I never let them go in my bag that day. If they were going to search my bag then they were going to have to phone my parents. I hung on to my bag so closely that day and I spent a very dull yet incredibly satisfying couple of hours outside the headmaster’s office waiting to be seen.
Mr Tarpy, the headmaster, was the first person along the disciplinary chain in that school to show me any courtesy or respect at all. He was only a little quietly spoken man, but had a presence that demanded respect. He was somebody I liked, even though I found him quite intimidating. I went into the office, he offered me a cup of tea, and we had a talk. He didn’t jump in with both feet and make me feel like I was being verbally attacked or threatened. In fact, he didn’t mention the skateboard at all.
Mr Tarpy started the conversation off with, “I think you’ve been having a hard time today,” and he asked me to talk about that. He never once asked me if I had my skateboard or asked to look in my bag. He was nice to me that day and his only reference to the skateboard was that he had been told that on the day before I had been asked not to bring my skateboard in again. I confirmed that and I told him that I wouldn’t go against that instruction. All of the other teachers had assumed that I was guilty from the off. The headmaster had talked to me like a human being and it had made all the difference. There was no need to dig my heels in or be defensive.
By the time I got up to walk out I’d developed a lot of respect for this man and for the way he had dealt with the situation. He had made me feel good because he had shown me some respect. As I walked out of his office I opened my bag and showed him that the offending article was my tennis racket and not my skateboard. He smiled and said, “Thank you.”
To him it wasn’t about what was in the bag. He seemed to care more about how I was and why I was having a hard time at school.
I never brought my skateboard into school after that day. If Mr Tarpy hadn’t been so kind to me I would have probably brought it with me every day from then on. That’s the sort of person I am. Actually, I would have brought my tennis racket in my bag every day and wound them all up forever.