I've had four run ins with gangs. One was at school and harmless, others, well, they could have ended badly. I've been extremely lucky so far. Or maybe God has beene watching over me. Or both. Not that my atheist children could accept the second explanation. But no matter. I thought I'd recount them in a four part series. Maybe there's some lessons in them for others, who knows.....
My first encounter was in Junior High School. There was this guy in year 7 who was really popular.. If the teacher gave us a choice as to what book to study for English class, he'd decide what he wanted, and everyone else would vote with him. Except for me and this other girl. We didn't like him because he was always picking on us. He used to make fun of me because my parents wouldn't let me wear jeans. He was a lot meaner to her though. He once arranged to meet her in a park and never showed. Everyone laughed at her for thinking he would. Harmless stuff, I know. If that had happened nowadays in Sydney, not only would he have shown up, but he would have had 6 of his mates with him. But this was Winnipeg in the 70's. Even if she wasn't physically hurt, she was publicly humiliated and that's devastating for a 13 year old.
Anyway, the bullying stopped after an incident in the library. There were just the two of us at a big wooden table that seated 6. Larry and two of his friends came in. There was an empty table across the room but he wanted to make us move so he sat down at ours. The other girl got angry and told him to get lost. We were there first! She spluttered in frustration. Larry and his friends found this highly amusing. I tried a different approach. I purred “Oh, Larry, come sit closer. Come sit here on THIS chair.” He got really uncomfortable and said “Yes, well, um” and he and his friends made a hasty retreat.
Who could blame him? He'd challenged my territory, I'd stood my gound, I made him leave and he lost face in front of his friends. He couldn't even fault the way I did it because in Junior High, sitting next to someone in the library was a way of letting them know you liked them. So it was HIM, not me who made the first move. And on girls he least wanted to be seen with too! After that he left me alone. As for the other girl, she eventually became part of his entourage.....
Part 2 New York Gang
Part 3 Street Gang
Part 4 The Convict Work Gang