I believe each of us have an episode (or more) in our lives that we would kill to do over. Mine absolutely haunts me to this day, is as vivid as it occurred this morning and changed me as a person forever.
One morning on the way back from high school on the bus (yes, I was carless throughout high school so had the privilege of riding the yellow bus two times each school day until I graduated), the bus driver had gotten off the bus while waiting for all the kids to get on the bus and be seated.
I was seated about five rows from the front. A girl got on the bus and was trying to get her bag under her seat (Girl 1). A second girl (Girl 2) got on the bus immediately after her and lost her patience with how long it was taking the first girl to get in her seat. Girl 2 told Girl 1 to move. Girl 1 didnt answer. Girl 2 told girl 1 to move again. Girl 1 didnt answer. Girl 2 then pushed Girl 1 who was trying to situate her bag. Girl 1 turned around surprised. Girl 2 punched her, pulled her hair and kept punching her. The bus driver was off the bus. Noone (including me) did anything. Girl 2 went ballistic on Girl 1. Finally, a student got up and pulled Girl 2 off of Girl 1, but not before Girl 1 was hurt.
After reading the above, one might ask - ok, not great that it happened, but why is this the one you would want a do over on? Kids fight at school, it happens.
The answer is, while everybody might not have known, some of us (including me) knew that Girl 1 was DEAF. She didnt move because she couldnt hear Girl 2 telling her to move. To this day, I am disgusted by myself for standing by and watching it happen. For not having the courage or the guts to be the first to stop the beating immediately.
At random times, I remember the look on Girl 1's face, the helplessness, the surprise and the pain. I hate that it happened on my watch. I sometimes have the crazy thought of finding Girl 1 wherever she is and apologizing to her for being a gutless bastard when I was in high school.
While Im disgusted by myself, by the event and it will probably haunt me forever, it also changed me forever. Since that day I have never stood around and looked the other way while I know something that is wrong is going on. Standing around and watching someone being made fun of, ridiculed, taken advantage of, bullied, stolen from, beat up is akin to you doing the same thing to the victim. Never again.
I've been in countless arguments, disagreements, fights etc because I've stepped in when noone else would. I dont just step in, I do it immediately. Some say its stupid, some say its dangerous, some say its none of my business. Through this process, I've also learned that getting punched in the face doesn't feel good, but punching someone else in the face doesn't feel much better. But I absolutely will not stand by while someone is victimized. Noone should. When good people don't stop bad things from happening, those bad things continue to happen.
So, although its too little, too late, A.F, wherever in the world you are, I hope life has treated you well and I apologize for what happened to you on a school bus on that January day while I watched and did nothing. I hate myself for it.