By Jenn Maer
When I was a little kid, I was obsessively well-behaved. I ate my vegetables. Got straight As. Wrote thank you notes for every single gift I received.
Then one day, I snapped.
It happened during recess in fifth grade. It was my turn to take the red rubber ball to the playground, which meant I was in charge of keeping it safe and choosing the game we’d play. I took this responsibility seriously—like I did everything back then—and silently vowed to be a just and fair keeper of the ball. We would play Four Square, I decreed: No backstops, no spinsies.
Then out of nowhere, Adrian B., a sixth grade bully with the hard, mean eyes of a career criminal, stole my red rubber ball. The ball I’d earned with good behavior. The ball I’d sworn to protect.
This would not stand.
A white-hot rage bloomed inside me like a tiny, pony-tailed Hulk. I raised my fist and threw the first (and only) punch of my life. Adrian turned his back to me in reflex and the blow hit his spine with a sickening crack. I broke my wrist with that single punch.
I did not.
And every damn kid in the school signed my cast.
When have you expressed righteous anger?
Jenn Maer writes and develops projects at IDEO. She also is the frontwoman for IDEO’s all-employee rock band, Fishlocker.