The $102 Pack of Cigarettes

Posted: June 23, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Last year, the only son of an elderly neighbor of mine was pounding on my front door relentlessly late at night at the most ridiculous of hours.

I knew who it was, and I knew what he had wanted. This 16 year old son was wanting me to go to the corner store and buy him a pack of cigarettes.

After realizing that he just wasn’t going to go away, he said that he had the money in his pocket and I told him to prove it to me.

He dug deep into his pockets and pulled out two fists full of loose change. Including a collection of at least eight Walking Liberty Half Dollars and other assorted quarters and nickels.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. Was he absolutely serious about handing over these old coins? All of them were minted in around the years of the World War II era. The majority of them were from 1944. He had one that was from 1941, and another from 1946.

It was ridiculous. I asked him if he knew what he was doing and if he knew how much these old coins were worth. He said he didn’t know and didn’t care. He had recently gone to the corner store himself to buy something else, but the store clerk refused to accept them. So he was trying to get rid of them.

So, I was no idiot. This was the one time that I went ahead and did this for him. Besides, the rest of the change I needed so that I could do some laundry to have clean clothes. I took all of his change and kept it to myself and paid for it out of my own pocket. The transaction was complete and we never spoke of it again. I hid those half dollars like it was the Holy Grail itself.

Time went on, his father (my neighbor) passed away. And he moved away to live with some guardians. Up until two days ago where he came knocking on my door, his skateboard in hand. He came in and sat down and talked his face off, complaining about his social life and how terrible things had become since he lost his father. It truly is a sad situation for him.

And then he brings up the conversation about his massive half dollar collection. Apparently, he went to some coin and silver shop and traded in what he had left over. He told me the story about how he had received about $150 for his coins. And he was really getting excited as he continued to tell his tale.

Then… it hit. The real, deep-down reason as to why he was here visiting with me. Because of the fact that he got so much money for those silver coins AND that he had blown all that money in one day… he wanted those coins back.

Umm, NO. It was part of a transaction.

So I told him, “Do you have a pack of cigarettes because that’s what YOU bought with those coins?”. Obviously, he wasn’t going to have any!! So I turned him away empty handed.

I knew the value of those coins were far more than just fifty cents. And he received his smokes. So those coins now belonged to me. But he kept insisting until I just told him that I didn’t have them any more.

Out the front door, he stormed off. He said that he would be back later to see if I had put my hands on those coins again since “I stored them at the house of my parents who live two states away.”

This afternoon, I too went to the same coin and silver store as he and traded in all the coins that I found in my safe place. With the loose quarters and nickels that I had and then used for laundry, added to what I received from the silver store for selling the coins, that pack of Marlboro Lights 100’s was worth a grand total of  $102.68!!!

Now clearly he did not understand the value. And he should have thought things through. But at his young age, all he was doing was focusing on what he wanted at that exact time and moment. So let it be a lesson to him. Although he’ll probably never learn because he’ll never know. I sure hope he smoked those things SLOWLY.. but I doubt that he did.

Also let it be a lesson to those who read this. There are reasons why people collect old coins. This would be one of the reasons.

And now I will be able to do laundry for at least the next six months.

 

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