A Scout is Courteous. A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of age or position. He knows that using good manners makes it easier for people to get along.
Tad was pacing the floor nearest the front door. Today was THE day. “Mo-o-om, pah-leeze, can we go NOW? The card said 9 a.m. SHARP. That’s barely 20 minutes from now.” Tad voice rose as he talked.
“Okay, okay, I’m coming.” Mom came out of the bedroom at a snail’s pace.
Tad had been on a waiting list for the new release of the Ranger Battalion video game. After months of waiting, the day had finally arrived. This purchase was going to wipe out his bankroll, but it was SOOOO going to be worth it. His first MMO – and he already had his dad’s permission to play against players on line. In just a few short hours, he could be mounting an attack against someone from half-way around the world!
As they drove to Game Alley, Tad talked over his first battle strategy plan with AJ. “I won’t have a full range of weapons right away. I’ll have to spend some of my credits for new weapons as I win a few rounds.” It was supposed to have a whole range of new weapons, all new graphics, and 50 levels of difficulty.
As they rounded the corner to Game Alley, Tad’s mom said with dismay, “All of this for a video game?”
“Mom, I tried to tell you. I would have camped out if you would have listened.” Tad was distressed to see a big sign “RANGER BATTALION NEW RELEASE – LINE FORMS HERE” and a line that disappeared around the side of the building.
Tad raced ahead to find the end of the line, and stood clutching his post card and his wallet. He would wait clear into next week if he had to. He would be saving the planet from the forces of evil launched by some dude in Algeria or New Jersey or somewhere else Tad had never been. Tad mentally pictured waging war against some of those faces in line ahead of him. They’d never know what hit ‘em!
“It looks like you’re going to be a while, so I’m going to grab a few groceries. I see Mrs. Johnson with Kyle just ahead of us there. I’ll ask her to keep an eye on you while you wait.”
“Mom, I don’t need a babysitter. Go get your groceries and I’ll get my game. I’ll meet you at the car.” Being trusted to wait in line by himself was a very big step.
“Okay, I’ll hurry. I sure hope this is worth all this trouble ……….,” his mom continued muttering, shaking her head again at the line. She stopped by to talk to Mrs. Johnson and he heard her say, “Thanks, Amy. I won’t be a minute.”
The entire time Tad waited, he tried to block out the guy behind him. This guy was openly challenging everyone to include him in their MMO clan – user name The Assassin — or prepare to be squashed like a bug. As if!
With only three people left in front of Tad, he heard a noise behind him. Everyone turned toward the commotion; there was a boy about Tad’s age trying to get his wheelchair through the door. No one – BUT NO ONE – moved. No one was willing to risk their place in line.
Finally, Tad decided he better help the guy out. He stepped out of line, walked over to the door, and said, “Here, let me hold this open so you can get through.”
“Thanks a heap. I’ve been stuck here for forever, and no one would give me a break,” the guy said. Some of the folks in line looked away, embarrassed.
“Well, I’m up next, so here you go.” Tad hurried back to his place in line.
“Hey, there, little dude. Just what do you think you’re doing, cutting in?” Loud Guy refused to let him back in.
“Come on, man, I just went over to help that guy get in the door. You saw me. Just let me have my place back, please?” Tad tried to keep the panic out of his voice.
“No way, bud. Move your feet, lose your seat,” Loud Guy said with a grin.
“Didn’t you see me holding the door open for that guy?” Tad’s throat was clogging like when you know you’re going to cry.
“I don’t care if you were developing a cure for cancer. You got out of line, so it’s your loss,” Loud Guy insisted.
People behind them staring. Tad heard someone say, “Hey, what’s the holdup? Why aren’t we moving?”
When the cashier called, “Next,” Loud Guy shoved Tad aside, and stepped up to the counter. As Tad darted around him, his arm accidentally caught the edge of a display and knocked a whole box of games onto the floor. By the time he got mess picked up, the clerk announced, “Sorry, folks, we’re sold out.” Oh, no! How was it possible that Loud Guy got the game and Tad got zilch trying to do something nice? Tad walked slowly back toward their car where Mom was waiting.
“Well, are you ready to save the planet from evil?” his mom asked with a smile.
“Nah, I changed my mind; too much money. I decided to save up for the next release; it’s going to have better graphics,” Tad said. He didn’t want Mom asking any more questions, because he absolutely refused to cry.
As the family ate dinner, Mom and Dad talked as though nothing unusual had happened. Tad pushed green beans around his plate, pretending he was wiping out legions of Keleron bad guys with his fork. He still had that big knot in his throat, so eating supper was just not happening. Finally, he asked if he could be excused.
While Tad was getting ready for bed, he heard the phone ring. He was just about to crawl up on the top bunk when Dad called him. Like this day wasn’t bad enough, now he was probably in trouble. “Coming, Dad.” Tad walked into the den.
“Come sit down over here, son,” Dad said, “and tell me what happened today at the video store.”
Whoa, what? Tad looked surprised. He hadn’t told anyone about the video store, not even Conner. “Nothing bad, Dad, honest. I was gunna to buy the new Keleron, but changed my mind. It woudda wiped out all my allowance money,” Tad tried to keep his eyes fixed on the family picture behind Dad’s head.
“That’s not exactly the way I heard it,” Dad said quietly. When Dad was not yelling or anything, it was just spooky.
“I didn’t do anything wrong, I swear, Dad. I got out of line to hold the door open, and tried to get back in, but this loud guy wouldn’t give my spot back. He shoved me, and I accidentally knocked a whole bunch of games onto the floor. I picked them all up, honest, Dad, and the clerk said they weren’t even hardly messed up. But by then, they were sold out. I just got out of line for a second, but that guy . . . “ Before he could say anything else, he burst into tears. Dad put his arms around Tad and waited until he finished crying.
“Son, you’re not in trouble. The store manager called. Seems a number of people saw you get out of line and hold the door. They also saw the man shove you. Quite a few called the store to complain. Now do you want to tell me what happened?”
So Tad hiccuped his way through the entire story, while Dad listened. Then Dad said with a smile, “It took a while for the manager to track you down. While the store is out of Keleron VII, they just happen to have an advance copy of Keleron VIII for beta testing. You’d be the first guy in town to try it . . . if you’re interested.”
“Keleron VIII’s not due out for months . . . when . . . how . . . Dad, are you sure? Man, am I ever interested! Can I call Conner? And Rusty, and Wyatt? This is big; no, it’s ginormous!” Tad felt light-headed from the rush.
“Son, I’m really proud of you. You did the right thing, expecting nothing in return. Now let’s go talk to Mom about a marathon game night this weekend. You’ve earned it! Guess I better call Old Henry’s and order plenty of liver and onion platters.” As always, Dad could be counted on for his corny jokes. Also as expected, Tad pretended to put his fingers down his throat and gag.
The guys were going to freak when Tad called them . . .