AKA the Most Expensive Pie No One Ever Ate
“It was my wife’s birthday last weekend,” Mr. Agawa said as kids filed into the classroom. He was chatting with the high-performing students who had already arrived and were claiming the front-row seats. “She likes French food. So I took her to a French restaurant — Jacque-in-the-Box.”
“Mr. Agawa, that’s not a French restaurant. You just changed the pronunciation of Jack-in-the-Box,” Mercy said. “I hope you didn’t actually bring your wife there to celebrate her birthday.”
“Who said anything about celebrating her birthday?” Mr. Agawa said. “I just took her there because I was tired of eating burnt toast — which is the only thing she knows how to make.”
“That’s not a very nice thing to say about your wife,” Jenny protested. “Especially on her birthday.”
“Why not? It’s true. It’s true about me, too,” Mr. Agawa said. “Besides, I didn’t say that on her birthday. Her birthday was last weekend.”
“If you both can’t cook, then what do you do for dinner on most days?” Scott inquired.
“On most days? Well, we go out.” Mr. Agawa replied. “If we want American food, we go to Jack-in-the-Box. When we want French, we go to Jacque-in-the-Box. When we want Chinese, we go to Jiang-in-the-Box.”
“That’s all the same thing!” Mercy protested.
“And it’s not healthy to eat out every day!” Jenny added.
“Probably not. But it tastes good,” Mr. Agawa offered as the bell rang and the last students scrambled to their seats.
Mr. Agawa cleared his throat.
“Before we get started today, I have a quick announcement to make. As you all know, we have a wonderful club on campus known as the Fund Hope Club. They are currently raising money for their parent organization, which sponsors various children with life-threatening diseases.
“The Vineyard High Fund Hope Club asked myself and Mr. Joseph to support their cause, and so we are doing a pie contest.”
Scott stuck his hand in the air. “Mr. Agawa, what is a pie contest?”
“It is a contest in which the loser gets pied in the face by the winner,” Mr. Agawa said. “And, in this case, the winner and loser are the ones who raise the most and the least money for the Fund Hope Foundation, respectively.”
Scott stuck his other hand in the air. “What kind of pie? Pumpkin? Peach? Cream?”
“I don’t know,” Mr. Agawa said. “That’s up to the students in charge. Whichever kind of pie it is, I just hope Mr. Joseph isn’t allergic to it, because he is going down.”
Mr. Agawa made an exaggerated motion with his thumb, and the class laughed and hooted.
“Now,” Mr. Agawa said, once everyone calmed down, “As a teacher I am legally obliged not to ask students for donations during class. But Mr. Joseph and I will be allowed to solicit donations during non-instruction hours, so you’ll probably see us around in the next few days.
“And while I am sadly also not allowed to threaten bodily harm to students if they don’t donate to me…” he paused and squinted, looking from one end of the classroom to the other: “I will kill you if you donate anything to Mr. Joseph.”
He turned, and started to wipe down the whiteboard.
Scott waved both his arms in the air, never mind that Mr. Agawa couldn’t see him. “Isn’t killing considered bodily harm, Mr. Agawa?” he asked.
“Not if there’s no body to find,” Mr. Agawa returned evenly, still wiping the board.
“That’s not exactly the way it works…” Lacey started to say. But she was interrupted by another enthusiastic student.
“Don’t worry Mr. Agawa!” Joey piped up from the back of the room. “We’ll help you win!”
“You better,” Mr. Agawa said. “Because if I get pied, I will be a Very Unhappy Chemistry Teacher. And none of you want to have a Very Unhappy Chemistry Teacher, do you?” he asked sweetly as he turned to look at the class.
“No, Mr. Agawa,” everyone chorused obediently.
“That’s what I thought.” Mr. Agawa turned, put the eraser down and clapped his hands. “Alrighty, folks. Now on to everyone’s favorite subject: How are we doing on the memorization of solubility rules?”
The next day during lunch, Mr. Joseph sat next to the cafeteria exit with a large cash box on his lap and a giant sign to his right. It read: “Support Mr. Joseph and the Fund Hope Foundation! Donate here!”
As students emerged from the cafeteria, carrying their trays of food, Mr. Joseph called out to them: “Any spare change? Toss it in the box! Change a life through your very own Vineyard High Fund Hope Foundation!”
A few students walked over and dropped coins into Mr. Joseph’s box.
“Thank you, thank you very much,” he said, grinning at each student as they walked by.
Just then, Mr. Agawa appeared on the quad, pedaling a tricycle.
A length of rope was wrapped around his head and attached to a bucket which bounced against his back as he triked through the quad.
Students stared, slack-jawed, as if seeing a ghostly apparition.
“Donate to the Fund Hope Foundation!” Mr. Agawa called, pedaling furiously, his too-long legs flapping sideways to accommodate the tricycle’s tiny size. “Put your spare change in this bucket! Don’t be a fool and donate to Mr. Joseph!”
“Hey!” Mr. Joseph said, standing in indignation. “What do you think you’re doing?”
Mr. Agawa spotted Mr. Joseph and slowed his pedaling.
“Ignore that toddler wannabe,” Mr. Joseph said. “Donate to the teacher who is seriously going to raise more money for the Fund Hope Foundation than anyone else in the history of Vineyard High!”
Mr. Agawa put his hands on his hips: “Don’t listen to Mr. Joseph, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
“Why should they listen to you?” Mr. Joseph shot back. “You’re riding a tricycle!”
“Well, you’re going to use the money to buy hammers to hit little bunnies on the head!”
From across the quad, Joey piped up: “Yeah, think of the bunnies!”
“That’s ridiculous,” Mr. Joseph replied. “Why would I do such a thing?”
Several kids got up and put money in Mr. Agawa’s bucket.
“Hey!” Mr. Joseph said. “Didn’t you all just hear what I said?”
“Haha!” Mr. Agawa crowed as more and more students lined up to put money in his bucket. “Take that, Bill Joseph! Tricyclists beat bunny boppers all the time.”
“This is so not fair,” Mr. Joseph replied, shaking his head.
Right before lunch ended, and as soon as Mr. Agawa biked — er, triked — away, Scott dashed up to Mr. Joseph, opened his wallet and dumped the entire contents into Mr. Joseph’s box.
“Hey, what are you doing?” Joey demanded.
“Shh!” Scott turned to him, and put his finger in front of his mouth. “You are not allowed to tell anyone about this, especially Mr. Agawa.”
Then he turned to see which students were paying attention. “No one else can tell either.”
“But Mr. Agawa said — ”
“I know what he said. But I want to see what happens if Mr. A gets pied, don’t you?” Scott said, a mischievous look on his face.
“That’s the spirit!” Mr. Joseph said, giving Scott a high-five. “I like you, young man.”
Every single day for the rest of the week, Mr. Joseph and Mr. Agawa made their appearances in various areas of the quadrangle courtyard (aka quad) during lunch and before and after school, soliciting donations.
Mr. Agawa continued to ride his tricycle, to which he’d attached a loud bicycle bell — so everyone could hear him coming from miles away.
“Donate to the Fund Hope Foundation here!” Mr. Agawa would call as he pedaled furiously, his too-long legs sticking out at near-ninety-degree angles, his bucket of change clanging rhythmically against his back as he maneuvered his trike through the pathways.
“Don’t listen to that clown!” Mr. Joseph would counter, shaking his own box of change. “No one should take a grown man who rides a tricycle seriously. Donate to the Fund Hope Foundation here!”
Some students donated to Mr. Joseph. But more of them donated to Mr. Agawa…Especially once word got around that Mr. Agawa would allow any student who donated more than a dollar to take a spin on his trike.
Mr. Joseph was fighting a losing battle.
