A few days ago, there was a student checking a book out. I noticed that he had a book about the U.S. Marines on his record that hadn’t been returned and it had been a few weeks, so I asked him about it.
“I turned that in!” he swore. “I know I did. Didn’t I?” he asked turning to his classmate behind him who just shrugged his shoulders.
We walked over to the military section, and looked for it to no avail.
I asked him to keep on looking for it, and promised that I would too.
” I turned it in. I’m sure I did,” he insisted.
“Just keep looking for it,” I replied.
“Mr. Martin, when you find it, I’m going to laugh so hard.”
Some of you may be wondering why I didn’t just check the book in since he was so insistent that he had turned it in, but you have to realize, I have this exact same conversation with many different students several times a week. The student is ALWAYS sure that he or she turned the book in, and later, sometimes even months later, the book shows up in their classroom, bedroom, or in a classmate’s desk. But 90% of the time, the book shows back up.
Well, when I had some free time, I decided to do a more thorough search for the book. The book could have been shelved without being checked in, and my high school shelvers don’t always put books back exactly where they go. Sure enough, after a few minutes of searching, I found the missing book wedged in between some books about the Titanic, about four shelves down from where it was supposed to be.
I had a dilemma to solve now. With any other kid, I would have just let them know that I found the book, and apologized for the mix up. That wasn’t going to work for me with this kid. He had already told me he was going to rub it in, and believe me, this kid definitely would have. He would have rubbed in in for week every time he saw me, in front of his classmates. Maybe I’m evil, but that just wasn’t going to work for me.
Instead, I recruited one of his classmates to slip the book back into his desk when he wasn’t looking. She was very excited about completing this “Super secret spy mission” which is how I described the task to her, and she was marvelous. About 45 minutes later, the boy slunk into the library with the Marines book.
“I found the book,” he mumbled.
“What was that?” I asked.
“I found the book” He replied.”It was in my desk.”
“Is that so?”
“Yeah. I thought I checked there. I guess I didn’t look good enough.”
The look on his face was priceless, like someone had force-fed him sour lemons. I couldn’t contain it any more. I erupted with laughter, and confessed everything.
Surprisingly, he wasn’t that concerned with rubbing my mistake in. He was more surprised that he had been tricked.
“You tricked me?!”
I grinned. “Yup.”
“I can’t believe it! Nobody tricks me!”
I heard him in the hallway on the way back to his classroom. “Mr. Martin tricked me!”
I smiled, glad that I had changed the narrative from a triumphant”I was right and Mr. Martin was wrong!” to a “Can you believe it? Mr. Martin tricked me!”