The Trouble – Pushproop Brar
It was a pleasant day in late summer and in the evening the teenage friends, Paul and Ron, went out for a shopping stroll. The casual walk also had the purpose to go out shopping for some essential and last-minute stationery. The money was always short and sundry expenses were sponsored by their parents.
As they were out purchasing, Paul was mindful of an earlier conversation he had with his mother.
“Paul, you should always negotiate. Stretch your dollar, remember a dollar saved is a dollar earned. Your dad works so hard to provide for us all. Today I would like you to show me… Don’t spend the whole $10.00 to save something.”
Paul had heard this a lot of times. Now he had become older so he could think.
“Mom, if I save the dollar, what can I do with it?”
Mom was not expecting this and did not want to change her words of wisdom. She still wanted to encourage him to save. “Save then you can enjoy, have fun.” Mom was satisfied that she had given some wisdom to her child. Paul now had moral authority. He wanted to save money and have fun.
Ron and Paul were buddies. They would often hang around a lot. They were two separate personalities. Ron was the son of a rich man and was a more adventurous and street-smart kind of guy. Paul was more docile and was not a leader but a good follower.
“I need some stationery for tomorrow. I think we should go to the narrow dusty road,” said Paul.
“Oh, no…not …but why there…? It is too far, I can’t walk very much. Besides, it has very small shops which are very crowded,” said Ron.
“I… I know. We have some wholesale shops there.”
“I don’t understand about all this wholesale deal of yours. You are a jerk and always look to save dollars.”
“I have to save. I am not a rich kid born with a silver spoon.”
Ron, getting a bit annoyed, said, “You and your satires…Firstly, you are not poor by any standards. Secondly, here you will waste more time. Getting to these places doesn’t make much of a difference. Time is money.”
“Ron, listen we are going and that is final we are going.” In the back of his mind, he was thinking about what his mother had said about stretching the dollar.
The duo reached the market and looked around various shops. Paul stepped forward and negotiated before he purchased the study material. Following this purchase, there was some overflow cash left. Paul was excited he had achieved his end and now he felt like a king.
“l….I did it, I did it….”
“Paul, how much did you save?”
“I saved $4.00.”
“Wow! That is great. We will have fun. Let us grab a soda, now let us enjoy.”
Paul was in two moods: he had saved the money because his mother had advised him, and he also did not want to say no to Ron. After all, Ron was his buddy and had been helpful to him several times in the past. The temptation of soda got the better of the teenager and they soon entered a sit-down fancy restaurant.
The eatery was a popular place and was in the basement of the shopping plaza. It was upscale and well-decorated, with dim lights and a nice soothing latest selection of popular music. The aroma was pleasing to the olfactory senses. It had very cushy and comfortable seats. As they entered the place the uniformed security guard who was more than double the age stood up and saluted them. All this pleased them and made them feel important.
As they sat down the waiter dressed in traditional costume approached them and presented a menu card. Paul did not study it carefully and ordered two sodas. It was not the soda that mattered, it was the feeling of being in control, and today they were feeling like victors. They had become mature enough to visit and be served at a posh joint. This time it was also without parents or any adults.
Soon the same person came back with two black bubbling drinks. It was hot so there was tons of ice in the glass. The cubes of ice were made to cool the drink and did another job they helped the management save. A large volume of the glass was occupied by the ice. The ice melted and the drink became diluted and did not taste that good. This time that did not matter to them. The company and conversation seemed to rule the roost.
As they sat sipping the diluted black drink and chatting. The waiter came back holding a plastic tray on which sat a colored leather folder. He presented it to the duo. Paul was paying so he acknowledged and opened it. He casually looked at the piece of paper. As Paul stared at the numbers his eyes widened and he stiffened. Ron understood something was wrong. It was obvious the amount was too much
“Paul is everything alright. You look totally shaken as if you have been hit by a ton of bricks.”
Paul, with his lips parched, eyes dilated and clearly nervous, said, ”…. I… I…. the…. Thin… I think we are in tr… trouble…”
Ron on the other hand was confident, acting in control and very calm.
“Trouble.. What kind of trouble? We have no earthquakes. Fire or shooting.”
Paul by now had turned pale and could hardly speak anything coherently, “This bill… is ri.. ride.. ridiculous… very high…much more than… the money I… have saved. That is all in my pocket today.”
Ron was still very stoic and tranquil. It looked as if nothing had happened and he was a man. He acted firmly and quickly grabbed the paper from the sweaty and shaky hands of his friend.
Glancing at the bottom of the paper, “Here, let me see, what is the amount?” and then his eyes fell upon the number of $8.50
Paul was still not himself; he had suffered a shock of his life and Ron looked to be the only guy who could save him.
“I had only saved $4.00. I am not sure, I don’t know what will happen to us now? I think… I plan… Should we apologize? Maybe they will let us pay later.”
“Apologize …pay later….. buddy you have lost it. Are you crazy?”
Ron knew very well they had nothing apart from the cash of $4.00. They were kids and they had no card and no other form of payment.
Paul was confused, unable to get himself together, and at his wit’s end. He looked up to his buddy Ron to find a solution.
As the now scary guy in what looked like the terrible traditional dress approached. The calm Ron took over. He turned around and said to the guy standing on their neck.
“We are still thirsty. Please get me two more drinks.”
Paul did not understand why Ron had ordered more drinks. He wanted to ask but kept quiet as he did not know what else to do. He had an adrenaline rush and was sighing deeply.
The guy turned and walked towards the kitchen. The moment the threat vanished in the kitchen area Ron quickly looked around one or two times to make sure he did not miss anything.
Then towards Paul with firm eyes
“Paul, coolly get up and follow me, make no noise. Just trust me on this.”
Paul had known Ron for years. He quietly followed Ron like the timid sheep following the herd
Paul noticed the place was empty and the Security guard was also gone.
The duo got up quietly and stealthily slipped away. They were calm and walked leisurely to the parking lot with Ron in the lead. As they left the building they sped away and ran to the street.
Paul was stunned and in awe of how serenely Ron saved the huge trouble. In his heart he was happy but he also heard his conscience tell him this was wrong. He still could not muster the courage to challenge and confront Ron.
At a safe place, Paul turned to Ron.
“ Ron, you certainly saved the day. It could be very shameful and a lot of trouble. We can’t go back there.”
”Paul, don’t be silly, there are so many other places. Besides, the waiters don’t last that long.