A rich man whose son bullies another boy for being poor teaches him a life lesson by taking away all his privileges.
Henry Stuart was a proud man, but the thing he was most proud of in a life filled with so many achievements was his seventeen-year-old son, James. Sadly, James' mother had passed away when he was just a little boy, so Henry had raised his son alone.
He was sure that he had raised a boy his beloved loved wife would have been proud of. Henry often boasted that his son was a brilliant student, an outstanding athlete, and a gentle soul. Henry was about to have a rude awakening...
A radical lifestyle change | Source: Unplash & Shutterstock
Henry, a highly successful criminal lawyer was in a meeting with his associates when he received an unexpected phone call. The phone in the conference room rang and Henry frowned.
He answered the phone and said crisply: "Wendy, I asked not to be disturbed..."
"I'm so sorry, Sir, but you said anything to do with James is a priority, It's his headmaster."
"Put him though, Wendy, thank you."
A calm voice was on the line. "Mr. Stuart? It's David Fields, Jame's headmaster at the Gables Academy."
A father's decision Source: Pexels
Henry greeted the man "Hello Mr. Fields, how are you. Is everything alright with James?"
"Healthwise, James is just fine, Mr. Stuart, I don't want to alarm you. Unfortunately, his behavior leaves a lot to be desired."
Henry smiled indulgently. "Has he been involved in some pranks?"
Mr. Fields' voice was far from indulgent. "I'm afraid not, Mr. Stuart. I'd like to discuss it with you in person..."
"Look, Mr. Fields, I'm a busy man, so just tell me what's going on!"
A talk with dad | Source: Pexels
"Very well, Mr. Stuart. I'm afraid that James has been the ringleader in a bullying incident focused on one of our scholarship students, Paul Jenkins. James is a popular young man, and uses his influence to make the boy's life a misery."
"Surely..." Henry paused. "Could you be more specific, Mr. Fields?"
"In the latest incident, James and his cronies threw the boy into the garbage bin. I have security footage if you wish to see it. When I questioned him, James laughed and said the boy's clothes belonged in the trash, so he was just giving him a hand."
"I see," said Henry, his heart sinking.
Henry wanted the best for his son, but he ended up giving James too much.
Giving up his car | Source: Unsplash
"Mr. Stuart, James showed no remorse and no empathy for this boy. I honestly think James needs help. He is suspended for three days, and if there is a repetition of this behavior, I will expel him."
Henry said quietly: "Mr. Fields, you can rest assured I will make sure there is no repetition. I will answer for it."
Henry set the phone down with a heavy heart. His son, his pride and joy was a bully. The boy whom he had showered with love, attention, and everything he could possibly need was harassing a vulnerable young man.
"I failed you, Hannah," he whispered to his dead wife's photo, "And I failed our boy." Henry canceled his afternoon meetings and went home early so he could be there when James arrived from school.
He watched as James drove his sleek sports car into the driveway his iPhone in hand, chatting away as a parked, and sauntered up to the door. James was a handsome boy, Henry thought, with his mother's fine features and striking eyes.
Losing his phone | Source: Unsplash
The young man was wearing a $600 Nike jacket, $150 sneakers, and stone-washed Levis. "It's my fault," Henry said to himself, "But I'm going to make it right."
James walked into the lounge and was startled when he saw his father. "Dad!" he cried, "Hey! You're home early!"
"And you're home late, considering you were suspended this morning."
James laughed. "Look, it was just a prank, dad. Fields is an old woman, and he's..."
"Mr. Fields," said Henry coldly, "Explained your 'prank' to me, he even offered to show me the security tape."
His new car | Source: Unsplash
James started to look uneasy. "Come on, dad...Listen, you should have seen this kid! He doesn't belong at the Academy! His sneakers are taped together! Can you believe it?"
Henry looked at his son in disbelief. "You targeted this boy because his shoes are falling apart?"
"Well, not only!" James said with a grin, "You should see his clothes, dad. It's a disgrace, he looks like a scarecrow! He lives in some trailer park with his mother, and don't get me started on HER!"
Henry looked at his son sadly. "I see, yes, I see. Listen carefully, James. There are going to be some changes in your life. To start with, please hand over your phone and your car keys."
"But dad..." James protested.
His new clothes | Source: Pexels
"Next, you are going upstairs and fetching your laptop. You can work on mine when you need to, but only for school."
