This ought to be good, Amber thought as Spike walked to the front of the class to give his career report. As usual, he had used plenty of gel in his hair. But instead of a spike, it was twisted around in a style she had seen on members of some boy bands. She wondered if one of Spike’s sisters had done it for him. On his T-shirt was a quote from Neil Armstrong that read, “We come in peace for all mankind.”
Amber hated to admit it, but Spike actually did a good job on his career report. He talked about some of the earlier astronauts, like John Glenn who was the first man to orbit the earth and Neil Armstrong who walked on the moon. Then he told about the space shuttle and the International Space Station. Spike said that to be an astronaut, you have to be good at math and science. You have to go to college and also get training as a pilot. You have to work for NASA for five years to be considered for the astronaut program. Finally, he showed some of the things he got on a trip to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, including a pen that can write upside down and at zero gravity.
At the end of his report, he took a bow, which brought applause from his classmates. Spike continued to bow, and the class continued to applaud until Ms. McGuire said, “Thank you, Michael. You can sit down now.”
After school on Monday, the Happy Helpers headed for the senior center to see what jobs Mrs. Snow had assigned them for the coming week. This time, their names did appear on the list for Tuesday and Saturday. On Tuesday, they were assigned to shred papers, and on Saturday, their job would be sweeping the walkways. Mrs. Snow came out of her office when she heard them talking. “Hi, girls,” she said. “Are those work assignments all right?”
“They’re fine with us,” Amber answered for everyone.
“I was a little concerned about asking you to do something during the school week,” Mrs. Snow continued. “Are you sure your parents won’t mind?”
“We’ll be home in time to get our homework done,” Laura assured her. “We’re going to help Doris Duncan with her plants after school on Wednesday, so tomorrow is a perfect day to come and help out here.”
“Shredding sounds like fun,” Melissa said. “Do you have lots of papers that need shredding?”
“Actually, we do,” Mrs. Snow said. “Some of the businesses in town pay us to do their shredding. So you’ll be helping to raise money for the center.”
When the girls left Mrs. Snow’s office, they saw the Three Handy Guys checking the assignment list. Spike had his fingers on the Happy Helper flyer, but pulled them away quickly when he saw the girls.
“It looks like you’ll be working here two days this week,” Logan said. “We’re just working on Saturday.”
“We usually do the shredding.” Spike sounded upset.
Melissa glared at Spike, who looked away. “I guess Mrs. Snow knows quality when she sees it,” Melissa said.
“We’re mowing the lawns on Saturday,” Logan continued. “We usually start about eight o’clock, and we’re finished at about ten. You might as well wait until then to come and sweep the walkways.”
“Yeah,” Chris added. “There’s no sense sweeping them before we’ve finished mowing. We usually sweep them ourselves when we’re done.”
“Thanks for letting us know,” Laura said. “That way we won’t try to get here so early.”
“Yeah,” Spike added. “You can get some beauty sleep.” He glared back at Melissa.
Laura’s dad came to speak to the class on Tuesday. Amber was surprised that Laura hadn’t said anything about it. But when she looked at Laura, she realized that Laura was just as surprised as she was.
Mr. Thomas talked about the many career opportunities in banking. He said that some of the entry-level jobs didn’t require college, but having a degree in business or banking would be needed if you wanted to advance to a better job. When he was finished, Ms. McGuire asked if there were any questions.
“Do you own the bank, or do you just work there?” Melissa asked.
“I work for the bank,” Mr. Thomas responded. “I’m a personal banker. That means I help our customers with their financial needs. The bank is owned by a large corporation, not by one individual.”
“What do you do with the old, worn-out money?” Spike asked. “Do you ever give it away?”
“Very funny, Michael.” Ms. McGuire glared at Spike.
“No, that’s actually a good question,” Mr. Thomas said. “I’d like to answer it. The old worn-out money is collected by the banks and exchanged for new bills at the Federal Reserve Bank. Then the old money is shredded. If you visit a Federal Reserve Bank, for example the one in San Francisco, you can get a bag of shredded money as a souvenir. So in a way, Michael, it is given away. Which bills do you think wear out first?”
Several students raised their hands, but Mr. Thomas called on a boy name Steven.
“The one-dollar bill,” Steven said.
“That’s a good guess,” Mr. Thomas told him. “But that’s not it. Any other guesses?”
“The hundred-dollar bill,” a boy named Kenneth suggested.
“Not too many people carry those around with them.” Mr. Thomas smiled. “Actually, it’s the fives and tens. They are used the most and have to be replaced more often.”
Ms. McGuire thanked Mr. Thomas again. He touched Laura on the shoulder as he was leaving.
“Did you know your dad was coming here today?” Amber asked Laura at lunch.
“He never said a word. I was totally shocked.”
“He probably didn’t want you to get nervous,” Amber added. “That’s why he didn’t tell you.”
“He was really interesting,” Melissa said. “You’re lucky to have a rich dad.”
The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon