Bullying

October is National anti-bullying month. As a red head I was bullied when I was a child. Even today I can still hear the chants “Red head, red head fire in the wood shed”. This is the only one that was yelled at me that can be printed in a family newspaper. One involved the anatomy of a male dog and another involved my parents and a rusty pipe.

No wonder I was a loner.

While I was growing up in Buffalo, there was a family across the street that had 4 or 5 bazillion kids, or so it seemed. I remember them jumping me, punching me and sitting on me so they could pound my hands into the dirt. It always concluded with the threat that if I told anyone the next time it would be worse.

I was constantly tripped, pushed and kicked by the bullies in school but I suffered in silence because I knew if I reported them, retaliation was going to be quick and harsh.

In elementary school, I did manage to retaliate against one bully and gain some respect though. When we were sitting at our desks, he would reach across the aisle with his leg when the teacher wasn’t looking and kick me. This would cause the classroom to laugh.

One day I had enough and waited until he extended his leg, ready to torment me again when I grabbed his foot and gave it a yank. He ended up siting on the floor. When the teacher turned around and asked him what had happened, he stood up and said he just fell out of his seat. The laughter was the loudest I had ever heard. It seems he was bullying many of my classmates and they appreciated someone getting even. He never did it again and him and his “bully buddies” left me alone. Elementary school went pretty good after that.

We moved to the north towns in time for junior high school where I developed a small circle of friends. By the time I got to high school the bullying reached its apex. My books would get knocked out of my arms and I would get body checked into the lockers. I started carrying my books in a duffle bag so my stuff would not get scattered all over the place.  The school administrators would always look the other way because the perpetrators were primarily members of the football team. They were untouchable and they didn’t want to have to discipline them with suspensions. I was the victim and that, like designated seating, seemed to be my place in the school pecking order.”

I rode the bus to school. Seeing as I lived so far from the school the bus was virtually empty when I got on it so I would sit in the back. One day, on the way to school, I was “pantsed” by a couple of the motor-heads to the delight of all the other riders. On my way off the bus, the driver told me I had to sit in the front seat from now on. I now realize he was trying to protect me but back then I felt like I was the one being punished. Nothing ever happened to them.

One of my major tormenters was the son of Russian parents (or so he said). Finally enough was enough. One day we happened to be in study hall together in the school auditorium where he was messing with me. The person in charge saw this and moved them to the front row, but I knew that after the study hall the bullying would continue. Time to devise a plan.

I got the restroom pass and headed to my locker. Once there, I grabbed an old notebook and filled it with a bunch of loose papers. When I came back, I walked in front of him and “tripped” throwing the notebook in the air. Of course the notebook and papers flew everywhere. The teacher looked at him and me and asked what happened. He replied he didn’t know and I said I didn’t know, I tripped over something. The teacher made him pick up all the papers and I had no more problems with him.

I had started to work at a local company and once again I was the brunt of abuse. One day I was in the bathroom and a person started lobbing balls of wet paper towels over the wall at me. Time to make a statement again. There was a spray can of germicidal spray so I grabbed it. I sprayed it under the partition and lit it with my lighter. A three foot flame came out towards toward him. No more problems. I had gained the respect I deserved.

Today’s lesson is this. You never want to be the type of person that gets yanked out of their chair, gets blamed for tripping someone or has fire coming towards them. Let’s make sure nobody has to remember that October is Anti-Bullying Month.

Norb is an independent journalist from Lockport.

Service animals

Emotional support tarantula

I saw a story on the internet recently about someone who was looking for a pet friendly house or apartment to rent and they were having a hard time. On social media, they posted that they were having difficulty and a person suggested something that seemed a little shady to me. They said to get their dog a vest and tell landlords that he was “A service dog, that way they can’t turn them away. “ I looked it up and found that doing this is a crime. Under the federal Fair Housing Act, to possess an emotional support animal in a rental property, you’re required to have a disability

Effective December 18, 2017, a New York State law makes it unlawful for any person to knowingly affix to an animal any false or improper tag identifying it as a guide, therapy or service animals. Violations of this law might bring about a fine of $100 and 15 days in jail. When a person pretends their pet is a service animal it shows a total lack of respect to all the real service animals out there, and those that need them. Service animals are trained to provide assistance to handicapped people.

