High School Follies: A Capitalist Approach to Kindness

Next installment of the “what was I thinking” things I wrote in high school!

(See other posts here, here, here.)

This one’s just funny, really. Not that it intended to be funny, but oh dear lord, is it ever funny. I don’t have much else of great import to say about it.

Except: My mother taught economics in twelfth grade when I wrote this, and everyone laughed at how I wrote about “long-term investment,” when really all I had been drawing from was the way the school talked about how chesed affects your life and how much it can affect your shidduchim. I was a lil feminist, subverting their “everything you do will affect your marriage prospects” into “I can get a job based on what I did as a teenager.”

Also, note the “Hungry Hippos” reference. I was exasperated at that point at the way my little sisters loved to play that game, and I hated it…

Also also, I obviously had no idea how jobs worked. I mean, the nepotism is accurate. But the “this is the only job in Boror Park” – lol.


Long Term Investment

Raizy trudged down the block. She just wanted to go to bed, but she’d promised Mrs. Greenbaum that she’d help her again. She loved kids, but the Greenbaums were extremely lively – and it wasn’t as if she got anything for it! The first time Raizy went to help Mrs. Greenbaum, it had been as a favor to a neighbor. Raizy sighed. Her “volunteer” status had been established then for all her jobs.

‘Why do I have to be so good-natured?’ she thought. ‘Why can’t I just say no for once?’

“Hi, Raizy!” Mrs. Greenbaum said as she opened the door. “Right on time, as usual! Thanks so much for coming. I’m going out. I’ll be back soon. Bye!”

Raizy smiled and waved and went to the kitchen, where the kids were finishing supper.

“Hi, Raizy!” Moishy greeted her, throwing his arms around her and splattering her with ketchup. “We got a new game today, and Mommy said you’ll play with us!”

“Really, Moishy?” Raizy enthused, disentangling him from her waist. “Well, finish youor supper, and then we’ll see about it.”

“Raizy!” Sarala yelled. “We learned alpeh today! Look!” She ran and pulled the aleph-bina off the shelf.

“Sarala,” Raizy called, “come back to the table. You’ll show me while you’re eating.”

“But then it’ll get dirty!” Sarala pouted.

‘Oh, no,’ Raizy thought. ‘I really don’t want a tantrum now. My head is splitting.’ She pulled Sarala onto her lap and opened the aleph-bina.

“OK, Sarala, so show me now, and then you’ll finish eating.”

“Who cares about alpeh!” Moishy shouted. “I already know all the nekudos! Let me show you.”

“Wow, Moishy, you’re almost a tzaddik already! But first Sarala will show me alpeh, and then it’ll be your turn, OK?”

“No!” Moishy grabbed the aleph-bina and flipped the pages to the nekudos. Sarala began bawling, and Raizy began consoling.


Half an hour later, when Sarala and Moishy had both finished their supper, they pulled Raizy into the playroom.

“Look what Tatty bought us!” Moishy said proudly, holding up a box labeled “Hungry Hippos.”

“We even know how to play,” added Sarala. “Watch!”

They unpacked the game and set it up.

“See?” explained Moishy. “You press here, and the hippo comes and eats the ballies!” He proceeded to demonstrate with an earsplitting racket. “You play also!” he shouted over the din. Ignoring her throbbing temples, Raizy smiled and sat down to join in their fun.


“I’m really nervous,” Raizy confided to her friend Esti. “I mean, I know Fraidy also wants the job, and she has a much better chance at it than me, don’t you think?”

“Yeah,” Esti commented wryly, “Being that she’s the principal’s niece, you mean?”

“Exactly,” said Raizy. “But you know, I’ve been dreaming of being a pre-school teacher for such a long time. If I don’t get this job, I’m not sure I’ll be able to get any! This is the only opening in all the schools in Boro Park, after all.”

“I know,” Esti said sympathetically. “Honestly, I don’t see how you have a chance over Fraidy. Maybe you should look for a completely different job.”

“But I want to teach pre-school so badly!” Raizy cried. “I think I made a good impression at the interview. Not that that’ll outweigh Fraidy’s pull, though. Well, no harm in hoping, is there?”

“Not at all,” laughed Esti, “except getting your hopes up for nothing. Well, call me as soon as you know one way or the other, OK?”

“Of course,” said Raizy. “As soon as I know.”


“Hello?” Esti answered the phone.

“Esti! Hi, it’s Raizy. Guess what? The principal called and asked me to come down tomorrow to talk salary!”

“Wow, Raizy! That is so great! I’m really happy for you. So much for not getting our hopes up!”

“I guess it wasn’t for nothing, after all.”

“But why’d she choose you over her niece, I wonder? You can’t really ask her, so we’ll probably never know why.”

“Actually,'” Raizy said, “I do know why. Remember Mrs. Greenbaum, the one I helped for so many times?”

“How could I forget?” Esti laughed. “With all of us spending our evenings earning money by babysitting, and you helping Mrs. Greenbaum for free…”

“Well, I got paid now – and with interest! ‘Cuz the principal told me she called Mrs. Greenbaum as a reference, and her report was the main reason I got the job!”

“Shti-cky! Talk about long-term investments!”

Scan_20180528 (2)
The cover of the “Chesed Press,” the school’s quarterly updates on all the chesed initiatives. The logo in the top right corner is taken from a long-running popular children’s publication, the Olomeinu, published by Torah Umesorah. It’s completely unrelated, though. Just using the same words and logo, with the added words “of chesed.”

2 thoughts on “High School Follies: A Capitalist Approach to Kindness

  1. “Shti-cky!” 🙂

    And aleph-bina’s! And hungry-hungry hippos! So much nostalgia!

    The commercial for that game was fun.

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