James complied with ill grace, but a few more surprises were in store for him. When he opened his cupboard to put away his backpack, he saw that all his clothes were gone.
He ran downstairs. "Dad, where are my threads? What's going on?"
Henry said: "I think you need some new clothes, James. There's a box in my study, so please feel free to choose whatever you want."
To his horror, James saw that the 'clothes' his father had acquired for him were Salvation Army cast-offs, not much better than the ones the poor boy he bullied wore.
Old sneakers | Source: Unsplash
"DAD!" screamed James, "I can't wear this! And the shoes!"
"Those are perfectly serviceable and clean clothes, James, and those shoes have no holes and no tape, and that is what you will wear until I decide otherwise."
Worse was to come. James came down the next day to find his beloved sports car gone, and in its place was an ancient rusty pickup that had obviously been used to transport refuse.
"My car," James screamed, "Where is my car!"
"Your car? It's right there. The other car is mine. I paid for it. If you want to drive, use the pickup, otherwise take the bus. And James, by the way, your credit card is canceled."
Mocked by old friends | Source: Pexels
Three days later James dragged himself into the school in his 'new' second-hand clothes and worn sneakers, carrying an old backpack. His friends gaped at him. "Man, what's happened to you?"
James was furious. "My father! That old woman Fields talked to him, so this is my 'punishment'"
"Damn," cried James' best friend, Matt, "Man, you look like...Jeez...Stay away from me!"
The others started laughing. "Yeh, James, take a shower or something!"
Humiliated, James turned away. The next two weeks were progressively worse. James found himself eating alone at lunchtime, and since he no longer had a cell phone, or a computer he was cut off from everything and everyone.
A new friend | Source: Pexels
One afternoon, he was walking out when he hear derisive hoots and saw his friends pointing at his battered old pickup. James flushed with shame. He climbed in and was driving off when he saw the poor boy walking along the side of the road.
James hesitated, then he stopped next to him. "Hey...Want a ride?"
The boy looked up at him and shook his head. "Why? Do you want to have another go at me?"
"No! Listen, man, I'm sorry...Look, get in, and I'll drive you home."
The boy got into the disreputable pickup. "This isn't so bad, you know. You could fix this up. It's a classic."
Fixing up the old car | Source: Unsplash
James laughed bitterly. "Right...A classic!"
"I'm serious. It's a 1951 Chevy. My dad was a mechanic, so I know a bit about cars. I could help you."
"Listen, Paul... Yeah...Maybe...My dad says I have to drive this for the rest of the year..."
James stopped the pickup in front of Paul's modest home. "Here you are."
"Why don't you come in? I have some mags about restoring cars like yours."
James was surprised to hear himself agreeing, and even more surprised to realize that he liked Paul. He was funny and knowledgeable, and off-the-charts bright -- after all, he had a scholarship at the Academy...
The old truck restored | Source: Unsplash
James and Paul became good friends, then best friends, and by Spring his disreputable old pickup was in mint condition, a showpiece. Paul started inviting Paul home and Henry became fond of the boy.
He was especially impressed by the influence Paul had on his son. James had always been a good student, but now he was excelling. He was now modest, kind, and considerate.
Henry called James and handed him his iPhone and his car keys. "Son, you've learned your lesson, I think. You can have your phone, and your car back. Your clothes and your computer are back in your room..."
James looked down at the phone and the car keys in his hand. "Thanks, dad," he said quietly. "But...I'd like to hang on to the pickup if you don't mind. It suits me."
Henry smiled. "I'm proud of you, son."
Proud of his son | Source: Pexels
James shook his head. "No, I've made a lot of mistakes, dad. Big ones, but you showed me how to be a better person."
James had his phone and his expensive threads back, but he refused to give up some of the comfortable worn clothes he's grown to love -- or his new best friend, Paul.
His old friends quickly gravitated around him again, but James wasn't interested. He now realized that the other boys were shallow, and blind to reality just as he had been before his dad and Paul gave him a glimpse at real life.
What can we learn from this story?
1. Indulgence can spoil a child. Henry wanted the best for his son, but he ended up giving James too much. James had no idea of how most people struggle to make a living.
2. Wealth is not worth. James found out the hard way that people shouldn't be judged for what they have, but for what they are.
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Any resemblance in this story to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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