Under local, state and federal laws, persons that have disabilities are allowed have service animals in all public areas such as retail stores retail stores and retail stores even though animals are prohibited by local or state health codes. However, I am concerned that people are taking advantage of this and abusing their protections and think that far too many people are abusing these laws. The objective of New York State’s new law is to curtail abuse and to discourage people from taking part in service animal fraud.

the new law is makes it against the law for anyone to make use of fraudulent identification tags, but not all service animals have to wear a patch, identification vest, or harness labeling the animal as a service animal.

I went on the internet and googled “service animal vest”. Google returned 167,000,000 results. Most of these sites did not require any type of documentation and many would also provide an ID card. Some of these vests were priced as low as $5.00.

Service animals include those that have received training to perform tasks that their owners cannot do on their own like Seeing Eye dogs. There are also emotional support animals (ESAs) that may or may not be trained. Their purpose is to soothe someone with a mental health problem.

Therapy animals are usually registered through an agency and their purpose is to provide help to those who need it. Therapy animals have no rights under the ADA, but places that do not usually allow pets, such as hospitals and schools, could allow them to visit. Legally speaking, only miniature horses and dogs are defined as Therapy animals. I wonder why these are the only authorized animals. What about cats or ferrets?

Whether a pet, a therapy animal, an ESA, or a service animal, businesses have the right to expect the animal to be under restraint, typically on a leash except in cases where the person’s disability prevents this and not pose a threat to the health or safety of other people. This includes disruptive behavior, such as growling, jumping up on people and acts that demonstrate the animal is not housetrained.

The National Institute of Health reports that “studies have found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost your mood”, and any person who loves their pet can verify. Having an animal as a companion is one of the best drug free antidotes to loneliness out there.

Meanwhile, anxiety has recently identified as a mental health problem and its reported levels are increasing across the board. The causes are frequently beyond our control, or at the very least they feel like they are. These might include gun violence, climate change and politics. To help us feel better we are instructed to get more exercise, sleep, eat more wisely, and maybe snuggle with a pet.

Maybe that’s why the millennials are the largest and most enthusiastic sector of pet owners in America. A 2018 survey reported that of the 67% of millennials who own a pet think of them as their “fur babies” a label that I hate and consider pretentious.

Deriving comfort from an animal doesn’t give anyone the right to special treatment, particularly when it interferes with the rights of those with real disabilities. And while anxiety sucks, official ESAs are intended to assist those people who suffer from debilitating symptoms.

With stronger rules in position, the days of suspicious ESA certifications could be waning. Until that time, all we have is an inadequate honor system filled with selfishness, and profiteers. You would not claim to be blind just so you could get a reduced fare on the bus or fake being a paraplegic just to be able to use a wheelchair while shopping. So, please don’t lie and say your dog is a service animal. Be considerate toward those people who justifiably need them and leave your pets at home.

 Norb is an animal lover who wouldn’t dream of taking a pet into a restaurant. You can follow his blog at WhyWNY.home.blog

