The year was 1999. I was in Grade 3. Which meant it was time to learn all about pioneers!
Looking back, that seems a bit silly to me. Is an eight-year-old really supposed to be interested in learning about pioneers? It just seems a bit too soon.
Back then, all I cared about was snack time, recess, and who I sat next to on the carpet.
Do we ever get to a point in our life where we don’t care about who we sit next to on a carpet? Think about it.
As part of the curriculum, Pioneer Day was held for everyone in Grade 3. An entire day devoted to living like pioneers.
That included: wearing one of my Dad’s really big plaid shirts, sitting in the classroom with the lights off, and standing up whenever we had to ask the teacher something.
Essentially, the entire pioneer experience was right at my fingertips.
I remember the day before Pioneer Day, we had to practice raising our hands, standing up, and politely asking to go to the washroom. That was the first time I heard the, “May I go to the washroom?” vs. “Can I go to the washroom?” discussion. I never understood the pleasure some teachers got by saying, “I don’t know, can you?”
Emphasis on the can. No pun intended.
All someone wanted to do was go to the washroom, and an english lesson broke out.
If I stood up and screamed “Toilet!”, would the teacher ask me to put it in a complete sentence, or would they immediately understand that I was in a dire situation?
Fast forward to present day for one second. If I’m sitting at a table and I require ketchup for my fries, and the ketchup is on the other side of the table, the next words out of my mouth are
“Stop hoggin’ the Heinz!” “Can you pass the ketchup?” And every time, someone will pass it to me without saying, “I don’t know, can I?”
School should be more like real life, just sayin’.
Alright, so Pioneer Day was finally here. I wore one of my Dad’s really big plaid shirts and pulled off the Donald Duck look for the day.
Just kidding, I wasn’t wearing a bow tie.
The shirt was tucked into my pants and kept my knees warm throughout the day. The short sleeves almost reached my wrists. Almost! I must’ve been growing.
So there we were sitting in our dark classroom, relying on the light in the hallway to fill the room (ironic, huh?), when I thought I would ask to go to the washroom.
I raised my hand, was called upon, stood up like a proud pioneer and said, “May I go to the washroom?” “You may.”
I exited the room and instantly turned into a kid from 1999 who showed up to school wearing an oversized shirt. Pioneer Day was on hold. Nature had called.
I’ve been waiting two and a half years to make a phone call/washroom pun on this blog.
It’s important to note that the door of my classroom gave a view of the entire hallway. There was no hiding. If you looked into another class to find a friend, my teacher would see you in plain sight.
If you pulled out a phone to text, they would see you. It was the 90s.
After I left the washroom, I went back to class. All of a sudden, I noticed something folded up on the floor next to the wall. It was blue. This being Canada, it was a five-dollar bill!
Oh my goodness, a five-dollar bill! It was folded about four times. I picked it up. I was rich. With very little sense of what five dollars could buy, I was thinking I could afford a mansion. Or, at the very least, a cozy two bedroom apartment with a view.
Little did I realize that I now had a five-dollar dilemma on my freshly washed hands.
I had to find a place to store my riches. I didn’t have a wallet and my pants didn’t have a pocket. My oversized shirt had a pocket, though! A front pocket. I put the five-dollar bill in the pocket and started walking back to class.
Only problem was, it was too obvious. The pocket was too big. The bill bounced around my like a pinball and I feared it might fall out, or worse, be spotted by someone who wanted an explanation.
At this point, my adorable eight-year-old conscience was getting the best of me, too.
Or maybe I had seen too many episodes of Scooby Doo and was familiar with the line, “I would’ve gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for you meddling kids and that dog of yours.” and didn’t want to find myself reciting that line in the Principal’s office.
Nah, let’s go with the conscience thing.
Running out of options, I took the folded up five-dollar bill out of my pocket and threw it back on the ground where I found it. That’s right, I put a five-dollar bill back on the floor. I intentionally lost five dollars.
A trip to the washroom and two money transactions, within four minutes. What a busy school day.
My future two bedroom apartment with a view was thrown away just like that. All because I didn’t have a pocket which properly disclosed the money. And because of my Canadian conscience, of course.
What would my Dad do if he ever found five dollars on the ground? This shirt pocket was not fit to carry money. People. Would. See. It. Poor Dad.
The pioneer wardrobe failed me.
I like to think I did a good thing that day. And I didn’t even brag about it to anyone. What a concept.
Probably because the entire class would’ve asked to go to the washroom and scoop the five dollars for their greedy, money hungry, mansion dreaming, selves.
I wonder if kids still have Pioneer Day. Or if they have updated it to “90s Day.” Where the kids have to wear jean jackets, questionable hairstyles, and their Mom’s old fanny pack.
That way, if they found five dollars on the floor, they would have somewhere to put it.