While living in Texas and for about six months or so my mother decided to find a job…something she had not done since her remarriage. I was about seven and half years old at the time and offered the job of babysitting myself while both she and her husband were at work. My wages for this would be $15 a week, which was one fantastic deal…or so I thought.
I was all set to make some impressive money and I had the perfect place to stash my loot…a giant Tootsie Roll piggy bank. The thing was made out of a thick cardboard tube with white plastic caps on each end and it was about a foot long. I envisioned it being full of dollars within no time.
The job entailed me getting up with my parents around 5:00 in the morning, having breakfast with them and then being on my own for about an hour and half before I took myself off to school via the bus. Once I got home at 3:30 in the afternoon I would have about three hours to myself before they returned from work. It was actually one of the best times of my childhood but it didn’t take me long to figure out I’d been had.
At the end of my first week of babysitting I took my three five dollar bills and slid them through the money slot at the top of my Tootsie bank. In between paydays my bank was kept high up in a top shelf of our kitchen. When I asked for it, my mom would retrieve it from its hiding place above the sink. I’d pick it up and shake it just to hear my wages floating around in there. I was so proud to have my own money even though I had absolutely nothing in mind to spend it on…I was just thrilled to call it mine. The second week was much the same, however by the third week I had an inkling that something was wrong. My bank didn’t seem any heavier and the sound wasn’t any different with $45 than it had been with $15. Extremely suspicious, one day after school I sat down with my bank and popped the plastic top off. Only $15 was present. “What the heck?” I thought and as soon as my mom got home I asked her about the missing five dollar bills. She explained that her and my step-father were short on cash and so had borrowed it but would pay it back soon. That being a very plausible explanation I thought nothing more of it for the next week.
The money didn’t get paid back though. I knew this because I kept climbing on the counter, sneaking it out of the top cupboard and peaking inside my Tootsie Roll tube periodically. I had a notion by then what was going on and in order to test my theory I put a small mark on one of my bills. Come payday of the fifth week I finally discovered, and without any doubt, that I was being paid the same three five dollar bills every Friday. Slightly let down I realized that I was never going to accumulate any wealth beyond my original $15. “Oh well,” I decided…”Life is just too good right now to worry about the money.”
I still laugh about this…how my parents tried to pull one over on me and how I let them think they had. It’s actually a pretty darn good memory.