The Walkout

May 29, 2015
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Transcript

GLYNN WASHINGTON, HOST:

OK, so in high school I went out with this girl Kerry, right? And Kerry was real pretty and sweet and everything, but Kerry had a rebel's heart. She started fights and she smoked cigarettes. She had books and movies and music that were all strictly forboden for the likes of me - the crazy church boy. But I, like everyone else in school, really dug her. Of course, I was too shy to say anything so I figured I'd go the buddy route, bide my time, and wait to see what might go down. And we were tight. One day, lying on the carpet in her living room, she reached out, took my hand, and she told me I was the best friend she ever had. I didn't want to be her best friend, but I figured it was something to build on. The next day, I saw Kerry and she was furious. Did you see it? Did you see it? Did you see it? What? It turned out the school administration had sent out an informational flyer addressed to all the parents in the high school. It read, does your teenager act tired or lethargic? Do they eat massive quantities of food one day and refuse to eat anything the next? Mood swings?

Well, if you answered yes to any of these questions, your child is likely on the drugs, but help is only a phone call away. Now, you've got to understand, this flyer thing they sent out would have made zero impact in my house. If it wasn't about Jesus or the church, my parents were not interested. We never checked the mail except to dump it all in the trash. There were bills in there. A school brochure, please. So, no, I didn't see anything about the flyer, but Kerry wasn't having any of it. They're bullying us and it's wrong. And the more she talked about it, the more she got everyone, including herself, riled up. I say we have a walkout. If we all stick together, we'll send a message that this is not the way we're going to be treated. Who's with me? Shoot, I'm with you, fine Kerry. They can't send pieces of paper to our house. So the plan was at 1:45 p.m., precisely during fourth hour, everyone was going to get up and walk out. So there we were, sitting in history class with Mr. Perkins. And he's going on about how some things are worth defending, some things are worth dying for. Then he stops and he says, I hear there's going to be a walkout in a few minutes. Now the teachers know? And you know what? I'm not going to tell you what to do. You have to make that decision for yourself.

But if you do do something like this right before you graduate, you better know it can mark you. It can go on your permanent record, and in the end, you have to ask yourself, was it worth it? So take a stand if you need to, but make sure it's the stand you want to take. Everyone kind of looks over at everyone else. Mr. Perkins gives his teacher nod and goes back to history. Five minutes 'til show time, three minutes, two - 1:45. Kerry stands up, slams her books to the floor and walks out - alone - all by herself. Everyone's just looking straight ahead, possibly thinking what I'm thinking, which is, yeah, we're with you in spirit, Kerry, but I don't know if it's really worth this fuss with the permanent record and all, but know that we're applauding you the whole way. Kerry disappears from view, and I see her return to the doorframe, waiting for us - waiting for me - looking baffled and lost and small.

And I remember when she reached out and took my hand and told me that I was her best friend. I stand up, I place my books gently upon the chair. I wave to the class, to Mr. Perkins, and I walk out into the hallway with Kerry - the super empty hallway. We're still hopeful like, maybe everyone's watches weren't quite synced up to the right time, but the halls remain empty. Crickets. So we walk out to the parking lot, stand around, kick rocks, not talking about it. And finally, I brave up. Hey, you think you and I could ever be boyfriend and girlfriend? Is that why you followed me out here? No. Maybe. I don't think so. When she reached out and held my hand that time, I knew it was a consolation prize like, we're still friends, right? And I thought, you know what? We are friends. Today on SNAP JUDGMENT from PRX and NPR, we proudly present "The Pact." Amazing stories from real people who've got a promise to keep. My name is Glynn Washington. Buckle up 'cause you're listening to SNAP JUDGMENT. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.