Pete always left early for school. He loved to walk to school without rushing so he could think about his day and dream about what he would be when he grew up. A fireman. But mostly, he was trying to avoid Rusty, the school bully. But, he wouldn’t tell anyone that. He had been teased, pushed and taunted for so long by Rusty, that he had almost become numb to the ridicule and harassment.
Pete secretly looked up to Rusty, though. He wished he could be more like him, in some weird way. Even though Rusty was a bully, Pete understood why. You see, Rusty was a product of abuse. It wasn’t his fault. It just made Pete sad to see his talents wasted. Rusty was the best guitar player he had ever heard. It seemed to come so easy to him. Pete wished he had that gift. In a strange way, Pete looked up to Rusty. Because Pete was an only child, Rusty was kind of his hero. But, nobody knew that.
It was during his 7th grade year that Pete made up his mind. He would use this experience to his advantage. This had to motivate him, not knock him down. So, he decided to start exercising every day by lifting weights and jogging to and from school. This paid off in high school. He graduated with honors and got a full athletic scholarship. His future looked very bright.
Rusty, on the other hand, dropped out of high school with only six months to go, got his girlfriend pregnant and had a hard time holding a job down. He went straight from high school to full adult responsibility with a wife and child. At first, it made him feel needed and loved. He had never felt that before. However, as time went on, he started to resent it. He showed this by staying out late with his buddies after work. His future looked quite predictable.
Pete graduated college and actually got a degree in education. He really didn’t know what direction he would take, he just knew he wanted to help people. Shortly after graduation, he married his high school sweetheart and they settled in a cute apartment. He took his first job at a high school teaching biology, and didn’t last past the first year. He wanted to do more. He found himself applying at local city colleges for employment.
It took a few years for Rusty to acquire a drinking problem. His marriage was a mess and he could not keep a job for more than six months. At 25 years old, he realized he needed to make some changes in his life. He wanted to enroll in college, but for what?
Meanwhile, Pete landed a job at the local city college as a counselor. He started training immediately and it only took a short time for him to realize this is what he wanted to do forever.
Rusty walked into the local city college with a lot of apprehension and insecurity. But sure of his decision. This was the first day of the rest of his life. He was a little early for his appointment with the counselor and started looking through the list of classes offered.
Pete opened the door for his next appointment and immediately felt like he was 12 again. There he was: Rusty the bully.
Rusty stood up and extended his hand to Pete. He had no idea who Pete was. Pete went over his interests, job experience and financial issues. After the appointment, Pete mustered up some courage and said, “I don’t know if you remember me, but we went to elementary school together.” “I thought you looked familiar!” Rusty continued, “Hey! You were that little runt, weren’t you? Wow! You really filled out!” Pete said, “Well, I started working out in 7th grade to protect myself from you and it got me a scholarship to college.” Rusty immediately looked sheepish. “Hey man, I’m really sorry for pushing you around. I was a little messed up kid. I’m trying not to repeat the mistakes my folks made. Actually, I looked up to you. You were kinda’ my hero in a way. Weird, huh?” Pete said, “It’s funny you said that.....”
Thus, began a strange and wonderful friendship.
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