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When I was really young, maybe six or seven, I came up with the most brilliant plan ever. We had a corner store not to far away, the Short Stop (which later became a Sugarcreek) which sold candy and pop and the usual corner store stuff. They also had a small selection of those cheap toys that you find in drug stores and the like. Well, one time I was in there, trying to decide what to spend my twenty-five or thirty cents on, and there it was, on the toy rack: a package of play money.
Inside the cardboard and plastic blister pack, there was a variety of coins of various denominations, and a small stack of fake bills, which were fanned out so that you sould see exactly what you were getting. There, at the bottom of the pile, on the left side, I could see that at least one of these was a hundred dollar bill! The play money looked real enough to my six-year-old eyes, and a cunning scheme immediately formed in my little brain. I picked out one pack of fake bills, and checked to make sure there were plenty more behind it - if I played this right, and kept my cool, this could be like one of those stories where the guy gets three wishes, and keeps asking for three more wishes when the last one comes up.
I paid for the funny money, and rushed home to count it. I quickly discarded the large plastic coins - they weren't worth enough to take the risk of trying to use them. I counted the bills, pondered my course of action, and even talked about it briefly with some of my playmates in the neighborhood. This was obviously genius, fool-proof, and we were stunned that nobody had thought of it before. The next day, I put the fake hundred in my pocket, walked back to the Short Stop, and headed directly for the candy aisle.
I remember it being a huge deal when the candy prices went up to thirty-five cents; then, you could still get pretty much anything you wanted for a quarter, plus two cents sales tax. I felt the bill in my pocket, and looked up and down the rows and stacks of chocolate bars and sugary sweet things. "I could buy all of this," I thought, "all the candy I would ever want!" I was kind of nervous, excited, making the play money a little damp from crumpling it with my sweaty little hands, to make it look a little more used. I remember lingering over the Everlasting Gobstoppers, which were a favorite among my friends, because you could tell how tough a kid was by the amount of time he took to suck the colored outer layers off before biting into the jawbreaker.
I finally decided that, as a test run, I'd play it cool, and just buy one thing - some artifically fruit-flavored Wacky Wafers - so they wouldn't get too suspicious the first time out. I still had almost a hundred dollars in various fake bills back home, and I could come back any time, buy as much candy as I wanted, and then casually throw another pack of play money on my pile of sweets, and start all over again. Before they knew it, I'd own that place. Plus, if this worked out this first time, I'd not only have my virtually free candy, but ninety nine dollars and some in real money, from the change! Man, I was so slick.
I headed over to the checkout, and put my package of candy up on the counter. There were two people behind the register, probably teenagers, and after ringing me up, I took out the crumpled hundred dollar bill, placed it on the counter, and smoothed it out, so they could see exactly what and who they were dealing with. They just sort of looked at the fake money, then at each other, and then down at me as they asked, "Uh, do you have any real money?" Crap! I was so busted! Were they going to call the cops? Or worse, my parents? I'd just play it cool and see if they went along with it. I shrugged, and shook my head, not saying anything. The guy at the checkout picked up my play money, put it somewhere behind the counter, and pushed the Wacky Wafers over to me. "Well, don't try that again." He didn't give me any change.
Man, what a relief. I grabbed the candy and headed out the door, not entirely sure that it wasn't a trick to cement my guilt further until I got all the way home. I was pretty eager to tuck into my prize, but first, I had to destroy the evidence. I don't remember if I just ripped up the rest of the play money, or buried it somewhere, or found some way to burn it, but I assure you, there was no way that a detective was going to hear about what happened, track me down, and find that I still had the means to pull the same scam on another unsuspecting purveyor of goodies somewhere down the road.
I don't think I've ever told anyone about that before, not even my little buddies who helped me troubleshoot the plan. And now, you're all amost like accomplices, so keep a lid on it. If I go down, you're all going down with me.(September 06, 2003 08:26 PM)