Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Great American Smoke Out Day...

Quite a few years ago, I worked with a guy name Jim Berone. Jim was a somber individual with his most notable trait being his cheapness. Is that a word? Jim was so cheap it made things very difficult to even be around him. He always had a pocket full of coupons and knew which dry cleaners had a special going on. This was before the Internet and if you wanted to know something about a place that concerned saving money, you just asked Jim. Jim came from a long line of thrifty people and he tells stories of how his father made a fortune returning soda bottles and putting himself through school with no job, but a knack for knowing where he could find soda bottles in the Philadelphia area.

One day we were driving around when we ran out of gas. One minute we were driving down the road and the next minute we were pushing that same car. Fortunately we were close to a gas station when we ran out and we pushed his heavy Buick up to the pump. As I leaned on the heavy car in 110 degree temperatures, I wiped my forehead with a paper towel and watched Jim pump $2 worth of fuel into his gas guzzling Buick. With my mouth agape, I looked at him in shock and said, "What are you doing, $2 won't even get us home"? Confidently, he replied, "No, but it will get us to the Super Pumper where I can get gas 4 cents cheaper a gallon"! My face fell and I recited the words, "Why me, Lord"?

Jim and I used to have a ritual everyday and we'd eat breakfast at Perkins Restaurant. As we pulled up to Perkins, Jim said you go in and I'll be there is few minutes, I need to buy cigarettes. A light bulb lit over my head as I recalled that today was the Great American Smoke Out Day. I had heard it on my way to Jim's house. I said wait just a minute! Today is the Great American Smoke Out Day and in honor of this day, Perkins is giving a free breakfast for every breakfast you buy, if you smoke and don't smoke today. I watched Jim's face light up as he pictured keeping half of his money in his pocket, since it was his turn to buy. We entered and were seated and had our usual breakfast and let's say the bill came to $20. Jim looked at me and commented that they didn't reduce the price of our breakfast for the Great American Smoke Out Day. I assured him that they will take it off at the register. As we approached the cashier and it was the old grim manager that was working the register. We knew him from previous visits and he had no personality whatsoever. Jim handed him the check and a twenty dollar bill. The old sour puss looked over his glasses as he looked at Jim and said, with tax it comes to $21.72. Jim replies, we're here for the Great American Smoke Out Day and I usually smoke, but didn't today and smiled waiting for his great discount. As the manager began to look confused, I couldn't hold it anymore and burst out laughing, holding my already full stomach! As the manager mouthed the words, "What are you talking about"? I left them both there to discuss it. I wished that they had the all too popular camera phones then to capture Jim's look on his face as he walked out of the restaurant's door $21.72 lighter.

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