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Flash Fiction Friday – July 21, 2017

Never Judge a Book by Its Cover

Judy Baily isn’t one to meddle or pry, but when she sees injustice she has to act. That’s exactly what happened last Wednesday on her way to ballet class. She watched as a teenage boy sitting at the bus stop was being tormented by a group senior citizens. She knew she had to do something.

Yes, you read that correctly – a teenage boy was being tormented by a group senior citizens.

Here’s what Judy had to say…

My name is Judy Baily and I’m an eighteen year old senior in high school. I believe in respect, dignity and being a good citizen. I know that sometimes my age group can get a bad rap for being rebellious, rude or inconsiderate. I’m here to say that as in any generation or age group we have our bad apples, but we teenagers aren’t all part of a preconceived stereotype.

I want to share what happened in my neighborhood a couple of days ago and maybe this will change your perception of stereotypes.

My best friend Margie Morgan and I walk to ballet class every Wednesday after school. Neither of us want to dance professionally, but it is wonderful exercise and we enjoy being part of an amateur dance troupe. It’s about a five block walk from our street to the dance school. On our way we pass by a neighborhood senior center. We generally see one or two of the senior citizens waiting at the bus stop for their ride home.

Last Wednesday as we were walking by we noticed a group of older adults surrounding a teenage boy who was sitting and waiting at the bus stop. I don’t want to be judgmental, but this teenager had a few tattoos and piercings. With that said, all he was doing was sitting and waiting for a bus.

Margie and I heard the unruly group of seven senior citizens begin making fun of this young man’s appearance. They were calling him unflattering names. The young man to his credit didn’t reply. The teenager was probably fourteen or fifteen and was dressed in black leather and combat boots. He was not, and I repeat was not, bothering anyone.

Margie and I couldn’t stand by and allow a group of adults to mistreat this young man.

“Ladies, why are you harassing this young man?” Margie asked as politely as I’ve ever heard her.

“This hooligan is ruining our neighborhood.” Answered the most outspoken of the women.

“Why do you say that?” I asked innocently.

“Well just look at him. He looks like troublemaker.” A short stocky woman with grey hair and glasses snorted at me.

“Did he do something to you?” Margie wanted to know.

“No, not yet. He’s just waiting for us to turn our backs and then he’ll steal our bus money or worse.” A silver haired woman in a wheel chair chimed in.

“So what you’re saying is because this young fellow looks different than you, he must be up to no good.” I added to the conversation. I couldn’t hold my words back any longer.

“We’re not saying that exactly,” the first woman stammered, “we’re saying we know his type.”

I stood back and watched the teenager look down at the ground and not say a word. He wasn’t angry and didn’t seem upset by the confrontation. Quite frankly, in my opinion he was acting more mature than our “mature citizens.”

“So,” I said, “you are prejudging someone by their looks without knowing anything about them. I believe that’s called being prejudice.”

The seven senior citizens, turned in unison looking at me with that deer in the headlights look.

“We aren’t prejudice, we’re being cautious.” Said one woman in the back of the group.

Margie’s cheeks were turning red with anger as she piped up, “If you saw a group of teenagers doing what you are doing to this young man, what would you think of the situation? Would you think that a group of people were harassing the person sitting on the bench?”

“Of course we would, but that’s different. The elderly are vulnerable.”

I couldn’t help myself. I had to continue Margie’s argument. “What gives you the right to harass and judge this young man? Just because he may look different than you think he should, does that give you the right to harass him?”

As I finished my sentence the city bus pulled up. The young man stood up and boarded the bus. I watched him take a seat by the window and mouth “thank you” to me.

“I mean no disrespect, but you should be ashamed of yourselves. You are older, wiser and we look up to you to be our role models. My grandmother always said, ‘Never judge a book by its cover.’ Maybe that’s something all of you should remember when faced with a situation like this.” I blurted out in one long exasperated breath.

Margie smiled sweetly and said, “Have a nice day ladies.” We turned away from the group of women and continued walking to ballet class.

When I think back, I realize three teenagers handled a tense situation with more maturity than seven senior citizens who should have known better.

Let me ask you this: If you walked by and saw the same scenario, how would you have handled the situation?

  • Would you have walked by and done nothing?
  • Would you have stopped to see what was happening?
  • Would you have taken sides before knowing all the facts?

The moral of the story: As my grandmother always said, never judge a book by its cover.

Please take a minute and share your thoughts with us.

***This is a work of fiction.***
None of it is real. All names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Thank you for reading this post,

© Copyright 2017 SharonMichaels.com – All Rights Reserved

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