Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Everyday Heroes Blogfest: A Hero's Reward

Today, I'm participating in P. T. Dilloway's Everyday Heroes Blogfest. The point is to share a 500 (or so) word short story about the problem of violence, and how to stop it, in light of the tragic event that happened in Newtown a few months ago. Here we go!

A Hero's Reward 

It was a Tuesday, like any other Tuesday, and I was on my way to school. Homework done. Lines rehearsed for the audition later on. Things were going my way for once.

Or so I thought ...

I usually take the back way into school—less crowded—but not this morning. Two kids were in each other’s faces, both arguing about something. I learned long ago to stay out of confrontations, if I could get away from them, so I tried to slip by. Then, to my surprise, the smaller student reached under his shirt, and pulled out a gun.

The other students backed away. I would have, but my mind swirled instead, my thoughts taken over by the recent shootings that had happened in other schools and a theater. I was behind the assailant. He didn’t know I was there—I simply had to do something.

Not in my school …

I sprang at the armed student. He turned toward me, but he was too late to do anything about it. I grabbed his wrist first, and pointed it down, to make sure the gun was pointed at the ground. My other arm went around his neck. As I wrestled the student to the ground, he let go of the weapon, just in time. A couple teachers showed up. One of them took the weapon, holding it daintily like a discarded tissue. The other took out his smartphone and dialed the police.

As the officers took the gunman into custody, I lost track of how many handshakes and pats on the back my peers gave me. Is this what it feels like to be a hero? If I had stood anywhere else, I couldn't have done what I did—I could've ended up shot instead.

I was excused from class to answer a few questions and fill out a report. When that was finally over, I headed for the doors to start my "any-other" Tuesday, until the principle stopped me.

"Come to my office,” he said.

Cool. I bet he wanted to thank me personally for stopping someone from getting hurt—or worse. He gestured at a seat. I took it, as he sat down in his own.

“I’ll be frank with you,” he said. “I’m going to have to suspend you."

All my warm feels flushed away. “You're suspending me? Why?”

“I know you were trying to help,” said the principle, “but you’ve become a part of the altercation now. You should have stayed out of it and let the authorities take care of the situation.”

“You can’t be serious!” I said. “No teachers showed up until after I took him down. No cops showed up for, I don’t know … a couple minutes? The other student would've been killed if I hadn't—”

“I’m sorry, but we have policy to follow.” The principle stood up and excused me from the school—until further notice. “If there happens to be a next time,” he added, “leave it to the professionals.”

*     *     *

Now, I wish this story were complete fiction, but a situation like this actually happened not too long ago (see the story here). While I don't know the complete story, I am surprised that a student was punished for stopping a potential shooting. If I were in his shoes, and the opportunity showed itself, I would have done the same thing.

I salute him. We seriously need more people like that in the world.

What would you do if you were in a situation where you could do something to stop a violent act? Would you take the leap?

I'm David, and every day is another chance to be a hero!


  1. I feel so strongly about this topic that I wrote a whole book about it! Heck yes, I would act!

  2. Its important to do things that are right, no matter if we get into trouble or not. Thats what I teach my kids!

  3. Thanks for the great story! I like to think I'd do the same thing, but actually I'd probably run away and hide. And yes some of these school policies make no sense.

  4. Ack! I so knew that was going to happen because that's exactly the mentality. As we say in local government: no good deed goes unpunished.

  5. Sometimes schools and even companies follow their policies so closely they forget to think. You always have to do what you feel is right. This reminds me of that nurse who wouldn't do CPR because it was against company policy. We're more than just following a set of rules..I would hope.

  6. Great story. We do need more people like that in the world. Recently, I've been appalled about a story of a woman in an assisted living center in California who called 911 for help and no one (not even the registered nurse who worked at the facility) would give this woman CPR for fear of losing their job. And the woman died. It's appalling. She wanted help and didn't get it. I hope those people responsible realize that they are bad people.

  7. Loved the story, David. Part of the problem in these modern times is that too many people don't want to get involved. And then there are the ones that want to follow the many rules instead of using common sense. *shakes head*

  8. Welcome to our lawsuit crazy world. It's sad that instead of this kid being held up as a hero, he gets knocked down and suspended. Then, when something goes wrong, people stand around yelling "Why didn't anyone do anything about it?" Such a backward and twisted society we live in.

  9. It's true, no good deed goes unpunished. Policy is a chicken's cover.

  10. Yeah, something's wrong with that scenario.

  11. With red tape being what it is, it's shocking but sadly not that surprising. He's a hero for sure even if unrecognised.

  12. I remember a similar thing at my high school. The school's policy was that everyone, aggressors and defenders, be given a brief suspension so that the investigation could be handled without interfering with school. Though from the report, it looks like the kid was refusing to cooperate with police and that's why he was suspended.

    Either way, pretty heroic of him and the other students to disarm the would-be shooter.

  13. That's kinda crazy it's a true story, but I guess rules are rules. Very thoughtful story David.

  14. What a stupid society we live in where allegedly intelligent people can't make a judgement call and say, we are not following the rule in this case because it doesn't make sense. This is what happens when people aren't allowed to exercise their own good judgement, you get a bunch of rule followers who can't think for themselves.

    As for the old woman who no one would give CPR to, there's a whole lot more to that story if you read it.

  15. This sort of thing makes me want to tear my hair out. We complain about our kids standing by and doing nothing when they see bad things happening, but then we punish the kids who DO do something. If we want them to take responsibility for their actions, then we also need to honor that same responsibility.

    Very well-written story - and clearly one that strikes home with so many!

  16. Such an awesome, but sad story. I wish things like that didn't happen. Suspended for doing the right thing. How is that going to inspire the kids to do the right thing another time?

  17. This was a great story! It's always honorable to do something that's right.

  18. I've heard all too often of people standing up and getting fired for it or otherwise in trouble.

    (Great story, by the way!)

    I like to think that I would do what your character did. I think we all would like to imagine that we would be heroes, regardless of the potential or personal cost.

    I hope to never be given the chance to take myself up on that hope.

    I just found your blog through PT's blogfest. I plan on coming back more!

  19. Fantastic...

    I am NOT surprised he was suspended. SUCH A CROCK! Rules like that do NOT pertain to attempted murder... I would've done the same!

  20. That is way upsetting that the student was suspended for saving the day. Wicked crap there. What you wrote was amazing. Well done taking a real life story and turning it into a short story. I hope that student reads it and knows that someone--you--thought his act of bravery was worth it regardless of being suspended.

  21. If people followed the rules, what kind of world would we live in?

    Life's Perceptions

  22. That is SO wrong...suspended for doing the right thing.
    How is that teaching kids to do what they know is right?
    What kind of world are we living in?

    Bravo, David!
    A fabulous write.:)

  23. Great story, and so true how many times heroes are the ones who get in trouble. No good deed goes unpunished, or so they say. Being suspended for stopping violence is even worse than being suspended for biting a sandwich into the shape of a gun.

  24. I did that once - no gun involved - but some big teenagers were fighting down by our neighborhood pool - and one was really hitting the other one and pushing his head to the cement. I got out - and my weapon was my cell phone! I called 911! My family thought I was crazy, but I did it without thinking. Sandie