A Face in the Crowd

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a very brief tale based on one of my previous experiences about a beloved teacher and brilliant woman who desperately needed someone to notice her plight....

Submitted: January 10, 2010

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Submitted: January 10, 2010

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A Face in the Crowd
Based on a True Story
I saw her everyday, 8:30 AM. She had been in the building since 6:30, running around making copies, gathering and organizing supplies and preparing her room for another day of fun adventures in learning for her students. Mrs. Sharpe took her job very seriously, although she found a great many classroom ongoings to be hilarious, not anger provoking. She never ate lunch in the teacher’s lounge with the others; she confined herself to either her car or classroom with a lone peanut butter sandwich loosely packed into an old grocery bag. If a student misbehaved, she found a way to deal with it herself and she never asked the office for anything except temporary relief from duty to go to the restroom, which happened quite a lot. Her arms were always loaded with bags or boxes of equipment, never asking us to pay for anything, even though she wore the same 5 outfits every week.
Her mysterious ways were utterly befuddling, but the students’ love for her was unparalleled. One day I walked in the room just to see how she was doing. Students were joyously gathered around the walls with paintbrushes in hand. There were plastic cups of water and paint lining the chalkboard ledges and the floor. I asked what they were doing, and she said they were creating their own cave drawings like those they had seen in the textbook. Another time, I went in and saw students molding clay into little mini-mountains and hills or color coding the clay with paint- they were creating 3-D physical maps of the United States. Her methods were creative and unusual, and, despite employing such ways, she found ways to cram in standardized test prep activities, like intensive reading, writing and math.
It was the frequent absences and trips to the hospital that we found fault with. She never gave us details about her need to take off. She stayed in the building until maintenance asked her to leave; she seemed to not want to go home even though it seemed she didn’t want to come in. I noticed little things, like scratches, red marks on her face and throat, random bruises. One time she came in with her arm in a sling. She explained it as a “minor household accident” and laughed politely about it. I know that the higher ups and other colleagues had observed the strange behavior and marks, but no one dared say a word. Then there was a day where she didn’t show up at all, but was found unconscious along a nearby 6-lane highway by local police. They told us she had severe head trauma, broken neck, broken wrists, a broken tailbone and appeared to have been choked. She died on the way to the hospital, where they found our phone number on her, but not her husband’s. By the time they did find a way to contact her husband, he had skipped town and seemed to have completely disappeared.
I didn’t tell this story to entertain you. I’ve told it to advise you. Millions of women are abused everyday by men they believe love them. Many of these women struggle to hide the truth, although certain transgressions, like calling out frequently, are evidence of abuse. Most people just pretend they don’t notice a problem, even if there are visible signs like broken bones or marks. If you can see a soul aching from being beaten down at home and you can see the damage, talk to her. Find out what the problem is. Refer her to people who can help her. Like Mrs. Sharpe, these women feel the solution is to hide the truth rather than reveal it, but you can’t ignore such a woman. If you ignore a friend, family member or co-worker who is being obviously abused, you are just as at fault as the abuser. Good people become bad when they ignore evil and pretend nothing is happening….


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