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Hey Stop Calling Him Retard Joe You Guys

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Below is the poem entitled Hey Stop Calling Him Retard Joe You Guys which was written by poet Kim Morrison. Please feel free to comment on this poem. However, please remember, PoetrySoup is a place of encouragement and growth.

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Hey Stop Calling Him Retard Joe You Guys

       School Bus drivers always have stories to tell and most of them come directly from the children that once our rode our buses. This one is no exception, but it is also a fine example of how kids themselves through laughter can overcome what we have all come to call bullying. Years ago I had a student on my bus that was slow and he talked a bit funny because of it. The other students used to tease and pick on him constantly by calling him "retard Joe."  I would yell at them often for picking on this kid, but as hard as I tried these little wise guys always found away to get a "retard Joe" remark or two in during just about every trip. One special day, Joe finally had it up to the top with their crap and decided to take matters in his own hands. Out of the blue Joe stands up from the front seat and turns to the students seated behind him and yells: "I not wetarded! I just stupid!"  Well the whole bus load of students just roared into a laughter so loud that I am certain it was heard a half a block away. What made matters worse is I started laughing so hard myself that I had tears in my eyes and had to pull the bus over just to regain my composure. At that point, I looked back at Joe and he was standing there behind his seat looking at me as if to say why is everybody laughing. I guess it suddenly hit him that instant why what he said made everybody laugh and then he began to laugh even louder than the rest of us. I don't know if the laughter erased all of Joe's pain from being picked on, but I can tell you that not one of those students ever called him "retard Joe" again from that point on.  Some of the same students that once picked on Joe went out of their way to talk to him and the kid they once called "retard Joe" became Jojo.  The moral of this story is never underestimate anybody because even someone who is a few fries short of happy meal can have a moment of stunning brilliance and teach us all a life lesson.

Unfortunately, even well-meaning people will call people like Jojo “special” without realizing that what makes them unique is their ability to laugh at themselves, not the fact that they are slow. It should be painful for all of us to watch someone, like Jojo, being picked on by others, but what we too often fail to recognize is that when we see this kind of thing happening we could in fact be witnessing the slow destruction of a genuinely good hearted person and in this day and age that is a Goddamned shame. Jojo has been out of school for more than half a decade now, but old Mr. “K” still talks to him on Facebook once in a while and he writes exactly like he speaks.   

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  1. Date: 6/17/2013 9:27:00 AM
    Kim this is a good story, and a lesson to learn. I like the way Joe, turned around and laugh harder than anyone. I understand how that perfectly eased the pain... an excellent story and poem... always~ Linda

    Morrison Avatar Kim Morrison
    Date: 6/19/2013 3:25:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    I think the ability to laugh at himself is what actually makes Joe "special," not him being slow witted. Unfortunately, it hurts worse seeing someone like this constantly picked on by others because you are literally watching the systematic destruction of a good hearted person and that's a Goddamned shame in my book. Kim
  1. Date: 6/17/2013 7:33:00 AM
    'this is really good work, Kim. I really enjoy this kind of an inspirational story. Is it for the true story contest? Excellent in fact, a FAVE for this one.

    Morrison Avatar Kim Morrison
    Date: 6/17/2013 8:48:00 AM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    I am the one doing the true story contest, but I have to say the idea of doing a contest of a true story that include short prose pieces came from this piece. Many of us have these kinds of stories, but often they cannot be put into any kind of poetic format. However, I think they are worth telling anyway. Thank You! Kim
  1. Date: 6/14/2013 12:32:00 PM
    whew, you bring scenes into view with such grit and inspiration...really enjoyed this uplifting work; a very sensitive portrayal well defined!.. :) huggs

    Morrison Avatar Kim Morrison
    Date: 6/14/2013 12:51:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Thank you Nette I always love your comments. This may sound a little Mark Twainish, but I believe true stories should be told just as they are because the truth never needs help. We get enough fabrication in our lives and those stories are frequently called news. Kim
  1. Date: 6/14/2013 10:38:00 AM
    What a great story........and a lesson indeed!! ps.......many many thanks for the honor of my placement in your recent contest, Kim! Thank you very much!

    Morrison Avatar Kim Morrison
    Date: 6/14/2013 12:30:00 PM Block poet from commenting on your poetry

    Thank You and your welcome! I have many stories from driving a bus, but this one is my favorite one. Kim