Third-Grade Playground


Third-Grade Playground: A Little Satire on the Real Estate Industry

See if you recognize the kids.


Hey Pru, how much did you skim from the kids?

About $3.

Pretty weak Pru.

Goldie, what’d you get?

Around $4.

Could be worse—just ask Pru.

Kel, what’d you pull down?

About $4 also.

How you punks going to have any fun at all after school today on that limited cash?

Coldwell, did you skim enough to buy even thicker glasses?

Four and a half bucks; and shut up about my glasses Max.

Alright Max, you’ve just been waiting for us to ask…how much did you bully out of the kids?

Eight big ones punks; read ‘em and weep losers!

Max, how do you do it every time?  You didn’t hit anybody did ya?  Did you put the choke on them?  Trip ‘em?

It’s all in the technique kids.  First I’m sure to make eye contact before even walking up.  They’re petrified and don’t even move.  I just stand over them smacking my punch-ball in and out and in and out, harder and faster, then just stick out my hand.  They know the routine.  It’s pure intimidation based on my size and power.  I’ve been using that balloon strategy for a long time; it never fails.

Crap, here comes Nasso; don’t tell him how much I got; he’s going to shake us all down again.

Hello punks, how much did you skim and where’s my cut?  Max?

Seven bucks, here’s your percentage Nasso.  Coldwell, give me some cash and buy some thinner glasses punk; I can see into your skull when you wear those.  Kel, Goldie, Pru, cough up the cash; I gotta be on my way.  Off to say hi to my favorite teachers.  See ya losers.

Hey Max, coming up behind you, take a look at this new kid walking toward us.  We should rough him up right away so he knows his place on this playground.

Hey punk, I don’t remember seeing your ugly face in class; you new here?  What’s your name?


What, spell that.


Like what, Zuul, the god from ghostbusters.  My dad let us all watch that when mom was out.  Probably a little too scary for you.

No, it’s Zule, with a long-E vowel at the end—a bit more elegant than how you pronounced it; say it like Nike.

Hey Zule-Julie, you going to third grade here?

No, I’m in fourth grade at a private school just a few blocks away.

What are ya doing on our playground Zule-Julie?  This is our private playground and we don’t let outsiders play here.

I saw you guys have a really big, fancy playground here.  My school is kind of advanced and all—has me studying economics, geometry and calculous right now and really doesn’t have much of a playground.  My dad says I’m going to go to college and earn a degree in economics, math and statistics.

Oh yea, well Max’s dad owns a fancy golf course, so there.  That’s much cooler than some stupid economics degree Zule-Julie.  How’d you get in here anyway?

I saw your impressive playground and just jumped the fence.  It’s only a four-foot chain-link fence, not much of a barrier to entry really.  I got in easy while nobody was paying attention.

Well listen Zule-Julie, we don’t want you here.  This is our playground, and we run it our way.  We take a little cut of every kid’s lunch money at recess; each of us has our own group of kids we work.  And unless you want to pay double, you can’t stay punk.

Yes, I see you have some kind of organization going on.  You’re here thinking you are in charge, all the other kids are off playing in little groups trying to avoid you, and then there’s that kid over there all by himself in some kind of cardigan sweater.  Who’s he?

Oh, that’s Finn—I think he must be from Sweden or something.  He’s always by himself ‘cause we don’t like him and won’t let him in our gang.  He swings and swings, higher and higher, every day.  He believes he’ll go all the way around one day.  We think he’s going to lose momentum as he’s going around, fall, smash his head; there’ll be blood everywhere—yea cool, big puddles, and we’ll all go over and poke him with sticks.  We don’t like him.

Who’s that other kid in a suit standing outside the fence staring at you guys?

Don’t worry about him Zule-Julie.  He’s some rich kid—like Rudy or Herbert—some British name, or something I think.  He doesn’t go to school here; he’s got a private home tutor and a butler.  He’s a sissy and would never have the guts to come near us.  We’d scuff up his shiny dress shoes and send him pack’n.  We rule this playground and nobody messes with us.

Sounds like an excellent, well reflected plan you have for playground dominance.

Shut up Zule-Julie.  There’s a definite order here.  We run the show, but gotta give some to Nasso.

Nasso, what’s a Nasso?

Shut up Zule-Julie.  That’s Nat Asso—Nasso.  He’s in sixth grade and huge.  The junior high school football team lets him play on their practice squad already.  He gets a cut, well ‘cause everybody is afraid of him, and we don’t want to find out what happens if we go against him.

Yea, when Nasso’s not around Max likes to forget to pronounce the “N” when he talks about him.

Hey shut up Goldie or I’ll crush you.

Nasso’s got all the clout.  He’s big, he’s scary, and he sucks up to all the teachers, and even the principal, Sam.

You call your principal by his first name here?

Shut up Zule-Julie, that’s his last name.  We don’t know his first name.  His office door just says “U. Sam”.  Anyway, Nasso is connected; sucks up to all the teachers and the principal, and gets away with pretty much anything he wants.  Yea, he’s like Mr. Politico with the higher-ups.  Tells them he’s just looking out for everybody on the playground.  If they only knew…

Yea, he almost got busted a long time ago for bullying on the playground; got a little detention, but he talked his way out of trouble.  He’s been pushing the rules ever since, but Sam never seems to say anything since then.  Yea, Nasso is connected.  So we don’t cross him.

Plus Nasso’s also got his little personal following always trolling the playground.  He calls them his MLS’s.

What the heck is an MLS?

Shut up Zule-Julie.  That’s what Mr. Nasso calls his hit-girls: “My Little Sisters”.  They are punks.  They come around telling us what Nasso wants or doesn’t like, and we gotta suck up to them.  Otherwise, it gets back to Nasso that we are skirting his rules—and nobody wants to find out what he’ll do to us.  We lay low, give him his cut, put up with his MLS’s, and things just keep rolling along.  Everything’s fine as long as we live by Nasso’s rules.

So Zule-Julie, what do you do for money?  You think’n you’re coming in here and working our playground?  We’ll kick you out and leave you pulverized on the dirt.  We don’t tolerate outsiders punk.

Well I’ve got a different thought than using brute force.  You see, I know a lot of people who need chores done in a lot of different neighborhoods.  I’m not going to take the other kids’ money and give them nothing in return.  My plan is to help the kids make even more cash than their current lunch money.

They just need to let me know they want to do a few little chores, and then they float me a little cash for letting the home owners know about them. I’ll tell the people who need the chores done about these industrious kids.  I hook them up; they make money.  They’ll soon like having the little extra cash, pay me to tell more homeowners, and we’ll just keep the cycle going.  What do you guys offer them for the money you take?

Shut up Zule-Julie; we don’t gotta offer them anything.  They get to play peacefully on our playground and that’s enough for them.

Well, I’ll come back around after school lets out.  I’ll tell the kids about my plan, and see who’s interested.  Good luck with your current system; I’ve got to get back to class now.

Yea, good riddance Zule-Julie.  You haven’t got a chance.  This is our playground and nobody messes with it.  The other kids will never listen to you punk!

Max, you don’t think the other kids will ever listen to Zulé-Julie, do ya?



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