Back in the days where the Columbine shooting was new and fresh, I ran with a motley crew of guys… a couple of which wore trench coats. We had about 10 in our group. A couple were skaters, wearing vans and ripped jeans and graphic tees… there was me with my button up, khakis and letter jacket… a couple stoners were in our group, and a couple people had two tone hair and trench coats..

In case anyone doesn’t remember (I am feeling old.. my students are now born in the 2000s), Columbine was a school shooting by the “Trench Coat Mafia”.

Being that our group was quite outside of the “in crowd”, after the columbine shooting happened, we had quite the interesting turn of events. Guys that played sports with me for 6 years were now harassing us, asking me or my friends if we were in the “Trench Coat Mafia”… if we were going to shoot up the school. Simply because a couple of us liked the Matrix and wore trench coats.

One of my buddies, the oddest one… two tone hair, weird piercings and white contact lenses often times… he got it the worst. He was in my English class, and someone approached him one last time… we will call my buddy John, and the other guy Mark. Mark comes up, “Hey John, I hear you going to shoot the school up… you going to shoot the school up? I hear you are going to plant some bombs at the next prep rally… should I just take care of you now?”

My friend John had enough, looked at Mark and chided.. “Yeah man, yeah, that is what I’m going to do. And when I do it, you will be the first to go.”

The next morning, John (who was in my first period class) was escorted out of our class in handcuffs.

My friend John had charges pressed against him (dropped), but was still expelled from school.

The interesting thing is that when someone outright said he would kill me because of something I said, the administration let him off with a warning… also a student that literally called in a bomb threat from a payphone (yeah, that long ago) was only suspended 5 days.

Long story short, schools make mistakes. Admin make mistakes. I don’t feel they did the correct thing in all of those cases. Life lesson: perception is huge, people often don’t care about the content of your personality if you dress in a way that makes you look strange. It’s a sad truth.