The Principal Who Lied
As a child, I was taught to have a healthy respect for authority figures. I minded my elders and showed them respect. I knew adults were capable of lying. I read plenty of history, watched enough television, and browsed the internet enough to understand the ability of humans to lie.
Yet, when it came to authority figures in my life, I always assumed they either weren’t lying or they were just dumb. I figured being dumb isn’t being dishonest. They just don’t know better.
Then during the fall of my senior year in high school, I was accused of throwing a glass bottle at my ex-girlfriend in the parking lot. One of my best friends Bill and I always parked our Mustangs to the back of the lot near the tennis courts, and we had last period off so we got to leave campus early.
My ex was walking towards her car when some glass shattered. She initially thought I had thrown glass at her (at least that’s the story she has stuck to through all these years). So the next morning at school (a Friday), I get interrogated by my assistant principal Mr. White. He proceeds to grill me and my ex about our relationship and where it stood at that point.
Then he tells me what I was being accused of and that we’d have a meeting with our parents on Monday morning and that I could possibly be expelled. That afternoon, I go back into the parking lot and take pictures of all the broken glass in the lot. I scour the entire path that my ex had walked to see where glass could have been broken near her.
The only broken glass was automotive glass. I took pictures, and I went home. I was panicked the entire weekend, but I knew I didn’t do it. I tell my parents about the situation, and they contacted an attorney (family friend) who apparently called my ex’s parents. I actually wasn’t aware of this until recently.
Monday morning rolls around, I show up in slacks, a shirt, and a tie. I walk in with my pictures. I’m ready to defend myself. Mr. White tells me that he saw me do it. He tells me that he was standing on the bleachers outside of the tennis courts and saw me walk out.
That’s when I learned, authority figures can be outright liars. I looked him straight in the eye and told him he was a liar. I told him that if he was out there we would have seen him. I said you’re the assistant principal. I would have noticed. Mind you, he was a 6 foot tall overweight black man who would be extremely difficult to miss amongst the very small number of mostly white Southern small town kid seniors who got off a period early. If he was standing on the bleachers, he might as well have been a giant pink elephant surrounded by exploding fireworks and a laser light show.
Then I told him that I went out there and took pictures and that there was no broken bottles or glass anywhere in the lot. I told him that there was some broken automotive glass, but if I threw something at a car that the glass would have been broken inward and not been in a pile on the ground.
At that point, Mr. White looks at me and says that he went out the lot and didn’t find any glass either. He never admits that he lied. He then tells me that my ex’s parents aren’t coming. That I’m free to go and that I wasn’t in any trouble.
Mr. White died a few years back, but what he did will always stick with me. When you know you are right and have the proof to back it up, don’t be scared of authority figures. Don’t be scared to question them. Don’t be scared to attack. If you don’t have conviction, you don’t have anything.