Andre tapped his foot and glanced at his watch. It read 11:01 a.m.
“It’s time for math,” he said quietly.
Tick, tock. The seconds ticked away as Andre nervously opened and closed his book. 11:02 a.m.
“Mrs. Medina,” he said, his voice growing louder as he grew more impatient. “It’s time for math!”
Didn’t his teacher know how important it was to stick to the routine? He was never late for school, or for dinner, or even for dentist appointments. It was 11:03, and he almost felt sick to his stomach. He raised his book, ready to slam it on the desk in protest.
“I’m sorry, Andre,” Mrs. Medina finally appeared next to him. “But I was helping some of your classmates finish their science assignment.”
She looked at her watch and smiled. “Besides, we still have plenty of time for today’s math lesson.”
“No, we don’t.” Andre shook his head, closed his book and slid it back inside his desk.
“Remember our talk about patience,” his teacher said calmly.
Andre nodded, but he was stewing inside. He looked at his watch: 11:05. He folded his arms and decided he was done for the day.
Mrs. Medina kneeled next to his desk. “Andre, remember how badly you wanted that job at the Taxi Warehouse?”
Andre straightened up in his seat. “Yes…”
“If you participate in today’s math lesson, that shows me you’re willing to cooperate even when things don’t go as planned. That’s the kind of thing Mr. King and the Taxi Warehouse manager are looking for. I could put in a good word for you at the Teacher’s Lounge….”
Andre thought for a moment. He looked at his watch again and frowned, but then took a few deep breaths and put his math book back on top of the desk.
“Okay,” he said. “You promise?”
Mrs. Medina nodded.
Later that day, she made good on her offer, telling the facilitator of Taxi Warehouse, Mr. King, about the progress Andre had been making in class and recommending him for the open position.
“Andre?” Mr. King tapped him on the shoulder as he sat in the corner of the cafeteria, quietly watching the hustle and bustle of the Micro Market from afar.
“Yep, that’s me,” he said in his usual, loud voice.
“Mrs. Medina told me you’re interested in joining Taxi Warehouse.”
Andre nodded emphatically.
“Why is that?”
“Well,” Andre paused for a moment. “I like helping. My mom says I’m helpful all the time. I want to help the little kids find things and get where they’re going.”
“I see,” Mr. King said. “And you’re sure you’re up for that kind of job? It can get a bit noisy at market and sometimes things run behind schedule.”
Andre took a few deep breaths before responding. “Things run behind schedule? I might be able to help with that.”
Mr. King stood up. “Well, I certainly like your ambition! Welcome aboard, Andre. We’re excited to have you.”
Andre couldn’t believe it. He ran to Mrs. Medina to tell her the good news. “I start tomorrow. Can you believe it?”
“I know you’re going to do well,” she said with a smile. “Just remember our talk about patience.”
The next day, Andre showed up for work exactly on time – not a second sooner, not a second later.
“I’m ready to help,” he said.
His manager, Lea was happy to see him. “Great! Ryder is sick today so we really need you. Do you think you’re ready to get out there? Do you know where everything is?”
“I made a map,” Andre said, holding up a piece of paper with a sketch of the entire marketplace.
“Wow…” Lea said, turning to Mr. King. “This kid is on time. And he’s prepared. I like him!”
She continued talking very quickly. Andre’s head was spinning, but he kept his cool. “OK, Ben here is going out on a few jobs and he’s going to show you how it’s done. Then after that we’ll give you a wagon and – “
Mr. King cut her off. “Is he ready for a wagon?”
“Yes!” Andre said loudly. “It’s my time to shine,” he said, repeating something he’d heard his mother say.
“OK Andre,” Mr. King laughed. “Show us what you’ve got.”
Andre was determined to shine, just like he’d promised. While he shadowed Ben, he took notes about what kinds of questions the passengers (usually kindergartners) asked and the most popular pickup and drop-off spots.
When he grabbed the handle of his very own wagon for the first time, he was nervous, but excited.
“I’m Andre, your taxi driver,” he said, shaking hands with his first passenger, a five-year-old who needed a ride to the movie theater. “Anything you need, you can ask me.”
“Andre? Do you know how much the movie costs?”
Andre looked at his map and notes. “Actually, I do. It’s 4 Micros. Do you need help counting that out?”
The boy nodded.
They arrived at the movie theater just as the movie was about to start.
“Oh no, we’re late!” Andre said, starting to tense up. He looked over at the boy, who was holding a handful of Micro dollars and looking rather confused.
Andre took a deep breath. “But there’s still time to count this,” he said. “1… 2…. 3…. 4. There you
go, just hand that to the cashier over there and you’ll be good to go.”
“Thank you!” The boy jumped out of the wagon and hugged Andre, which caught him off guard. Mrs. Medina noticed from across the room and gave him a thumbs up.
“Any time.” Andre said with a smile. “There’s always time to help.”