*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.
When I was in elementary school, my entire class took a field trip to an apple orchard. I hated field trips.
This field trip was special because my mother had agreed to be one of the chaperones, and the teacher told us we could eat as many apples as we wanted. I hated apples.
My mother bought me a special bag to collect my apples. It was a green plastic mesh sack with a rectangular metal handle. I kept that bag for many years until the plastic mesh crumbled from age and the metal handle succumbed to rust. I loved that mesh bag.
I wouldn't end up with apples in my bag that day, which was fine by me.
Anyone who actually expected to go "apple picking" on that day was disappointed. A woman at the apple orchard instructed the children to eat only the apples that had fallen on the ground. "Good fruit costs extra," she said.
We weren't permitted to reach up and pluck the plump, juicy apples off the trees. However, if we wanted the bruised, rotting, worm-riddled apples that had fallen from the trees onto the dirt, we were welcome to them as long as we finished the apples on site. There would be no free apples to take home, not even worm-riddled ones.
The "good fruit" was off limits unless we paid for them by the pound. Since a bus of elementary school kids didn't exactly have a lot of disposable cash on them, we left empty-handed. That was fine by me.
I was one of the few kids who could have brought home good apples since my mother and her purse were on the field trip with us, but my mother knew how I felt about apples. She didn't bother to offer.
To this day, I'm not really sure why she bought me the green mesh bag. She was probably just following instructions from the field trip permission slip.
Whatever her reasons, I'm still glad she did. That bag was a reminder of the day I learned that good fruit cost extra. That's a lesson I never forgot. And neither did my mesh bag. Years later, it still held onto its shape despite being battered by time and the elements. It became an old friend of mine, despite never serving its intended purpose: carrying apples.
I still hate apples.
Were any of my classmates disappointed in the situation? I have no idea. Somehow I doubt it. Apples just aren't that important to children under the age of ten.
If we had been touring a candy bar factory under the same circumstances, I'm sure the reactions would have been very different.
How do you feel about offering elementary school kids bruised and damaged apples that had fallen on the ground? Would you let your children eat second-rate apples? Did you have field trips like this as a kid? Do tell. Comments are welcome.
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