Maeta’s Fable: Hard Work

Goofus and Gallant were given exactly the same items to acquire. It isn’t that surprising – their mothers had always been close friends, and the two women agreed about some of the snacks they liked to include in their pantries. So on that particular Tuesday, each young man was tasked with the purchase of jumbo sunflower seeds, a certain brand of biscotti, a bag of pepitas, and dried tart cherries.

Everyone knows only Andronico’s carries the jumbo seeds. That store has the biscotti too. For the pumpkin seeds and the Montmorencies one goes to Trader Joe’s. So it wasn’t like a scavenger hunt. It was just a small shopping list at the beginning of a normal day.

Gallant drove his car. Goofus had to walk unless he paid bus fare. Those conditions were expected effects after their individual causes: Gallant had his Toyota because of his grades and his excellent performance in the driver ed class; Goofus got into trouble so often that he didn’t receive rewards.

Gallant got right on the errands. He buzzed off to Andronico’s and purchased the bags of sunflower seeds. Then he couldn’t read his list – there was interference in the store and his iPhone garbled – and that so frustrated him that he left the place. He was almost home when he remembered the dried cherries. He detoured to Trader Joe’s for them.

His e-problem cleared by the time he got back to the house. That’s when he realized he’d forgotten the biscotti. That kind of mistake wasn’t like him; he made another trip to Andronico’s in a state of exasperation. So it wasn’t till he returned home for the second time that he saw the fourth item. He had to go out again, back to Trader Joe’s for the pepitas, and the whole project ended up making him late for his afternoon activities.

Goofus had an alternate experience. He didn’t want to shop for his mother but he knew there was no way out of it. He wrote the four items in the small notebook he carried – Goofus didn’t have an iPhone or any type of PDA, so he analogged with paper and ink. He slung his old backpack on over his right shoulder and hit the streets.

He figured he’d visit Andronico’s first. It was farthest from home and that way he’d make that leg of the trip with his pack at its lightest. Not that the items were weighty, but Goofus had learned to spare himself what he could. So he walked briskly to Andronico’s and purchased sunflower seeds and biscotti. He drew lines through those words on his list, put the items and the list in his pack, and proceeded to Trader Joe’s. That’s where he added the pepitas and dried cherries to his purchases. That’s when he headed home.

He plopped the four foods on the kitchen counter, kissed his mother, and headed out for the rest of his day. His pack felt light and his mood was easy.

Both mothers served biscotti for dessert that evening. Goofus dunked his in green tea. Gallant declined. He said the sight of the twice-baked cookies reminded him of how hard he worked, running errands, and how that made him late all day. His parents clucked sympathetically.

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