If the government can do it, so can I

Holiday Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint.
The song ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside” ‘ is seen as In the current Created with Microsoft Fresh Paintera, and is being banned by some radio stations. The radio stations have stopped playing that classic Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint song because it has lyrics that suggest Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint rather than proposing an innocent situation of bar while being snow bound. SMH.
As long as we are eliminating everything that could offend the Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint , I have a few more suggestions.
I think we should ban “Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint ” by Bing Crosby because this might offend Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint people. We also need to eliminate “ Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint Is in the Winter Night” by Enya” and “The Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint World of Winter” by Bing Crosby for the same reason.
There are many, many songs that reference Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint that should be forbidden because many religions Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint in Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint . They have their own Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint . In fact the very name Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint should not be permitted just because of the Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint part. This word might offend the Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint people, the Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint . The Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint . The Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint and the followers of Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint .
Now I see that there are some “Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint ” movies that people want to ban. The first of which comes to mind is the classic Rankin/Bass holiday offering “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” They want to ban this because an Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint throws the Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint out of the sleigh even though Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint mentioned that Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint . Then there is that Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint with Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint , the deer who are Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint towards Rudolph, the dentistCreated with Microsoft Fresh Paint and the Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint toys from The Island of Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint Toys.
While we are at it let’s look at a few more Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint classics. We have “A Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint Story”. It’s just not Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint in America unless there’s a Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint hungry child in a Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint marathon. And how about washing your Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint mouth out Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint with Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint ? Oh fudge, that is Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint ! But Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint was the norm back then. I am old enough to have Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint this way myself. Good times.
Then we have the movie “How the Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint Stole ”. I think it is very insensitive to call him a Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint . Clearly he has Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint . Notice isn’t there even one person Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint in all of Whoville. Then be aware of the fact that they didn’t actually accept the Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint until he gives everyone presents! Looks like Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint to me. And what about making that poor Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint wear a heavy antler and pulling that giant sleigh. Someone call Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint .
The movie “Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint ” features, ,Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint and a father Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint his son. “Frosty the Snow Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint ” has the Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint magician Professor Hinkle attempting to Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint Frosty by Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint him in a greenhouse where Frosty is Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint .
“Home Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint ” is about a bar who is accidently Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint home during the Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint holidays by when the rest of his family goes to Europe. I think being Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint by your parents is a bit of a problem.
I see that some people are trying to prohibit all Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint related symbols in the schools and have suggested a ban on a list of Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint themed items in the hopes of being inclusive and culturally sensitive to all of the students.
A list of the suggested items would include the singing of Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint . Even the on the bar is on the hit list because that’s a Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint related symbol. I think some people are spending more time working on these lists than they are taking time trying to understand diversity.
We now can’t see Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint scenes on governmental land due to “the separation of church and state” activists. Wal-Mart has switched its banners to “Happy Holidays” from “Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint “. It is Wal-Mart’s and other retailer’s participation in the moneymaking side of Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint that is the real attack on this beloved holiday. One more time, the have co-opted a cultural tradition that most Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint have enjoyed.
Enough is enough! I think I am old enough to decide on my own which movies I watch and which music I listen to. I love watching the old movies and listening to the old Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint songs. I love sharing them with my grandchildren. I will always wish you a Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint no matter who you are or what you believe. is the Holiday I celebrate. If you want to respond Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint or Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint because that’s what you celebrate, I promise not to be offended in fact I may respond in kind with your religious preference. I welcome your heritage as well as my own. Instead of us getting offended by each other, why don’t we just try to get along? This is supposed to be the season of peace on earth and good will towards men no matter what you believe, not the season of hate and discontent.
In closing, I will wish you a Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint , Happy Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint , Happy Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint or a Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint season, whatever works for you, from my home to yours.

Treat Every Woman like You Would Treat Your Mother and We Will All be Fine.

 

art awareness campaign concrete
Photo by Lum3n.com on Pexels.com

Since the beginning of the #MeToo movement, policies have been devised to keep men out of possible trouble. Men are learning the importance of respecting every woman and valuing them as human beings. I have written about the importance of fathers training their sons to show women and girls respect.

Every employer in New York State is now required to adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy. Employers must provide each employee with a copy of its policy in writing. Employers are supposed to provide employees with the policy in the language spoken by their employees.

I was once accused of sexual misconduct at work. I was walking behind a temporary employee because I had to fix something on the other side of them. Due to the cooler temperatures in the plant, I was wearing a “hoodie,” which was unzipped. All of a sudden she jumped up and started yelling that I had touched her bottom (not the word she used). I’m guessing my sweatshirt must have brushed against her.

I denied it but by the time she hit the front office, her story had drastically changed. Now I had “groped” and squeezed her butt (again not her word). I was called to the front office to answer these allegations and when the new scenario was presented to me, I actually saw red. Obviously my sweatshirt has a life of its own if it can grope and squeeze someone’s butt.

An allegation of this sort was like taking a bullet to my chest. I was so livid about these lies, I told my supervisor that if he entertained any notion that these allegations might be true, I would punch out, get my stuff and they would never see me again. I had worked for this business for over 25 years and had a spotless record. I never even had an attendance problem.

