fairly poor area of town. I did notice the number of black students because it was such a huge change from the last school I’d attended. But, I had been brought up by parents who believed that all people are equal regardless of race or any other distinguishing factor.
I was painfully shy before I ever started at my new school. I didn’t make friends easily, but I was lucky enough to have a class with a very understanding teacher and kids who generally accepted me regardless of the differences between us.
Yes, everyone accepted me, except for one person.
This young girl, who I’ll call Tonya, hated me without even knowing me. She hated me without provocation. I wouldn’t say she made my life hell, but she had a mean streak and wasn’t afraid to verbally tell you what she thought. She never got physical and I wouldn’t call her a bully, but as the years went by, her attitude got bigger and her anger got stronger.
At one point, I walked up to a group of girls - all friends of mine, except for Tonya - and just as I was walking up to the group, I heard Tonya say to the group at large (which also happened to be all black girls), “I hate white people.”
She knew I could hear her. There was an awkward pause as the rest of the group wondered how I’d react. I pretended it didn’t bother me and one of the girls in the group - who also happened to have the same name as my tormenter - diffused the situation by changing the subject.
Tonya and I went to the same schools until we both graduated high school. Her father was a school bus driver that I got to know because he drove my routes and/or field trips for several years. He was such a nice man to all the kids who rode his bus and I couldn’t understand how his daughter had gotten to be so angry and full of hate.
I still think about Tonya and wonder how her life has turned out. I learned early on to give her space and as the years went by, our paths eventually stopped crossing. I always hoped that she somehow got past her anger.
Have you ever had to deal with someone who made your life hell or treated you badly? How do you feel about that person today?