Thursday, March 12, 2009

Scapegoat




When I was younger, I would have considered myself a goody-two-shoes. I was that girl who always did her work on time, got good grades, hardly ever talked, and never got in trouble. So the few times that I was scolded for doing something wrong in school are very memorable to me. One of the most memorable of these is one that even today I feel justified in saying that I did nothing wrong. I was merely a scapegoat for the other students.

It was the end of the day on a Friday afternoon. I was in the 5th grade. For some reason or another, there was going to be a teacher's meeting during school hours involving all of the teachers in the 4th and 5th grades. This meant that there were no teachers or assistants to watch the classes. (This is starting to sound like a great idea already, right?) To fill in this time where there would be no teaching going on, it was decided that all the student would watch a movie, which would be coordinated by several parent volunteers.

End of the day on Friday, no teachers, movie, and 5th graders. This does not sound like a quiet event. Throw some snacks into the mix, and you've got yourself a pretty noisy bunch. The parent volunteers tried to keep everyone quite as bags of popcorn and juice boxes were passed out. But despite the constant, "No talking!" the parents kept shouting, the murmur of 5th grade chatter still filled the room. As bags of popcorn were passed down the rows, everyone kept stating, "Pass it down," to let their fellow students know not to keep the bag for themselves.

I was sitting in my chair on the end of a row, being handed bags of popcorn that I continued to pass to the person next to me. "Pass it down. Pass it down." I continued to say in my not-louder-normal voice. I was so into the monotonous routine that I was startled when a parent suddenly came up to me and tapped me on my shoulder.

"Will you step out into the hallway, please?" she ordered in a very stern, commanding voice.

Being the good girl that I was, it took me a second to react to being called out into the hallway.

"What did I do??" I thought to myself as I slowly made my way out into the hallway.

Outside, there was already one other boy from class who looked as confused as I did standing there. There was also a second boy from class who was holding a large plastic bag full of juice boxes. After a moment or two, the parent emerged from the classroom with a fourth victim. She stood in the hallway (where we could still hear everyone chattering inside the classroom) and berratted us for being too noisy and not following directions by not talking.

It was at this point it occurred to me that the kid with the bag of juice boxes had been passing out drinks for everyone, though, he was now in the hallway being scolded by a random parent.

The parent was yelling at the kid who was passing out the juice boxes for talking.

That sounds like good logic to me.

We were sent back into the room after a moment of scolding, and never actually got in any real trouble. (I doubt our teachers even heard about the incident.) But at the time, I was so shaken up for having been called out that I couldn't even enjoy the movie. (It was about a dragon egg.)

But looking back on this event, I feel like I was just a scapegoat. She wanted to exert her power over the class and make them stop their excited chatter, so she called out a few people who were no more guilty than the others, and made an example out of them. She could have chosen anyone, and I was just unlucky enough to be on the end of a row telling my fellow classmate to pass the popcorn down.

You would think, however, that she would have picked someone other than the kid passing out the drinks, as he was probably more justified for speaking than any other student in the room at the time. And because of that, a bunch of thirsty students who had already received their popcorn had to wait for him to get yelled at for communicating with them before he could finish handing out their juice boxes.

The things I don't miss about being a kid...

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