I believe it is very possible for sexual harassment to happen in the workplace. We have all heard gossip about this before and we can all imagine that it could happen. Let me say at this point that I have been very happily married since 1969. I respect the sanctity of marriage and have never been unfaithful despite a few opportunities. I take the vows I took that one August day very seriously. An allegation like this had the power to destroy my marriage and negate everything I worked for my entire life. Fortunately, my record spoke for itself and my supervisor told me they didn’t believe anything that my accuser had said.

Fast forward to today. If she were to make these accusations now, I would have been fired or suspended, immediately, without pay pending an investigation. After an investigation I am certain that they would have to believe her story, a case of “guilty until proven innocent” and I would have been terminated. It would have been a classic case of she said/ he said.

With all that has come out about Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, et al, many of us men are trying to maintain a higher standard of behavior in the work place and elsewhere than we have in the past when we are interacting with members of the opposite sex. I think we all would prefer not to have anything happen that could dramatically change our lives, damage our careers and alter the way other people see us.

Now days, people have created rules to follow to try to avoid any possible allegations being leveled against them. For example, there seems to be an unspoken rule on Wall Street that is now instructing men to avoid women. This seems like over reacting to me. It was pointed out in a recent Bloomberg article that this new standard may actually isolate women working in finance and make it more difficult for them to advance in their careers.

A rule or policy should not become a problematic impediment to business meetings or an obstruction to any career path that a woman may wish to follow. To make any job an unattainable part of a “Boys Club” is wrong. These self-imposed rules should not work to prevent women from climbing up the corporate ladder as this is unfair to everyone.

Women should not be avoided. They should just be treated as respected human beings who could bring valuable experience and knowledge to whatever corporation or workplace they are at. Men can and should just learn to keep their hands to themselves, their eyes focused on the other person’s face, and keep any unwelcome compliments to themselves.

Ask yourself this one question, how would you like it if your mother was prevented from getting a promotion because of her gender or was sexually harassed at work? If it is unfair to your mother, then it isn’t fair to another woman either. Remember to treat other women the same way you would want other men to treat your mother or sister, so that a woman doesn’t feel the need to rush home every day and thank god that she wasn’t sexually harassed or mentally undressed at work.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In honor of this I am posting an interview I did with an abuse victim.

adult alone anxious black and white
Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Norb: I recently posted an article on Facebook about Domestic Abuse/Violence and you contacted me to share your story is that correct?

M: Yes I thought that hearing this from the point of view of a victim was important.

Norb: I thank you for talking with me and want you to know that if at any time you don’t feel comfortable discussing this further, we can stop the interview.

M: Thank you.

Norb: let’s start at the beginning. How long ago did this occur?

M: In looking back, it started on our Honeymoon.  Alex  (not his name) got very angry when I commented on a statement he made. Early in our marriage I once forgot to turn off my headlights.  I had to call him to rescue me, and he was so angry he kept shouting and telling me I was stupid.

Norb: Is this the first time you have felt comfortable talking about it?

M: No, after the divorce I went to a Divorce Recovery Program and after the program I was asked to tell my story to the next group.  It was hard, to write, initially, but by the time I have practiced it a few times it became very easy to talk about it. Actually putting it down on paper was very cathartic, and it made me deal with my emotions.

Norb: If you did discuss this who with?

M: I had told several friends about his behavior, but they always said their husbands acted like that, too.  Later I learned they were appalled at his behavior but never told me.

Norb: Who was your abuser?

M: My Husband

Norb: How long had you known them?

M: We were married 9 months after we met, and were married for 30 years before we separated.

Norb: What was the first instance?

M: My abuse was not physical, but emotional.  He gradually separated me from my friends and family, and slowly became more violent towards me.  I describe it as cooking snails; if you drop snails in a pot of hot water they will crawl out, but if you put them in cold water and gradually heat it up they don’t notice and slowly cook to death.  Two of the most violent instances happened within 3 years of our separation.

