Monday, August 5, 2013

How a Batman Lunchbox Taught Me to Stand Up for Myself

The actual lunchbox featured in this story

Back in my high school days, tin lunchboxes were all the rage. I wanted to join the latest fad as a respectable high schooler, but it look me awhile to find just the right lunchbox. I didn't want to be like everyone as I joined the crowd, after all.

One evening my family went to this amazing candy store in Houston called Candylicious. There I found the perfect lunchbox featuring my favorite superhero, Batman. I immediately took it to my dad for purchasing, but he balked at the price tag. I didn't want to leave my lunchbox for fear it would disappear, but I didn't have the money to buy it, so there really wasn't a choice.

After leaving the store, I worked out a deal with my dad to do some chores to earn the money for the lunchbox. Of course it took me many chores to meet my goal, but I thought it was worth it. I couldn't wait to bring my prize to school! At last, after a couple of weeks, I had the money Then I had to pester my dad to take us back to Candylicious (haha). When we finally did go back, I felt immense satisfaction purchasing the lunchbox because I had worked so hard to earn it. When I took Batman home with me and packed my lunch for the next day, I was only slightly disappointed to see how little I could fit...but no matter! The lunchbox looked awesome, and that's all that matters in high school, right? I proudly wrote my name in the lid with permanent marker. Batman was mine!

The next day at lunch, I was the envy of the cafeteria. No one else had a lunchbox like mine, which I loved of course. But alas, I would not inspire envy for long. One afternoon, I left my lunchbox in my English class. I wasn't too worried, I just thought I would pick it up the next day. When I got to school in the morning, I immediately went to my English class, but the lunchbox was no where to be found. I even asked my teacher, and she did not remember seeing it.

Concerned now, I went to all of the other places I could have left it: the theatre room, my locker, etc. I even checked the lost and found, but Batman had completely disappeared. I was devastated. I had to bring my lunch in a paper bag the next day! Paper bags are not as impressive as Batman, by the way, but they DO hold more food.

A few days later, to my complete and utter shock, a girl from my theatre class came to school with a Batman lunchbox JUST LIKE MINE. I couldn't believe she had found another lunchbox just like mine. I even crept behind her in the hallway just to get a look. What I found surprised me even further. I don't know if you can tell from the picture above, but some of the paint on Batman's forearm had scraped off on my lunchbox. This girl's lunchbox had the same defect. Very suspicious...

The more I thought about it, the more suspicious I became. Candylicious only had one of these particular lunchboxes when I purchased mine, so unless they received more and this girl happened to buy hers there, she had my lunchbox. I am normally not a fan of confrontation, so I considered just letting her keep it. I mean if she wanted it that bad...but then I remembered how hard I had worked and how much I loved that stupid lunchbox. It made me angry to think she had stolen it from me!

I had no experience with confrontation, so I had a hard time deciding what to do at this point. Finally, I just decided to approach her in the hallway to see if she would give back the lunchbox before I had to escalate the situation. On my first approach, I asked her where she got it, and she had some lame story about finding several tin lunchboxes in her garage. Well she never carried any other lunchbox, so I knew she was lying. Her discomfort with my question let me know I was probably right about her thievery.

The next time, I used my ace. I told her how I used to have a lunchbox just like hers, with the paint missing in the same place and everything. It seemed highly unlikely she would have the same one. How funny! I mean, my lunchbox just happened to disappear at school about a week ago. What a coincidence she would have a similar lunchbox so soon after mine disappeared! Finally, my cloaked accusations convinced her I would not give up until she returned my property. She said, "oh well I have a lot of these at home, so you can have this one".

I thanked her for the "generosity" and happily took my lunchbox back. Before I walked away, she said, "oh I wrote my name on the lid, but you can remove it with nail polish remover." Wow, what a tip. I guess that's how she removed my name!

When I opened the lid, sure enough, my name was gone and her name was there. She had also put a band sticker from The Fray on the lid, which made me mad. She defaced my lunchbox!!! I have never been able to fully enjoy The Fray since.When I got home and put my lunchbox on the kitchen counter, my mom was stunned. She asked me where I had found it, and I told her the whole story. Even my mom couldn't believe I had taken the initiative and confronted this girl.

Later, a friend in my theatre class told me the girl's boyfriend found my lunchbox and gave it to her as a present. I hope she wasn't too impressed to get stolen property as a gift! I never associated with that girl again, by the way. And she definitely steered clear of me.

Today, Batman sits in my office at work as a reminder to not let people use me as a doormat. There is a difference between being gracious and being weak. I will not let people take advantage of me thanks to the lesson I learned from a tin lunchbox. I call that money well spent!