Friday was pie day.
Mr. Joseph and Mr. Agawa brought their respective earnings to the folding table that the Fund Hope students had set up in the middle of the quad.
There was a pie container on the table, and two cash boxes.
Two groups of students made short work of counting the money both teachers brought in.
“Mr. Agawa raised $98.57!” Kyle, the student president of the Fund Hope Club, announced at last.
“Ha!” Mr. Agawa said, shooting Mr. Joseph a superior look.
“And Mr. Joseph raised $162.32 for a grand total of $260.89! Congratulations, Mr. Joseph.”
Mr. Agawa’s jaw dropped. “What? I lost? Did you just say that I lost?”
“I’m afraid so, Mr. Agawa,” Kyle nodded. “It looks like you would’ve won, but apparently somebody donated a hundred-dollar bill to Mr. Joseph.” He held up the offending currency.
Mr. Agawa’s eyes bugged out.
“A hundred-dollar bill?” Mr. Agawa screeched, turning to Mr. Joseph. “Who gave you a hundred-dollar bill??”
“That’s between me and the student,” Mr. Joseph replied, smugly.
Mr. Agawa snatched the bill out of Kyle’s hands and turned to glare at the assembled students. “Who did this?”
No one responded.
“Sorry, Chuck,” Mr. Joseph said. “I’m afraid it’s your turn to eat pie today.”
The Fund Hope students handed Mr. Joseph the pie while Kyle and the other Fund Hope students put the money away.
As Mr. Joseph uncovered the pie, he turned to Mr. Agawa. “How do you feel about banana cream pies?”
“I hate them,” Mr. Agawa said. “Worst pies ever.”
“Good thing this one’s coconut, then!” Mr. Joseph said, as he lifted the pie without warning and shoved it into Mr. Agawa’s face.
Mr. Agawa tried to duck at the last moment, but perhaps anticipating his opponent’s evasive maneuver, Mr. Joseph ducked with him and still managed to thoroughly cream him.
Everyone cheered as the pie tin fell to the floor, leaving its contents on Mr. Agawa’s face.
“Urgh,” Mr. Agawa said, swiping globs of coconut cream off with his fingers. “Bleh.”
“That should teach you not to ride a tricycle in public again!” Mr. Joseph laughed as the students giggled and the Fund Hope students handed Mr. Agawa a wet towel to wipe off his face.
“Never!” Mr. Agawa vowed as he toweled off the cream. “I am not ashamed of my trike.”
Mr. Joseph clapped him on the back. “You keep telling yourself that, Charles. And one day you might find yourself with another coconut pie in the face.”
“At least I like coconut,” Mr. Agawa grumbled.
During lunch on Monday, Scott walked over to Tim. “Hey, I see you packed two sandwiches for lunch today. Can I have one?”
Tim stopped eating and looked up at his classmate suspiciously. “Why don’t you have your own lunch?”
Scott gave an exaggerated sigh. “Well, usually I buy, but I don’t have any money right now, and my allowance doesn’t come in until next month.”
Tim shrugged. “Sure, man. I don’t like tuna that much anyway, but my mom always gives me two of everything. She thinks I’m a growing boy.”
Tim handed the sandwich to Scott. “By the way, how did you use up all your allowance so quickly?”
Scott had started to saunter away, but he paused. “I bought a pie.”
“A pie?” Tim said. “Like, pumpkin, cherry, blueberry? Pies don’t cost that much.”
“This one did. You weren’t here last week?”
“No, I was out sick, remember?”
“Oh, right. Well, let’s just say this pie cost a bit more than usual. A little over one hundred dollars, to be exact.”
“You bought a hundred-dollar pie?”
“Did it taste good?”
Scott shrugged. “I have no idea…But it was totally worth it.”
Thank you for reading!
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Foolproof Fundraising Tactics Guaranteed to Crush the Competition and Win the Day was originally published in The Write Purpose on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.