At the beginning of my 11th grade (three months before this book begins), I had study hall during the fifth hour class session. There were about 50 or 60 people in the class, including two guys named Ralph and Bert. Some of the people started mocking me verbally. Ralph was one of the initiators and leaders of this mockery, as he, Bert, and others would whisper insults to me literally all hour long. Many of the jokes were about my last name of Ruhf because it was an easy name to make fun of. It is pronounced like the "ruff" sound of a barking dog.
I sat in the back of the room. My seat was directly in front of the desk of the teacher who watched over that study hall session, but she did nothing to stop what was happening. I briefly left the room on one particular day, and when I came back I found that my books had been knocked off my desk and were on the floor. I quickly turned my head to the teacher and I gave her a sorry looking facial expression as if I was saying, "Why did you let them do this? Why do you do nothing and remain silent?" I gave her a look of intense emotional pain, and even a little bit of anger. When I looked at the teacher, she gave a start. I heard her gasp, and she was visibly shaken by my sorry looking expression. She looked back at me. Her expression was one that indicated helplessness, as if she wanted to help, but didn't know what to do. This teacher had the ability to keep general control of the class, but she didn't know how to deal with situations such as the one I was in. My anger instantly vanished at the moment we made eye contact because I knew that she really wanted to help. I even felt for her, realizing the frustration that she must have felt wanting to help but not knowing how to.
I forgave her, and I sat back down in my seat. The whispers went on day after day. They would not leave me alone. I started to show up late for study hall. I couldn't handle this level of mockery! It was incessant! This became a very painful situation for me. That old expression "sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me" was definitely not true.
When fifth hour came around each day, I would wander around in the hallways for as long as I could. But finally I would have to go to the study hall room because if I stayed in the halls to long, I could be stopped and given a detention. Students who were given detentions had to stay after school for an hour. So I began arriving to class 10 to 20 minutes late every day. Too many tardies could also mean a detention, but the teacher never marked me tardy. I believed that she understood why I was always late, and chose not to report it.
Then one day the class laughed at me as I walked into the room.
The class laughed! It wasn't just one or two people; it was a chorus of laughter! But it didn't stop there. Day after day I would walk into this class late and day after day they would all laugh in unison as I walked through the door. I had never experienced mockery on such a massive scale in my life, and it was more than I could handle.
I knew that I had to get out of that class. I went to talk to the Junior class counselor. I told him what was going on. I was careful not to talk about the teacher's inaction because I didn't want her to get in trouble for failing to do something.
"That is a serious problem!" he said to me firmly. I was encouraged by this because he didn't belittle the situation. We then were able to bring about a change in my schedule whereby I got out of that study hall hour. I had a Science Fiction / Mystery class during my 2nd hour class time, so I exchanged the two classes. Thus, for the rest of that semester I had study hall during 2nd hour, and Science Fiction / Mystery during 5th hour.
The next day, I walked into that 5th hour study hall class for the last time. Once again the class burst into a chorus of laughter. I handed my transfer slip to the teacher. She signed it. I walked out of the classroom. They laughed at me as I walked out. Relief hit me as soon as I stood on the other side of that door! It was like a 10,000-pound weight was lifted off my shoulder! The relief was so overwhelming that I wanted to jump for joy!
A year later, I saw that teacher in the hallway. I was with Edward. By this time I was a Christian. I felt no anger or bitterness toward her for allowing it to happen, nor had I ever. I wanted her to know that I had forgiven her for doing nothing and I wanted to share Christ with her. I didn't say anything, though. I just listened to her and Edward talk about what they had to say to each other.