I had been about 700 miles away for the weekend, at a music competition.  My group won first place in the competition, and. when I got home I told him. His response was there must have been a lot of lousy groups there. Â I then asked Alex if he had eaten and he said yes, so I started making something for me to eat. He started shouted at me that he was hungry and had been expecting me home earlier so make dinner.  He raged at me about how he had to fend for himself all weekend and I didn’t care.  Later he told me he was just being funny with the comment.

 

Number 2 was when we were on vacation with the children.  We were trying to find a parking lot so we could take a tour.  I saw a lot and pointed it out, he started shouting that he couldn’t get there and I should have seen it sooner.  He then drove onto a highway, going over 100 miles an hour screaming at me, you have the map, where are we. I kept shouting for him to slow down so I could read the road signs, and the kids were in the back seat screaming, you’re going to kill us. After traveling about 10 miles he exited the highway, and pulled into the first parking spot he saw. He got out and said, we can walk from here. Our son convinced Alex to let him drive back and when we got there Alex walked away from us.  The kids and I bought the tickets and took the tour and had a good time.  As we were coming back we saw Alex with another tour group.  The children and I walked around the area and met Alex when he finished his tour.  He took the keys and drove us back to the hotel.  When we got to the hotel he dropped us off and said he was going to park the car.  We did not see him again until the next afternoon.  He had decided to drive to another city 400 miles away to look around.  When he arrived he expected to do the planned activity for that day which was a day tour.  When we told him it was too late she started sulking and said he was just going to say at the hotel.  He would not give us the car keys so we walked to a mall.  I felt really bad when my kids said they would take turns sitting next to Dad on the plane so I wouldn’t have to.

He would get mad for no reason and back me into a corner and shout and spit on my face and give me the 3rd degree after work demanding to know what I said about him to my co-workers.  He would take my keys and disappear for a day or 2 and I would have to call co-workers to get a ride to work.

Norb: Did you feel you deserved being treated like this and why.

M: I knew I didn’t deserve this behavior, but I thought no one would believe me.  My friends knew a lot of this but didn’t support me.

Norb: What do you believe triggered the abuser?

M: I think he was always an abuser, but was able to hide it for years. When he did rage at me, I usually didn’t know what set him off.

Norb: Did you contact law enforcement at this time?

M: No, like I said, I thought no one would believe me.  I didn’t have any physical marks.

Norb: abuse usually starts slow like verbal abuse and progresses thru physical abuse including hitting stabbing, being pushed down the stairs or being burnt. Was this the case with you?

No, I left before it became physical. Although, others have told me even though I didn’t get hit the spitting and backing me into a corner were physical. I often feared for my safety when he was raging. I was also concerned that if I would leave he would hurt the kids.

Norb: Did you at any time feel fearful for your or your child’s safety or life?

M: absolutely. The worst part was I found out they would hide in another room when he acted this way so they could call the police if needed.

Norb: Did the abuse cause you to lose work?

M: No, but when we separated he stalked me at work and I almost lost my job.

Norb: Did you require any medical attention due to the abuse?

M: I went to a therapist. Mentally, I was a train wreck.

Norb: Did you resort to anything to hide the abuse like wearing sunglasses or using concealer?

Norb: What was the straw that broke the camel’s back?

M:  When I found out the kids would hide so they could call the police. They also told me they thought Dad didn’t love me anymore because they saw him with another woman. That was when I found out he had been cheating on me. About a week later I was diagnosed with an STD.

Norb: Finally, what made you stay so long with an abuser?

M:  Again, I didn’t think anyone would believe me. No one in my family ever got a divorce, I couldn’t face that failure. My co-workers would tell me that was normal behavior, so I thought I was just being over sensitive. Also, I was the snail!

My kids convinced me that Dad needed help, and I needed to get away from him before he did severe damage. That’s when I realized that every time Alex came into the house/room, I would have a panic attack.  This anxiety was affecting my relationships, and health.

I want to say, if someone starts confiding in you about abnormal behavior of a spouse or lover, don’t brush it off.  Support them and tell them it isn’t normal and try to help them get help.

Previously published in the Niagara Gazette.