Saturday, December 23, 2006

Melancholia, Part Three: Authority

As a child, I always wanted to be a patrol. I wanted responsibility. I wanted to foster order. I volunteered for every vacant assignment. Over the course of two years in elementary school, I was a hall patrol, a bus patrol, a bus stop patrol, and a kindergarten patrol. My assignments overlapped. I was conscientious. I read the handbook. I followed the rules. I got a certificate at the end of the sixth grade to commend me for my actions. I got more grief as a patrol than I deserved. I don’t think there are child school patrols anymore, at least around here.

As a kindergarten patrol in the fifth grade, I was responsible for making sure my group of kindergarteners got on the right buses. One of my charges rode my bus and got off the bus with me. I was also bus patrol on that bus. My charge was a lively and intelligent Negro girl who was very kind. She asked lots of questions as if I was an authority on any subject, and I answered the best I could. She was respectful and polite. At the end of the school year, she knew I was going on to another school. She drew me a picture – it was a picture of my mother and me. The girl mentioned “…except I don’t know what your mother looks like.” It was a good picture. I kept it for many years, before it disappeared. I profoundly regret losing it.

As a bus stop patrol in the sixth grade, I was assigned to an out of the way stop that I had to walk through the woods to reach. There was a stop closer to me, but it already had two patrols. I went where I was needed. There were only four kids at that stop, five including me. There was a third grade boy and his first grade sister, as well as a girl who was a year younger than me, and another boy who was best friends with the third grader. The brother and sister were swarthy, Mediterranean types – White technically, but with a Semitic admixture no doubt. The boy would bring a basketball to the bus stop every morning and start playing with his friend. They had a habit of letting the ball roll into the street. After a few times of chasing the ball down for them and warning them I would take the ball away if they didn’t stop, they became “abusive toward the badge.”

I was informed quite clearly that I was a loser of no importance who would be better off dead. Be that as it may, I told him I was in charge. “Yeah, who said so?” he pouted. “The school did.” I retorted. I waited for the ball to roll into the street again. It did. I retrieved it and held on to it until the bus came. I was then informed that I would have my ass severely beaten when his father found out I took his basketball. I made my report to Ms. ______. The ball was returned to the student with a warning not to bring it to the bus stop.

For several weeks after, it was a constant effort on my part to keep this boy from playing in the street, from running into people’s yards, from attacking his sister (who never appreciated my interventions on her behalf), from leaving his books on the sidewalk as he went to get on the bus. I encountered new forms of profanity I had never imagined. Then, one day, he wasn’t there, nor his sister, nor his best friend. He had convinced his parents to drop his sister and himself at the next stop because I was harassing them. The school was not involved. The parents never spoke to me. I was actually relieved. The next week, the remaining girl at the stop told me she was being teased for being at the stop alone with me. The children said we were boyfriend and girlfriend. She ended up walking through the woods to go to the stop the other kids went to, in order to quash this rumor. I was alone at the stop by October of that school year. I remained alone there until May. Every day I walked through the woods. Every day I waited alone for the bus. I said nothing. No teacher ever knew. I was ashamed.

In May it was warm enough to wear short pants. The woods were filled with bugs. My legs got chewed up. I finally decided to abandon my post and go to the nearer bus stop. I did not wear my patrol belt or my badge. The two patrols at that stop had given up theirs long before, they were plain-clothes-patrols I suppose. There were parents at that stop; the kids were under adult supervision. As I approached, I was greeted with hostility. I was told by my former charge/headache: “We don’t want you here, this isn’t your stop!” I assured him I had not come to patrol the stop. I watched in silence as parents failed to notice children playing in the streets, and failed to stop children from fighting one another or from using foul and abusive language.

It wasn’t my problem anymore.

A few weeks later I got my certificate for being a patrol. As a patrol, I had experienced the spectrum from respect to complete disdain – from “Black” to “White”.

I ask myself: Why do you believe in the White race? What have they done for you? You have experienced both good and bad from both Whites and Non-Whites. You have seen how corrupt and disgusting this White civilization is, is it worth saving?

My answer is this: White is not about what is here now. It is a dream of what was. It is a promise of what will be. To be White is to be perfect, perfection is an ideal. We don’t abandon an ideal simply because we may never attain it.

1 comment:

  1. Perfection indeed. In the past, when being interviewed for various employment, I was often asked the usual interview question: "What do you consider your main weakness?"

    My unwavering answer: "I'm a perfectionist, and as a perfectionist I tend to focus more intensively on a project or task and devote more time than my position may require."

    Similar to your school patrol role, the above response usually resulted in two reactions: either a respectful acknowledgement of that positive trait, or a sublime contempt of me.

    Since entering into maturity (40's) I've come to accept many things are not worth my effort or time, and so (for my own well-being) I no longer strive for perfection when it appears it will be neither worthwile nor appreciated.

    The child with the ball was questioning your 'authority' and you can't entirely fault him for it. Ironically, his departure gave you 8 months to think and arrive at a very useful conclusion regarding human behavior: some people or situations are not worth the worry or grief.

    I enjoyed the trilogy; it brought back some childhood memories and you even reminded me of a crossing guard whom I respected and obeyed. My challenge to 'authority' began in high school.. with teachers and principals; it now encompasses all who debase my race. ;-)

    Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas!