The nearly empty tin

Nearly paralyzed by the anguish of despair, the poor Mr. F dragged his feet beneath the warm sun as he pondered whether to beg, steal or forget about a morsel of food. The answer created a struggle of character more than hunger as he walked further from the sidewalk adjoining his school and a gas station. To his surprise, a cherry apple colored car screeched to a halt in a gas lane. The driver door swung open and exposed a well-dressed young person whose thickly heeled shoes tapped the ground with severity. Keen on concealing the extent of his curiosity, Mr. F adjusted his navigation toward the array of cigarette ads and scratched windows to get a clear view of the newcomer’s reflection.

To Mr. F’s surprise, the suave energy and tailored attire of a bearded young lad uplifted his spirits and pushed him to the point of laughter when he reflected on the juxtaposition of gracelessness and elegance of the arrival. It was a change of pace in this part of the city where bursts of expression puncture the stale sensation of normalcy but depart just as quickly. As the gentleman hurried from his car to the entrance, Mr. F straightened his posture and allowed the spectacle to enter first.

Inside, the gas station attendants boisterously debated with a paying customer the previous night’s surprise football victory. The debate ensued with “Yo, bro” strewn throughout the conversation, which Mr. F learned to expect as much as the consistent banana supply at the first register. He sauntered down the chip and frozen food aisle, which led to the fully stocked energy drink display where Mr. F routinely scrutinized lists of ingredients and caffeine contents.

His final decision was the same as always so he let the door slam shut as he went up a different aisle toward the animated sports conversation. Not wanting to be rude, he hovered on the carpeted space and looked to his left to see if the red car was still parked outside. To his dismay, he remembered hearing the clicking of heavy heals exit as he contemplated the origins of taurine but the absence of the car left a foreboding sentiment in the pit of Mr. F’s stomach.

“Alright, I can help next customer right here,” exclaimed one of the cashiers.

“Hi, how are you today?” inquired Mr. F.

“Just fine, thank you. And yourself?”

“Well, thanks. Can I get a,” Mr. F quickly scanned the familiar candy display just below the register, “Never mind. Just the drink will do.”

The cashier rambled something very quickly to his coworker then asked Mr. F as he prepared to swipe his card, “Debit or credit today?”

“Credit will do, thanks,” replied Mr. F.

“Credit, alright. Go ahead and swipe.”

Mr. F swiped his card and waited for the receipt as the cashier greeted a new customer. A receipt was the least of his desires so he waved to the cashier while he turned to the left and made his way back to the school.
____

Mr. F recognized one of the voices exclaiming, “Hey, Ms. Y,” or “Hey, Ms. G,” blurted out by students who were scolded for not walking quietly in the hallway. He gazed at the desks upon which he laid handouts for his exam review but Mr. F felt certain the afternoon would flow smoothly to review for the forthcoming test. His plan entailed a question and answer competition with opportunities for students to earn sweet incentives. This, in his mind, would influence students to recognize the advantage of a review day and improve their disruptive behavior exhibited in previous weeks.

Just a few minutes before they were released from lunch, he remembered he needed to retrieve the vintage tin (a lengthy container holding sweet incentives) from its hiding place. He snatched a sheet of paper left on the floor while approaching the metal storage cupboard, slowly opened the door and peered over his right shoulder to make sure no one was watching as they passed his room.

He grabbed what used to be a tin for crackers but Mr. F noticed the weight was significantly lighter than when he left his class the day before. As he moved from the rear corner to the front of his classroom where he would place the bribing system, he opened the lid and found only a quarter of the full supply of incentives left in the tin. The only thing on Mr. F’s mind was getting through a successful day of reviewing with his students and while candy was the least of his worries, stealing was quite another matter.

As he walked toward the board of the classroom, one of his more amiable students entered the room and inquired, “Ey, Mr. F, can I have some candy?”

In an instant, Mr. F’s stomach tensed and wanted to remark, “It’s rather difficult to appease you and your classmates’ plethora of desires especially when a simple incentive system can be abused in the manner I recovered it within fourteen hours of leaving my classroom.” However, he decided a succinct note inside the tin would suffice as he continued walking down the hall to return the culprit’s worksheet, which he found in the vicinity of the nearly empty tin.

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