Odds are that if you’re currently reading this website, you’re sort of a nerd, or a geek, or a dork. If we’re all being honest with ourselves, we’re all geeks in our own way. Be you a more traditional geek who is into science fiction, table top board games and cosplay, or maybe a car geek, a food geek or a baseball card geek. But this post is for the more traditional geeks among us.
I’m sure that at some point in your life, you’ve been made fun of for one reason or another. Maybe you’re overweight, maybe you have a speech impediment, maybe you’re just a loner and due to societal pressures people who don’t understand you or care to get to know you instead decide to do the only thing they know how: attack you mercilessly, be it verbally or physically. As geeks, having been bullied is just one of the many things that we can bond over. As someone who has been bullied for a significant portion of his life, sometimes still to this day, recent events have truly resonated with me.
On June 19th, 2012, a video was uploaded to YouTube of a woman, Karen Klein. She is a 68-year old bus monitor working in Greece, New York. The contents of the video are quite controversial, very not safe for work, and devastating. Until I decided to write this I had not been able to bring myself to watch the entire video, because the scant three minutes that I had seen previously had me in tears so dense that I couldn’t bear to watch anymore. There will be a link at the bottom of this article to the video if you think you’ll be able to stomach it.
In the over ten minute long cell phone video, taken by a student on the bus at the time who did not take part in the attack but simply wanted to document it, a group of students from Athena Middle School go on a verbally abusive tirade directed at Karen Klein. They call her a “bitch”, they continuously shout various slurs with which to indicate how poor she is, they call her out on her weight endllessly, and at one point someone on the bus even states “You’re so ugly, your kid should kill themselves”, which is the comment that Karen said hurt the most. Her son committed suicide almost a decade ago.
Throughout the entire ordeal, Karen refrains from even raising her voice at them, despite being in or on the brink of tears the entire time. She holds steady, reassures herself, and calmly expresses her displeasure at the students actions.
Karen has worked for the school system in Greece, New York for over 23 years, and makes a scant $15,506 annually. Once this video took over the internet, one man decided to do something amazing for Karen. Max Sidorov started an Indiegogo fundraiser in her name. All he wanted to do was raise $5000 in order to send her on the vacation of a lifetime, but at this point it seems that Karen might not only get to go on vacation, but perhaps even retire.
In less than 24 hours of the fundraiser being up on Indiegogo, over $300,000 has been raised for Karen’s dream vacation. The story has been covered by every news outlet and every website that’s worth reading. As of this writing, almost 15,000 people have donated to this cause, myself included.
Now, Karen may not be your typical geek, but she is undoubtedly one of us, and it’s nice to see something amazing come from something so destructive and idiotic. If you have a single dollar you could donate to this fundraiser, don’t just do it for Karen, do it for yourself. Know you’re a part of something much bigger than just you. Know that you’re making an immeasurable difference in this woman’s life. Know that it’s because of people like Max Sidorov and the 15,000 other people currently involved in this fundraiser that a cynic such as myself still has hope for humanity. Know that you are, simply put, awesome.
For those of you who read all the way through this, thanks for taking the time to hear this woman’s story. Please try to watch the video if you think you’re able to. Share this post, or any post like it. Share the campaign fundraiser. Share the news articles posted all over the internet. Share the love. Be the geek you were meant to be and be proud of yourself, even in your darkest hour.
I could literally post hundreds of links, but I think the Indiegogo fundraiser page that started it all will suffice.
Let’s Give Karen “The Bus Monitor” Klein a Vacation! fundraiser page (also contains the aforementioned video of the incident)