The Broken Tool.

Ron sat at his desk pondering what should be done for the student he’d just dismissed from the office. Not enough money to register for the semester and it happened to be his last semester. He pulled the file and began to check out his progress during past semester. Grades were excellent, he’d worked in one of the college industries and had a good report, but while he’d done his best trying his hand selling books during vacation the money turned in would not be enough to see him through. Ron had told him to return later that day and he’d tell him if he was to be recommended for scholarship. The decision would be either to register for classes, or tell him to drop out and see if he could raise enough to register next semester. Playing with a person’s future is serious business.
There were so many students like Ramesh. Deciding whether to register them and hope they settled with the college when they found work was really deciding to write off their debt. It was quite easy to decide if they hadn’t worked well in industries work program available to poor students. If they were not serious about helping themselves then they didn’t deserve a leg up. There was a substantial fund to offer scholarships but applications for scholarship far outweighed funds at hand so one had to be choosy. Ron would have to decide whether to recommend Ramesh to the committee set up to decide each case on merit. He made a quick decision. He’s recommend Ramesh to be admitted.
He was about to buzz his secretary and ask for the next file and request she send another difficult student to attend for interview when the phone rang. He sighed and picked it up. It had been a hot, uncomfortable and wearing day.
There was a loud wailing at the other end and the voice sounded vaguely familiar. What was it this time? Someone fall out of a double decker bed in one of the resident halls? A snake bite requiring a quick rush to a down town hospital? A fight that required administrative discipline?
Then another voice intruded and this time it was very clear who that person was. There was excitement in the voice and Ron felt the adrenalin rush. His cherubs! Their Mom must have been at the College, but why wasn’t the hired help on line? He glanced quickly at the wall clock. Yes, Matty would not be at home now.
“What’s going on?” Ron’s voice revealed concern and he jerked out of the chair ready to deal with the calamity. Thankfully they had a house on campus. He could be there in a minute.
“Melody broke your favourite tool kit and she’s bawling her eyes out!” Jill sounded quite pleased about it. Sisters!
Ron relaxed and sank back into his chair. He dialled his secretary who picked up her line wearily. It had been a long hot day for her too.
“I have to take a few minutes off to deal with a child emergency at home. I won’t be long but you’ll have to find out if the students can come back tomorrow. If their case is urgent they’ll have to wait. You can leave for home on time as I know you have children to care for when they finish school for the day. I’ll handle the rest by myself.” There was an audible sigh of relief from the other end of the line.
Ron grabbed his Vespa and sped off to the other end of the estate campus where faculty homes were located and skidded to a stop behind their car in the attached open sided garage. Mary the hired help stood at the back door wringing her hands and once again Ron’s blood pressure went up. Was Melody injured?
There was no problem working out where Melody was. Loud sobbing coming from the back yard was a good direction finder. Ron ran through the garage to the back yard and found the two girls. When Melody saw her father approach noise levels ratcheted up.
Jill came running and smiling. “Are you going to punish her? She broke your favourite tools!”
“What do you think I should do Jill?”
“I think you should punish her, she broke your favourite tools.”
Ron paused and smiled. “Does that mean if you had broken the tools I should punish you Jill?”
Jill paused to think that one through and sobered up. She shook her head and retreated to watch from a distance away from her father.
Ron walked over to the tools and looked at his prized collection. The hammer handle was broken in two, the rest of the collection seemed intact. He turned to face Melody.
“What did I tell you girls about this tool set Melody?” Ron put his finger over her lips to indicate she should stop crying. Her chest continued to heave as she tried to calm down. She looked at the ground and remained silent.
Ron beckoned Jill to join them and she advanced slowly and uncertainly.
“What did I tell you girls about these tools?”
“You said don’t touch them!” She looked accusingly at Melody.
“Actually, I said don’t touch any tools unless I’m with you, remember? You might get hurt!”
Jill nodded vigorously while Melody continued to stare at the ground trying not to cry.
“Now Jill, remembering what I asked you before, do you think I should punish any girls who don’t listen to their parents?”
“Jill considered this carefully, then said, “Don’t know!”
Ron turned to Melody. “How did you feel when Jill told me on the phone you’d broken the tools and when you saw me come around the corner just now?”
Melody resumed her tears. “I was frightened you’d smack me!”
“Do you think I should?” Ron could hardly hold himself from comforting the child.
“Yes!” Melody wailed.
Ron picked the child up and hugged her. “Well Melody I’m not going to smack you because I think you’ve punished yourself. I don’t think you’ll disobey again will you? You were frightened when you broke that hammer. I’m happy you didn’t try and use one of the chisels. You could have really hurt yourself with one of those. Promise you won’t use the tools again unless I’m with you, OK?”
Ron turned to Jill. “Do you think that was the right thing for me to do?”
Jill looked at the ground and nodded.
“Good, now let’s gather up the tools and put them away. I don’t know how you got them off that high shelf Melody, you’re too small for that?
Jill decided it was time to go to her room and read and Ron smiled. It seemed Melody was not the only one at fault.
I’m going back to the office now. Mary will tell me if you are misbehaving.
Mary who’d been listening to the drama looked horrified. She would never rat on the kids and Ron knew that.
Ron sped back to the office and noted the line of students waiting outside the closed door for him to reappear. His secretary had taken him at his word it seemed and after all it was time to quit for the day.
He saw Ramesh hanging around looking hopeful and stopped to talk with him. “I’m going to recommend your name to the scholarship committee which meets tonight. Come and see me tomorrow morning and we’ll see if you can register for this semester.”
Ron motioned to the students still waiting. They obviously must not have been registered for classes and were trying their luck beyond student admissions where those who paid were processed. They had to be serious otherwise they’d be down at the cafeteria for their evening meal. He sighed, motioned them into the waiting room and closed the outside door. Then wheeling the files into his office, he began to methodically process each student. Perhaps some of them would be eligible for a scholarship application after an interview?

“© Copyright Ian Grice 2017 All rights reserved”

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13 thoughts on “The Broken Tool.

  1. You managed to weave Ron’s two roles together well, passing from omnipotent arbiter of student’s lives to paternal disciplinarian. I liked your approach in which both were given equal emphasis. Parenting is tough and I applaud Ron for his reaction to the broken hammer. You don’t tell us how that strong tool got broken by a little girl. I bet that is a story which could stand on its own, I’d even hazard a guess that both girls were implicit in the events leading up to the accident..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would suspect both girls were involved but the younger was the one who instigated and broke the tool. It must have been a powerful blow that broke the wooden handle? lol. I’m sure there would have been extreme care taken when tempted again.


  2. I’m curious – it must have taken some doing to break a hammer handle. But then again, children are so intrepid.

    Brought to mind a similar situation at home in the early 1990s.

    My son, who was all of 4 years, called me in the office and bawled on the telephone. He had broken a glass ornament recently bought on a business trip to Taiwan. When I assured him I will not be cross – his crying stopped immediately, as if someone threw a switch. I’d to stifle a laugh. Yeah, in my home I was the disciplinarian.
    Lisa then came on line to relate the ‘calamity’.

    Children 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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