Just the Other Day: Identity Theft

I wrote a note, folded it neatly, then wrote a name on the front of the paper. I handed it to the girl at the desk in front of me, who handed it to the boy in front of her, who handed it to the girl sitting at the desk in the row across from him, who handed it to the boy across from her, who handed it to Megan.


Megan opened and read the note. “Will you be my girlfriend? Circle one – Yes or No – and send this back to me.” I signed the note, Barry.


Megan opened the note, read it, smiled, then circled an answer with her #2 yellow pencil. She wrote something else on the paper, then folded it and handed it back to the boy who had handed her the note. It was on its way back to me. Each person passing it on to the one who gave it to them.


Not knowing the true source of the note, Megan kept smiling at Barry. Poor Barry looked confused as he had no idea why she kept staring at him. Although my tactics were deceitful, I would now find out if she had a crush on him as I had suspected since first grade.


The girl in front of me handed the note over her shoulder. I was giggling in anticipation of reading Megan’s answer? Completely focused on getting the note back, I wasn’t paying attention to the teacher at all.


Just as I was unfolding the note, Mrs. Bear, my second-grade teacher at Horace Mann Elementary School, walked the aisles between our desks.  Briskly snatching the note from my hand she opened and glanced at it, then glared at me.  I was worried she would read the note aloud to the class. Barry was my friend. He was not going to appreciate me sending that note with his name on it.


Mrs. Bear, walked back to her big oak desk at the front of the room, placing the note in her top center drawer, then continued on with her lesson. I sighed with relief – I was off the hook.


The bell rang, echoing down the cold, empty hallways with their grey terrazzo floors.  All the kids in the class room, jumped up from their desks, forming a single file line to make way outside for recess, myself included. As the children moved single file, in an orderly fashion toward the door Mrs. Bear took me by the arm, pulling me from the line.


The other kids marched on with restraint in their step. Once they cleared the entrance doors they would run out to the playground. As I watched them disappear to a happy place, Mrs. Bear began her lecture. “Tommy, you know it against the rules to pass notes in class, and it is not nice nor honest to sign someone else’s name to the note. I’m going to have to tell your parents about this at the parent, teacher conferences.” I was scared nearly to death.


By the time conferences came along, Mrs. Bear forgot about the note. Instead she discussed my day-dreaming during class, with my Mom.  While they spoke, I drifted off thinking about the note. In a way, I was hoping she would show it to Mom; maybe I would finally get to read Megan’s answer. I never did find out if Megan had a crush on my friend, Barry. I would never know what the additional message was that she wrote on that note.


That my friends, is an example of identity theft in its original form.