Nick and Nolan went to the grocery store with their mom almost every Sunday afternoon. They hated making the trip. The music on the speakers was nothing they had heard before, although mom hummed along with the songs. Little did they know that the music was implemented as a subliminal force to keep people relaxed while shopping and therefore spending more money.
“Stop hitting me,” Nick said.
“You pushed me first,” Nolan answered.
“Will you boys just stop? The next aisle is the cookie aisle and if you’re good, I’ll let you each pick out one package of cookies.”
It seemed to the boys like the entire day had been wasted at the store while they could have been out playing ball. Finally, they approached the checkout.
“Nick, you get in front of the cart and start unloading the groceries from there. Nolan and I will do the ones we can reach from here. That way we’ll get done faster,” mom said.
Chips Ahoy and Golden Oreos were carefully placed together to remind the boys of their reward for helping.
“Paper or plastic?” the cashier asked.
“Paper, please,” mom said. “They’re easier to unload.” She knew that nobody requested paper bags anymore, but she still found uses for them and hated the little plastic bags that held three items each.
Monday was a school day. Nick and Nolan walked to and from school together since they lived too close to take the bus. They liked school about as much as any seven and eight year old boys did. Recess and lunch gave them something to look forward to.
At the end of the school day, they hoisted their backpacks on their respective shoulders and began the trek home. As usual, they talked about their teachers and the other kids. Nick started running and Nolan chased after him. When they got home, mom would let them shoot hoops before doing homework so they were in a hurry.
Nolan noticed something on the sidewalk up ahead. It was a paper bag. As he knew from his trips to the grocery store, nobody used paper bags anymore. It wasn’t ‘green,’ his teacher said. Obviously his mother either disagreed or didn’t worry about such things.
The bag was all puffed out and he stopped about a foot away from it.
“Look, Nick. That bag looks full,” he said.
“Yeah, it’s probably filled with trash,” Nick said condescendingly.
They approached it warily and when they were about three feet away they agreed to run up and kick it as hard as they could. They expected to see garbage scatter everywhere but little boys are rarely deterred by the consequences of their actions.
“One, two, three, go!” said Nick.
They got to the bag almost at the same moment and kicked it as hard as they could. They scurried around it, expecting papers, cans and other discarded items to explode. They looked back and saw money, lots of money up in the air, falling to the ground. They rushed back and stared in disbelief!
“Wow! Nick, look at all these dollar bills,” Nolan said.
Eight-year old Nolan, slightly more sophisticated than his younger brother realized that in the corners of these bills weren’t 1s, they were 10s and 20s!
“Nolan, there must be a million dollars here!”
They looked around to see if anyone was watching. Nobody was. Nolan started stuffing the bills in his pockets and Nick followed his lead. When their pockets were full, they unhitched their backpacks and put the rest of the money in the zipper compartments where their lunches had been. After all the bills were off the sidewalk, they left the bag and ran home.
Mom was waiting for them on the front porch. They were so excited when they ran up to her that they both started talking at once.
“Slow down, boys. One at a time,” she said. “I can’t hear either of you when you’re both shouting over one another.”
Before they could explain, their hands went into their pockets and they started emptying the bills in front of her. Her eyes widened as she stared in disbelief.
“Where did you get all that money?” she asked. They recounted the story as quickly and logically as any boys their ages.
“Mom,” Nick said, “Can we go to the grocery store with you again next week? No wonder you always want paper bags instead of plastic!”