The Catholic High School Bullshit Blues

These will be jumping around in time a lot. I’ll write them up as I remember them, or come across the letters/diary entries/etc. This one got triggered by a Reddit question: “what is the dumbest thing you ever got in trouble for?”

So I sat there, reading through the responses, then my own memory hit — those damn raffle tickets. I hadn’t thought about those in years; I’d relegated the memory to the trash dump of my brain.

But, yeah. I got in trouble for not selling raffle tickets.

My high school was a private Catholic school. Because my dad was well-known and active in our parish, he had gotten reduced tuition for me and my siblings so we could attend. Bit of background: we weren’t rich — as in, we weren’t doctor- or lawyer-rich — but we were solidly middle class, and probably upper-middle-class. Let’s put it this way: Dad was a white-collar middle manager at a steel mill; he could afford a nice home in a new suburb, two cars, and was able to raise four kids, with Mom staying at home.

Anyway. So every summer, that high school has a locally well-known festival to raise extra funds, and part of the festival is a raffle for a huge prize (a new car, vacation tickets, or something else big donated by one of the Catholic-owned businesses in town for publicity). They give out raffle tickets to all us students, tell us to sell them door-to-door; there’s prizes for selling certain amounts of tickets. On top of that, there were extra prizes for which class sold the most, too, and at the end of the school year, the school held a mini-festival/grill-out for all the students who made their sales quota.

Yeah. They had a required QUOTA that each of us had to make. If you didn’t sell the quota, you had to stay inside and work in study hall that day while everyone else got to go outside and have fun.

This was my senior year. I was a shy teen struggling with anxiety and the start of major health problems (I’d missed a good chunk of my senior year due to the first of my surgeries); I’d been viciously bullied all through high school…bullying that my own fuckin’ brother joined in on (and that’ll be another post). I’d never had a date, never been to any parties, was snubbed for all dances & social things — you get the picture. But I had straight A’s, and I was an “out”, considered weird and geeky and constantly made fun of.

You probably see where this is going. Bluntly, I flat-out refused to sell those tickets. They had nothing to do with classes or grades, and the raised funds only benefitted the extracurriculars that the bullies & the “in-crowd” loved (yeah, the sports), not any of the stuff that had kept me alive (the art and music programs, which were the worst-funded & thought “useless”).

“Got in trouble” was a distinct understatement.

The bullying got even worse. I was spat on, groped, yelled at, ridiculed, and ostracized; even the teachers gave me lectures to sell those damn tickets. Because I would not go door-to-door begging strangers to buy shit to support the fuckin’ rich private Catholic school, I was a pariah.

It only made my shyness and anxiety worse. However, I’d also inherited a damn strong stubborn streak from my grandmother — so the worse shit got, the more my classmates insulted & bullied me, the more I dug in my heels and spat back “NO. NEVER.”

Major point: The school’s summer festival is well-known and well-attended by the town; it was one of the major social events at that time for the area. Likewise, the raffle was always highly publicized. The tickets were advertised in a lot of venues, including the freakin’ pulpits of all three Catholic churches, and hyped all thru the festival.

But yeah, let’s bully and abuse and ostracize the shy weird girl for not selling twenty fuckin’ tickets. Great logic, school.

Last day of school, I had to stay inside in the assigned study hall/detention with a very unhappy teacher who had to stay inside with us. A couple others hadn’t made the quota either, but I was the only one who made the mistake of openly refusing to sell. They didn’t even provide lunch for us, since the grill-out was part of the “fun”.

So yeah, punished and denied food on top of the in-school detention, all because I wouldn’t sell 20 raffle tickets.

The kicker? The school still sends me an envelope of raffle tickets every year for me to “buy”, since I’m an “alumni” and my damn parents gave the school my address. They’ve gone straight into the shredder every year. As much as I’d love to send back an obscenity-filled letter demanding to be removed from their list, it’d be pointless — it’s been 30+ years, so the staff currently there are all “new” to me. They don’t deserve abuse from a stranger.

Besides, me keeping & shredding the tickets means the school is not only out the cost of those tickets, but also the posting & printing costs for sending them to me. Much better revenge.

Every time someone tries to tell me that Catholicism isn’t a cult, dear fuckin’ GODS do I point to this bullshit as a “yes it fuckin’ IS”.


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