|He had them at “cool”. When Nicolas, a 10th grade entrepreneur whispered, “¡Que chévere!” (how cool) it would be to sneak him some dinero from the bank vault, the trio of 3rd grade citizens from Colombia’s Colegio San Juan Camino readily agreed. Nicolas was an upper school student, after all. They certainly weren’t going to miss out on the opportunity to be his amigos. And rumor had it that he was planning on running for MicroSociety president next year. If he was on their side…things in the lower school could really change. Maybe he’d give them even more power…even more voice.
“So, here’s what we are going to do,” Nicolas shared, his dark eyes making contact with Lucia, a petite pistol with long dark lashes framing her wide-open eyes. “I am going to come into the bank and ask to speak to the manager about getting a loan.” Lucia nodded, her front tooth digging a groove in her lower lip. “While, I’m doing this, you and Luis are going distract the teller by asking lots of questions about opening savings accounts. Pretend like you know nothing about them, if you know what I mean. With everyone busy, Ignacio can easily sneak a stack of Micros, which he will slip to me as I walk out the door. Any questions?” Nicolas stood smugly with one hand in his pocket.
“What if another customer sees this happening and tells?” Ignacio questioned. His palms moist with doubt.
“Don’t be silly. No one is going to tell on me,” he quickly replied. This seemed to satisfy Ignacio. Yeah, no one would snitch on a big kid. No one except for a security guard. Miguel Angel, a 5th grader, who was hired by the bank to stand guard and protect against such crimes as this premeditated one, witnessed the whole transaction.
“¡Basta! (Stop!)” he declared as Nicolas tried to exit el banco. “I am going to need to issue you a warrant to appear in Court. I saw what you did.” His pen continued its path across the paper as he set a court date for the 3rd graders as well. “You played an equal part in this crime,” he said unwavering, as he handed them their slips. Lucia batted away tears. But could find no words. None of them, Nicolas included, could. Miguel Angel put out his hand for the stolen money. Nicolas complied, placing the crisp Micros in his open palm.
Prior to their date, the Court appointed lawyers for each party. Marcela and Julian had their work cut out for them. In a Colombian court, the presumption was “guilty until proven innocent”. There was no innocence to be proven here. “Your only real option is to convince the prosecutor that the 3rd graders didn’t know any better,” advised Carolina Sanchez, a parent who just happened to also be a lawyer, during their Skype consultation. When Marcela suggested this to her clients, she was met with horizontal head shakes. “But we did,” said Luis solemnly.
So they did what they had to do. Pled guilty. And the 8th grade prosecutor, Mateo, found them culpable. The sentence? Muchas horas of community service for all involved. As for Ignacio and Nicolas, caught Micro-handed, an additional fine of $150 Micros was tacked on. The amount they attempted to swipe. “So you can really feel what it takes to earn that amount. Maybe you’ll think twice next time,” Mateo declared.
Think twice? The group wouldn’t even consider repeating their offense. They learned a tough lesson. Especially Nicolas. Campaigning with a criminal record was not cool. No guay en absouto (Not cool at all).