Something About Bob and It’s Special

13 12 2020

Do you remember him from school? We all knew him. He’d come down the hall going from class to class and seldom make the short trip without someone saying something mean, but what they saw as funny, to him was hurtful. He was the brunt of jokes and pranks constantly, but all he would do is keep his head down and walk away. I guess he felt if he fought back it would only get worse. And why was this young man ridiculed mercilessly? He looked different, thought and acted differently, did not fit the general norm of the typical high school student. Now to be fair, not all of us were cruel to this individual; occasionally we’d even say a nice word to him. But we’d never defend him when he was picked on fearing the taunts would then turn to us. And in private with a few friends, we may even talk and laugh about how weird he was. Okay, you’ve probably figured out by now I’m not speaking of a certain individual that we all know; I’m talking in general. It’s safe to say nearly all secondary schools in the country have at least one individual that fits into this sad category. And if we’re honest, most of us have been guilty of the behavior I’ve described. Quite possibly, we were that one who picked on this individual. But today I’d like to tell you about a certain young man I knew that was firmly in this category.  His name was Bob.

I met Bob during our grade school days when we were in the same cub scout pack. He was a big boy, both tall and heavy and he had a weird way of looking at things, different thoughts and ideas than most. So, one could see Bob was, shall we say “diverse” in his ways and thinking and had to endure a great deal of torment at school as well as from the guys in our pack. Fortunately, his mom was the den mother and she wouldn’t let it get too carried away. I didn’t say a lot to him because I was dealing with my own problems at school since I got teased a lot also. Since I was rather nice to Bob, his mom would always put us on the same team when we split up and played games. Here I have to admit I would get a bit aggravated knowing it was a sure thing whatever we were playing, we were going to lose big!

When we got to high school, I seldom saw Bob. If I did run into him, I would keep walking like we were strangers. And still there were ones that nev missed an opportunity to tell him how dumb or weird he we was even going out of their way to taunt him. It wasn’t right and I didn’t approve; but I must confess I didn’t lift a voice or a finger to defend him; something I’m ashamed of to this day.

My senior year I only had to go to school half a day, so I took a job on the afternoon shift at a small factory that made plastic products. And who did I find working there? Good Old Bob!! He was a year ahead of me in school and after graduation went to work there. He was a machine operator and I was put as his helper. Lucky me! The work was easy and we actually made a pretty good team getting parts out. But every evening as the hours wound on, one thought came to mind. Good Grief man! Don’t you ever shut up?!!! Bob made conversation on every subject known to man and never lost steam. I had to learn how to shut him out mentally or I would lose my mind. I put up with it because since I didn’t have a car at that moment, he was kind enough to pick me up and take me home every night. One evening I asked him; “Bob, where do get all this information.” It was then I found out how well read this man was. Scientists, philosophers, politicians, inventors, philanthropists, adventurers, and a good deal of fiction writers. Here was someone who had absolutely no social life. I suppose he knew if he showed up at some function or gathering there was a good chance he’d have to endure ridicule. So he would stay home in his room and read everything he could get his hands on. As I began to really listen to him; I came to realize Bob was quite an intelligent man. His comprehensive skills on what he read was impeccable. He could recite paragraphs and pages as if it was in front of him. The more I got to know him, the more respect I had for “Old Weird Bob.” Yes, you could say he was different compared to most, but that sure didn’t make him dump or bad. I discovered he was brilliant; he just had an unorthodox way of carrying himself. Also, he had a heart to help others. He found out another man that worked at the factory was walking every day several miles to get back and forth. So Bob would go out of his way to pick him up, and would never take money from either of us for gas. As time went on, I found that he had another hidden talent; he was quite the actor. He could recite entire lines from shows and his voice texture for whatever part he was doing was spot on. “Bob, you’re very talented, you ought to pursue this gift of yours.” He would look at me for a moment and then go on to a different subject.

One day at the end of work he was unusually quiet as we walked to the car. “I’ve just been fired.” “What?!! Why?” “The boss said I wasn’t working out and had me turn in my tools.” I didn’t know what else to say as we drove to my house. As I got out, I said, “Bob, I’m sorry man, I know you’ll find something else.” He didn’t say anything, drove off and that’s the last time I ever saw him. I asked the boss about Bob the next day trying to defend him. “John you’re the only one who would stick up for him, nobody else liked him so it’s best he’s not here.” I don’t believe it. All through school he had to put up with being looked down and now the same thing was happening in the blue-collar world. For Pete sake!

There’s an old saying about not judging a book by its cover. But the adage goes like this, “Don’t criticize what you don’t understand. Don’t judge a book by its cover. You may miss the whole story.” It wasn’t until I worked with troubled kids that I came to realize there’s a lot more to an individual than generally meets the eye. The troubled youths I came into contact with were mostly good kids at their core, but because of circumstances beyond their control they were looked down on before many got to know just who they really were. So, they become that person that others identify them as and they give up on life. I feel that’s what happened to Bob; people saw him as weird and so he withdrew into himself and allowed few to really know his talents and his heart. I have a theory that often others will scorn someone else to keep the light off themselves and the shortcomings they have. The Bible is very clear on this subject. James 2:1-5” My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?” 1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

I suppose I’m on a soapbox today, but this is a subject that’s close to my heart. We’ve all heard the golden rule, “Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.” I am convinced that if we all could try just a little more to understand others, ones that are different that we are, this world would be such a better place for all of us, especially the Bobs everywhere and perhaps in our everyday life.

As mentioned, I never saw this “Traveler of the Rock Road” again and I’ve been told he passed away twenty years ago. My hope and prayer are that he found some joy in life before then, perhaps with someone else. And my other hope and prayer is I hope that I will never again look at someone’s appearance or ways and not see their heart. For I know I will have missed the whole person.

‘Nuf said.

See ya next time.


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2 responses

14 12 2020
DeWayne

Sadly, we often see what we want to see. Even more sadly, we’re often convinced to see what others want us to see. Keep your eyes, mind and heart wide open. Pay little attention to the “cover”. Learn for yourself what’s inside.

21 12 2020
rockroad

So very true.
Thank you Dewayne
Blessings Brother!

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