Most adults that are willing to talk about being bullied as children, and that remember experiencing the awful humiliation that’s often associated with being bullied, never want to see their bullies again for as long as they live, which is exactly how Tom felt after being repeatedly bullied by a tyrannical high school bully named Alexander.

Well, this all changed one evening because Tom, who had become quite the success story after high school, had the unusual opportunity to confront his less than successful high school bully while the two of them were innocently having dinner at the very same Italian restaurant without knowing beforehand that it was their collective favorite hangout or that the two of them loved and cherished the very same seventy nine year old restaurant owner as well as the savory Italian dishes that are routinely served on a constant and daily basis without fail.

Hearing a familiar and unpleasant grunt coming from a certain section of the restaurant that he never ventures into, Tom was flabbergasted by the sound and he was also overtaken by a flood of emotions after recognizing Alexander’s unforgettable voice since he had read him the riot act on a daily basis throughout his entire four years of high school, which turned out to be the worst four years of his life since he was constantly seeking sanctuary from his much stronger bully that didn’t seem to care that he didn’t want any trouble.

Tom’s experience is like many Americans that have been bullied and tortured by a much older kid despite their overall willingness to want to be friends and despite their genuine desire to want to get along with everyone at the school.

This particular friendly outlook on life didn’t seem to matter to Tom’s bully and as Tom recalls it he was sitting inside the restaurant in a complete daze when he suddenly recognized the fact that he and Alexander were no longer in high school and that he no longer had to be afraid of his former bully, and with this empowering knowledge on his side, Tom began to rehearse all of the horrible things that he was going to say to Alexander prior to walking over to his table, however, after he saw what dreadful condition Alexander was in, he immediately stuck out his hand prior to shaking Alexander’s trembling hand and prior to reintroducing himself since he and Alexander hadn’t seen each other in well over thirty years, and since he had only heard rumors of Alexander’s many successes and failures that had contributed to his unhealthy condition.

Alexander was hardly recognizable when Tom first approached his table, and unlike the scrawny little kid that he had taken great pleasure in picking on for four years straight, he had been in and out of prison ever since he graduated from high school and he had also been unemployed for three years and was in desperate need of surgery after getting into a bar fight approximately six months before running into Tom, who was surprised to see how disheveled he had become over the years since he had an uncombed beard that was nearly down to his chest, and since he was also walking with the assistance of a bamboo stick, and since his hair looked as though it hadn’t been cut in at least eight months or more due to the length and due to the unhealthy look as well as the repugnant stench.

Standing there and seeing the once powerful Alexander reduced to a quivering and repulsive wreck of a man, and no longer angry at his former bully due to what he had become after high school, Tom took the time to catch up with the man that he had once regarded as an enemy due to being constantly attacked for no reason other than the color of his skin.

You see Tom is African American and despite their difference in race he immediately offered to pay for his former bully’s dinner since he could tell that Alexander could hardly afford to cover the bill and that he was eating lightly because he couldn’t afford any of the more expensive dishes that would sustain him throughout the night and that would also replenish the protein and the vitamins that he had been losing due to a lack of food and supplements.

Alexander wasn’t a tenth of the man that he had once been, and feeling a certain degree of remorse for the things that he had done to Tom out of hatred, and also responding to the kind gesture that was extended to him by Tom, which was based entirely on Tom’s unbiased Christian love for all men, Alexander’s face quickly turned from a somewhat proud pale white to an attention grabbing flush of embarrassment, which got everyone’s attention since they were aware of his racist views. The kind gesture didn’t end with Tom offering to pay for his meal because he also invited Alexander to join him at his table that was filled with the finest dishes and he also offered him a job despite his past brushes with the law.

The new full time job that came with a healthcare package allowed Alexander to obtain the kind of surgery that he required due to the three on one bar fight that he had gotten into and that had left him partially crippled and with no hope of ever getting any better without undergoing the kind of necessary surgery that was needed to repair the damage that was caused by the three drunken men that he had gotten into a fight with over a spilt drink and over a few peanuts that were scattered on the counter of the dive bar that he had wandered into.

The kindness of Tom and the much needed surgery not only allowed Alexander to pick himself up out of the dirt; for it also allowed him to ditch the humiliating bamboo stick that he had found inside a trash dumpster and that he had been using to support himself with since he couldn’t afford to purchase a real cane and since he didn’t have the kind of medical insurance that would have provided him with a cane once he was treated by a doctor.

The kindness and the forgiveness of the freshmen that was bullied from the very start of his high school experience also allowed Alexander to regain some of the dignity that had been lost as a result of being injured and as a result of being out of work for an extended period of time since no one would hire him due to his checkered past and due to his obvious disability and due to his unstable housing history since he had been living in a homeless shelter prior to moving into a friend’s garage.

Well, as you can certainly tell from the interview that was conducted on 03/25/2013 with both men who spoke candidly, facing one’s bully as an adult is not always about tearing him or her down since some occasions call for the deepest of understandings and for an unbiased heart that is filled with compassion as well as with forgiveness for past mistakes.

Nathaniel Armstrong, Jr.

Cerritos, CA –

This article was also published by Examiner.com

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