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Teen Fiction: Scratch That Plan

Malky Cope

But she left it in the garbage, a voice inside me argued. She obviously didn’t care about it. The money is yours to keep

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

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T he allure of easy cash had led me to do something I wasn’t proud of. It had seemed like a good idea at the time, and I had silenced my conscience, thinking I would be able to get away with it.

 Now I was in a quandary. It felt wrong. I wanted to just scratch the plan, but I was already in too deep. Besides, I could really use the $300. I had so many things I needed (read: wanted) to buy with that money. I thought about all the things I could do with the money. It seemed like an easy choice. But was I prepared to take such a step?

Let me explain. Most of my friends earn pocket money by being a mother’s helper or babysitting, but I really don’t like looking after children (other than my own cute siblings). Wiping runny noses, bathing dirty, sticky children and reading bedtime stories are not tasks I enjoy doing, even for pay. But a teenager has to earn a living somehow. I needed my own independent cash flow for all the things my parents deemed as extras and refused to pay for but were actually crucial for my social survival. I was desperate for a job when the perfect solution turned up. 

My mother happened to bump into my neighbor in the grocery store. Mrs. Feldman is a darling, elderly grandmother, and they started chatting. Turned out she was looking to pay a girl to help her with cooking and some light cleaning on Thursdays, and to clean up after Shabbos on Sunday. Mrs. Feldman asked my mother if she knew someone responsible for the job. Of course, the first person that my mother thought of was yours truly. I love cooking and cleaning too (don’t gasp!), and Mrs. Feldman was willing to pay nicely. The arrangement worked out very well and we were both happy… until that fateful Sunday. 

That day, Mrs. Feldman was out when I arrived. I let myself into her house as she had instructed me to and I began doing my regular chores. I was tidying up the kitchen and about to take out the garbage when I saw it lying at the very top of the bag — an empty juice carton with the telltale silver rectangle. That brand was the talk of town with its latest promotion: Every carton of juice came with a scratch-off. You could win money or expensive prizes. Without thinking too much, I fished the carton out and scratched it. Wow — I was the instant winner of $300!

Except that I wasn’t sure I was the winner. Maybe Mrs. Feldman was the winner? Should I ask a rav? But she left it in the garbage, a voice inside me argued. She obviously didn’t care about it. The money is yours to keep. 

With the image of three crisp $100 bills dancing in front of me, I chose to listen to that voice.  

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 705)

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