Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Life - Johnny Appleseed

(This story has a bike involved in it, I promise.)

Pretty much everyone knows the story of Johnny Appleseed. He roamed around parts of the US, eating apples, planting apple trees where he wandered. People use his story to illustrate the need for long term investments, typically in money or, for our purposes, people (like coaching and such). A little discipline or knowledge imparted now can grow into reams of character later.

This morning a young boy came into the store, leaving his bike around the corner. He needed to buy a utilitarian thing, nothing a 10 year old would buy for himself. When I queried him on why he needed it, he answered that he wanted to buy it so his mom didn't have to weed by hand.

I helped him locate the item and brought it to the counter. With tax the total cost came to $20.20.

The boy pulled out a homemade duct tape wallet, filled with a lot of singles, a five, and one quarter. He started counting the singles.

I stepped back, giving him privacy to count his money.

After a little too much time I discretely looked over. I realized he was recounting so I kept an eye on him. His face fell visibly on his confirmation count.

Suspecting a slight shortage of funds, I asked him what was wrong.

"I don't have enough money."

I could see his mind frozen, unable to get beyond the fact that he didn't have enough money. He wanted that item, we didn't have it any cheaper, and we didn't have any alternatives.

"How much do you have?" I asked him.

"Eighteen dollars and 25 cents."

"Well, let's see what I can do on this side."

I put in a code for a contractor's discount, a 10% break on discountable items. This utilitarian item qualified.

When I hit the total button the total came out a bit lower: $18.18.

I looked at the boy.

"I'm going to pretend you're a contractor, okay? Contractors get a break on certain items, and in your case, as a contractor, with your contractor's discount, your cost for this item will be $18.18."

I could see him processing the words, the amount, and the comprehension that the total cost was less than his $18.25.

The boy's face lit up.

I carefully counted out his change, seven cents, and handed it to him with his receipt.

"Thank you," he said, his mood noticeably brighter.

He was about to put the coins in his duct tape wallet but paused, then looked up at me.

"Here, you should keep the change," he said, offering the money back to me.

He walked out, head up, holding his prize. He came back a few minutes later - he'd assembled it in the parking lot, managed to stick it in his backpack sack, and asked me if there was a garbage can around where he could throw out the box.

I told him I could take care of it. He handed it over, thanked me again, and walked out to his bike.


Anonymous said...

Aki, you are a great story teller. Thanks for posting this and brightening my day.

Aki said...

I wrote this right after it happened so I wouldn't forget. He brightened my day too.

I told a co-worker you never know. It's like the Porsche ads where a 10 year old (or thereabouts) goes into the dealership and some butler-looking dignified guy shows him a Porsche. Then fast forward 30 years and the boy is now a young man, driving his dream car, a Porsche. Now, I have no illusions that this boy will dream about having a better garden sprayer but I figure he'll be a better kid for what happened today.

Anonymous said...

I am reminded of what C.S. Lewis wrote, (paraphrase) that things don't last forever, only people last forever. I feel you made the world a better place with your action and heart. Thanks for the post. -Ron

Eddy A. said...

Great story, and pretty short too :-)

Sadly, if I were that kid I would have most likely tried to buy some candy with the change.