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The Slowest Rider
Jeremy was a born loser. He often said he was just like Charlie Brown in the Peanuts cartoon strip. He lost at everything he tried. He lost at baseball and soccer and football. He lost at spelling and math and science. He even lost at lunch, because he never had anything to trade that anybody else wanted. He was a loser. That's all there was to it.
Jeremy's schoolteacher, Miss Mitchell, noticed that he had a hard time making friends and being part of the group. After all, nobody wanted a loser on their team. And nobody wanted a loser as a friend. So Jeremy spent most of his time alone.
One Saturday Miss Mitchell walked the few blocks from her home to the market. She had some shopping to do. She bought milk, bread, fruit, and a Snicker's bar, her favorite treat. After she paid the cashier at the market, she took her sack of groceries and started walking back home.
About a block from her house, Miss Mitchell heard someone calling her name.
"Hi, Miss Mitchell!"
When she turned around, she saw Jeremy coming up behind her on his bicycle.
"Hi, Jeremy!" she called back.
Jeremy rode up beside Miss Mitchell and slowed down. Miss Mitchell kept walking as they talked about school and sports. And Jeremy rode his bike alongside her very slowly.
Miss Mitchell noticed that Jeremy had great balance on his bike, even when he rode very slowly. So she began to walk even more slowly to see what he would do.
It didn't matter how slowly Miss Mitchell walked, Jeremy could ride his bike and stay balanced. He was the best slow rider she had ever seen.
"Jeremy, you really ride your bike well," said Miss Mitchell.
"Thanks," said Jeremy shyly.
"How do you stay balanced when you're riding so slowly?"
"I don't know; it's just easy for me. I've always been able to do it."
Miss Mitchell smiled to herself. She knew what she was going to do Monday at school.
At recess on Monday, Miss Mitchell announced that they were going to have a contest a very special bike riding contest. "The reason this contest is so special is because it's a slow bike riding contest."
"A slow riding contest?" asked Philip. "What's that mean?"
"The person who can ride a bike the slowest for the longest without falling over will win the contest," said Miss Mitchell, glancing up at Jeremy. He was grinning from ear to ear.
"All right, everyone, line up with your bikes at this line." Philip, Andy, and James all lined up together. Two or three other kids lined up in the middle. And Jeremy slowly came up to the line at the far end.
"Now, when I say go, get on your bikes and ride them toward the baseball field as slowly as you can without falling over. Ready? Set. Go!"
Two of the kids had hardly begun before they had lost their balance and were out of the race. James tried to be clever and ride without any hands, but he found out he couldn't do it and go slowly. So he was out. Philip just couldn't ride slowly, no matter how hard he tried. He finally gave up.
Finally, only Andy and Jeremy were left. And Andy was having to work really hard to keep his balance while Jeremy was just slowly riding toward the baseball field. It seemed easy for him.
"Wow, Miss Mitchell!" said Philip, now watching Jeremy with new admiration. "How does he do that?"
"He's just very talented, Philip," she smiled. "Haven't you ever noticed?"
"No, ma'am, I guess I haven't."
"Auugh!" yelled Andy as he finally lost his balance and toppled over.
Jeremy slowly rode on toward the baseball field. I won! I won! he thought.
Miss Mitchell called all the kids together on the playground. "Boys and girls, I am proud to award this first-place cap to Jeremy Johnson, the first and very best slow bike rider at Travis Elementary School."
"Hooray for Jeremy!" yelled one of the little girls who thought Jeremy was nice.
Then all the kids joined in. "Way to go, Jeremy!" "Attaboy, Jeremy!" "Great job, Jeremy!"
Miss Mitchell slowly backed out of the circle of children and watched Jeremy receive his deserved praise. Now she was the one grinning.
After school that day, Miss Mitchell was in her classroom grading papers when she heard a knock on the door. She looked up to see Jeremy.
"May I come in, Miss Mitchell?" he asked quietly.
"Sure, Jeremy. What can I do for you?"
"You already did it, Miss Mitchell. Thanks for letting me win that contest today."
"Now, wait just a minute, Jeremy. I did not let you win. You won that contest fair and square."
"Well, I guess so, but you picked a contest you knew I could win."
"All I did was give you a chance to show your friends the special talent that God gave you, Jeremy. Every person has some gifts from God, and He gave you a couple of really good ones."
About that time, Philip and James stuck their heads in the room, and Philip said, "Hey, Jeremy, we're going swimming down at the park. Want to go with us?"
"Sure!" smiled Jeremy with surprise. "I'll be right there." Then, turning back to Miss Mitchell, and making sure the other boys weren't watching, he kissed her on the cheek. "Anyway, thanks for what you did."
"You're welcome, Jeremy. Say, what else do you do really well?"
With a great big grin, Jeremy took off his "Best Slow Bike Rider" cap, took a big bow, and laughed as he ran out of the room, "Slow swimming!"