Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Prosperity (05/11/06)
- TITLE: Vanity and Verity
By Dolores Stohler
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"How can anyone be so insensitive," she exclaimed out loud while staring out the front window in the direction of her neighbor Izzy Burton's house. She recalled the conversation that upset her so much.
"I'm giving the boys' old bikes to that poor family down the street," Izzy had said, with an expression of satisfaction. "They have no bikes of their own. And, you know, I heard their dad lost his job again. They say he's an alcoholic!" Izzy pursed her lips in disapproval and continued. "I might as well give them some of the kids' old clothes as well. They're not in the best shape, but then, beggars can't be choosers, you know." She smiled at Lisa now, inviting her to praise her neighbor's good deed. But, feeling embarassed, Lisa quickly made an excuse and left.
She was deeply troubled now as she contemplated how the poor Kramer kids would feel about the hand-me-downs. She knew that Izzy's boys would be eager to boast as they proudly showed off their handsome new bikes to their less fortunate neighbors. And wasn't bragging the other side of envy? She'd heard that in a radio sermon recently. It was a new thought to her and she'd been turning the idea over in her mind ever since. Did people really buy things in order to make other people envious? Did she ever do this? Was the true motive for material success a desire to be better than others? Lisa's conscience continued to trouble her as she mulled over all these new ideas.
She got a reality check when she recalled how she had boasted about that Alaskan cruise she and Alan had taken last summer. Oh, she'd basked in the limelight all right when she'd described the trip to everyone at work, going on at length about the fantastic scenery, beautiful sunsets and the scrumptious buffets they'd experienced. And they'd all looked green with envy as, one by one, they'd admitted they'd never be able to afford such a trip. Of course not! As their supervisor, her salary was much higher than theirs. Now Lisa cringed as she recalled her lack of sensitivity on that occasion. How dare she think she was so much better than her employees! For isn't that what she'd thought, when you came right down to it? Well, surely she could make amends--just like old man Scrooge.
"Alan," said Lisa at the breakfast table next morning. "I've been thinking about the Kramer kids down the street from us. They never have anything new and I'm always out shopping for things for myself. Instead of buying new lawn furniture like we talked about, I want to go down to your bike shop tomorrow and pick up a couple of new bikes for those kids. It would give me more satisfaction than anything else I can think of."
"Why, I think that's a great idea," said Alan, putting down his paper and beaming at her. "You surprise me, Lisa! But let's not make it look too much like charity. We can tell them we need to make room for new stock and, after all, we can claim it as a deduction on our tax return."
"O.K.", Lisa agreed. Inwardly she was thinking, I'll get to them with the bikes before Izzy Burton does. And then they can tell her they don't need her old bikes as they have some brand new ones. She smiled as she imagined the turn of expression on Izzy's smug little face.
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