“Victor was robbed,” my wife said, after she and our 10-year-old son returned home from a trip to the grocery store. I recalibrated my line of thinking and deduced that, perhaps, Victor had been robbed in the more conventional sense. He had.
“Victor was robbed,” my wife said, after she and our 10-year-old son returned home from a trip to the grocery store.
My first thought was that she was using “robbed” a metaphor, as is common in sporting events when an occurrence judged to be unjustified in the purview of those familiar with the likeliness of said occurrence actually occurring, negates what should have been a successful endeavor by the athlete deemed to have been “robbed.”
Armed with this belief, I then imagined Victor making a long run down the cereal aisle, then letting go with a beautiful shot on goal, only to have Steve Bartman reach out from behind a shelf and illegally interfere with a ball in play. Cognitively, I was obviously hitting on all cylinders.
I quickly awoke from this reverie, however, and realized I had it all wrong: Why would Steve Bartman be at a grocery store in Springfield, Ill.? And hadn’t he learned his lesson after causing the Cubs all that strife?
I recalibrated my line of thinking and deduced that, perhaps, Victor had been robbed in the more conventional sense.
He had. It went down like this.
While retrieving a gallon of milk from the dairy case, $7 slipped out of his shorts’ pocket. He noticed the money on the ground, but by the time he could go back and retrieve it, someone (not Bartman) had picked it up.
Victor approached the man, and asked if he could please have it back.
“My money!” the man bellowed.
My wife, who had guessed the Grinch-like culprit to be in his 50s, asked what kind of person would steal money from a 10-year-old. This was obviously a rhetorical question, since the man’s character had already been firmly established. “Shut up!” he snapped, defensively.
Before an on-looker could call security, the coward made his getaway.
Victor was left with nothing but a lesson. Given his abiding love of cold, hard cash, it was one he needed to learn.
Victor understands that money is earned through hard work. That $7 was part of the earnings he was paid this summer when he parked cars at his uncle’s lot during the Illinois State Fair.
Unfortunately, Victor believes that money bestows power — a conceit that may be true in the real world, but not in that of a 10-year-old.
The reason he brought cash to the grocery store was so if his request for a certain item was denied by his mom, he could just offer to pay for it himself. This is occasionally allowed.
Victor also mistakenly believes that money can buy him indulgences.
Many a time he has offered me five bucks in exchange for not being sent to his room. This is never allowed. Bonding out of a time-out would require that he post at least $20.
So while I wish that Victor had never been robbed, this experience did show him that money can lead to trouble. He also learned that trouble can have a silver lining.
An envelope addressed to Victor arrived in the mail a week later.
There was no return address, just a plain piece of paper wrapped around $7 in cash. He beamed when he saw the green. His heart not yet hardened. He even entertained the notion that the thief, in a fit of remorse, was the anonymous donor (he wasn’t.)
It didn’t end there. When his grandparents in Florida sent Halloween cards to the kids, Victor’s contained an extra $5 in recompense. (If you’re into math, you’ve figured out that this little life lesson yielded a 71 percent return on investment. Not too shabby.)
Victor is a little wiser now. He knows to wear shorts with deeper pockets when carrying cash. He has learned that there are some bad people in the world.
But he’s also learned that, when the chips are down, he has a lot of good people looking out for him.
Dan Naumovich is a freelance writer and the author of BlogFreeSpringfield. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.