I have two short stories today. Both involving my time as a kid with stickers in school.
First story takes place back when I was in 2nd grade. Our library had both a pencil dispenser and a sticker machine. Both of which were super popular when I was a kid. As what usually happens with young kids in school, we used these pencils and stickers as a status symbol or a means of currency. Often, kids would beg their parents for extra lunch money or just spend what they had on these irresistible prizes.
One day, while my class was on a trip to the library, I spotted some new sticker designs displayed on the machine. I couldn’t believe it, our sticker machine was just restocked with the cutest Lisa Frank stickers I had ever seen. Tons of designs that weren’t too popular even back then. But the one I spotted and wanted most was this adorable toucan. It was so colorful and pretty, not to mention a design I’d never seen from her before. I knew that it had to be mine.
All I thought of for the rest of the day was that sticker. We already had lunch so I had no hopes of grabbing it then, but I knew what I had to do the following day. I woke up, quarters in hand, as I readied myself to grab that sticker. I was young, about seven, and it hadn’t occurred to me that I might not get the sticker I wanted so easily. I didn’t care, I needed it. I begged my teacher all day long, asking for permission to go to the library for my sticker. All she did was tell me no and that I could wait til next week. But didn’t she know? It’d be too late by then! I was seven, with two quarters in the 90s, do you know how hard it was to not spend quarters back then? I needed to find a way into that library.
Then it hit me. I switch my tactics up. I decided to ask my teacher instead if I could go to the restroom. She was wise to my antics, giving me permission but specifically made a point to mention no stickers. I heard her but I didn’t care. I walked my way to the bathroom, only to turn half way and make a dash for the library. When I walked in, no one was around to be seen. I made sure to be quick. I threw my quarters into the machine and prayed to the school gods that I’d get lucky. I pulled out the thin cardboard cover to reveal… No way. I got it. The toucan sticker was mine, first try!
I was over the moon when I made my way back to class. I couldn’t be any happier. But alas, my teacher must have noticed my beaming expression. For all she did when I went back to my seat was hold out her hand. She told me to give her the sticker because I had lied to her. I had no idea how she knew, I thought I was slick as hell. Yet though I was slick, I was also a class A goodie two shoes. I hung my head and handed over the sticker. I remember crying a little, and even worse, I never got it back at the end of the day. My teacher told me that I disobeyed her wishes and wouldn’t be rewarded for it. She told me I could get a new one later, but she didn’t understand how much I wanted that sticker. It still haunts me to this day.
The next story takes place two years later. The sticker machine had been moved to the cafeteria and was more popular than ever. Not only that, but there were amazing new stickers to be had. Pokémon and Digimon were in full swing and I was addicted. I wanted nothing more than to spend my loose change on some slick Pokémon card stickers. But you see, during this newest restock, another popular sticker brand found its way into the hands of many children. They were bland honestly. Just rectangle stickers with a simple gradient. On the sticker would be one word and a small symbol to match it. Things such as “Fire” followed by a small flame symbol or “Wind” with a small swirling gust.
Kids around the school started whispering. Saying that these stickers gave you special powers when you prayed to them.
“It works! I was mad at my mom yesterday, so I summoned the power of my fire sticker. She ended up burning her hand on the stove that night.”
“Oh yeah? Remember how hot it was yesterday? I summoned my water sticker and it ended up raining all day! That was me who did that.”
Clearly these stickers were only hiding power behind their lazy, graphical designs. I was intrigued, and my friends were there pressuring me. Do I really spend my only quarters on attempts at power? Or grab a sticker I knew I would love? Well you know what they say about peer pressure. I gave in, and bought one of the powerful, summoning stickers.
Let me tell you, I immediately regretted this decision. Ol’ Klotz didn’t get cool fire, lightning, ice, no no none of those. I got energy. My friends be over here harnessing the elements and I got energy. Something eight year olds had to spare. Needless to say I was a bit miffed, but I kept it all the same. Giving it a special place on the inside of my favorite Lisa Frank dragon folder. And though I hated it back then, I’d honestly lover to find that sticker again. Maybe it can give me some strength in these times.