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The Dragon

By Eric Tang

When I was in high school, I spent all my free periods in the library. I was a library kid: quiet, not interested in having an exciting social life, just looking to get some work done. Usually, my stays passed with no incident, but this one time I had an unfortunate encounter with the librarian known as the Dragon.

My friend(s) and I were working on a collaborative project and we were talking a bit, as you do when you are working with someone. I was (am) certain it was nothing obnoxious or disruptive, but the Dragon disagreed. Without warning, she came over to us, said we were being too loud, and ordered us down to the cafeteria. My friend(s) got up to leave; maybe they decided that it wasn’t worth the fight. I, however, just sat there. “I haven’t done anything wrong,” I said. The Dragon let me know that she wasn’t making a suggestion, but I continued arguing my position. When she offered me the ultimatum of either accepting punishment voluntarily or being dragged out by force, I chose the former. I didn’t want to make a scene.

Obviously, the Dragon was in the wrong on this one. You don’t have to take my word for it, though. I had touched on a common grievance among the students; the Dragon was infamous for sending students out near daily for so much as a whisper. Many of them were willing to vouch for my account of the story, one going so far as to join me in my confrontation against the vice principal. I found myself in a peculiar position: facing off against the vice principal in the basement dungeon of the school, one of the top students in the class at my side, with the popular opinion of the student body behind us, defending against a claim from someone who was widely judged to be unfair. In a just court, I feel this would have been an open and shut case. But it wasn’t, or it was but not in our favor. What the vice principal told me that day still rings in my ear holes to this day: “Even if every student in the whole school came out against a faculty member, I would still defer to that faculty member over them.”

That’s it, really. What can you do when there are no courts to fight in, your elected officials don’t have the balls to speak for you, and the absolute authoritarian power that controls your life decides you’re the one in the wrong?

Written Winter, 2019 for English 350H at UMass Amherst. Part of the Eric Tang Pathology Anthology.
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