In the previous lesson, Beer Bottle Chamber of Death we discussed running a con to help the Universe right a wrong. Now I’m going discuss another legitimate reason for running a con. What if the Universe told you to run and con, but you didn’t know why? The people you were going after weren’t out any real money. As far as you knew the Universe was using you to wake those folks up, for some reason. Well, the next story deals with such an account:
Dear Beergirl and Beerboy Disciples,
Remember that salmon venture, mentioned in Salmon, Scotch and Yuppies? Well, a few weeks after I raked in all that cash, there I was, on another Saturday morning, wondering what to do.
Should I drive north to investigate the after effects of my salmon venture? My instincts were telling me let that be. I needed guidance. I reached into my wallet and took out my lucky fishhook. I’d give it a flip, and let fate tell me which way to go.
I checked the fishhook carefully for dirt that might alter its rotation. A good rub down with a rag took care of any concern. It’s hard enough to know what fate wants from you without letting chance screw things up.
The hook went up from my palm, turned end over end. It took one good bounce off the asphalt, and then came to rest. The hook’s curve opened toward the south. That’s were I’d go.
I stayed away from the big highways. It felt like that kind of day. Rain muddied up the roads and my Jeep, but that was okay. People tend to keep their heads down, not look around a lot when it’s raining. That makes it easier for me to do lots of looking around and still avoid being spotted, and labeled “suspicious looking”.
Then I saw it; something more suspicious looking than me. It was right there, as I entered the city limits of the small town of Corn Valley. For some reason I’d never been there before. On the sign, under “Corn Valley” where the town puts it’s slogan bragging about what it’s best at doing, I saw something so strange I had trouble taking my eyes off the sign—
“Corn Valley High.–The Longest Losing streak in High School Football—35 years without a win, and still counting. Yeah, our team!!!”
I had found the spot in the universe that was the opposite of every football school in the South USA. There was no other way to interpret that sign–these yokels were proud of being losers. I smelled some folks in desperate need of help. And I needed gas anyway. Should I stop?
I felt my fish hook and it was warm. I had actually wished the hook would be cold, but oh, well. I had a job to do.
The rural highway exited me on to an authentic small town main street. There was my gas station, the only one I could see.
The attendant ran out to greet me.
“Yes, sir, what can I do for you, sir?”
He kept his eyes down, wouldn’t look me in the eyes.
“This the only service station here in town?”
“Yes, sir, the only one. We don’t deserve another, even if it’d make life easier. We’re losers around here.”
“Our high school football team’s lost every game for 35 years in a row. That’s more than bad luck. We’re cursed. But, we’re used to it. Fill’er up?”
“Yep. A curse, huh?”
“We around here must have done something bad, real bad, long ago. But we’re not sure what. Sorry, sir, for babbling on–that’s what losers do.”
“Get a new coach, change your mascot, get new uniforms, you folks can be winners.”
“Oh, no, sir, we’d never do any of that. The problem is we’re losers. We just have to accept that. We are destined to be losers, we’ll always be losers. Sorry for babbling on again.”
“That’s too bad. Got a tavern in this burg?”
“Oh, yes, sir. That’s were we spend all our spare time. We closed down our church because we’re such cursed losers. We don’t deserve to have a church. No, sir, losers like us, a tavern is all we deserve.”
“You know yourself better than me. Where is this tavern?”
Yes, this town needed some serious help.
The tavern wasn’t that far away, at the edge of the small business district; The Loser’s Lair. The place had the biggest parking lot in town. The parking lot was full, even now, at lunchtime.
I stepped inside and right away smelled that smell. It was the smell of losers letting off steam. Ooo, yeah. I sat at the bar.
The clink of pool balls was the only noise in the place. It was that indiscriminate click, the kind coming from pool balls struck by losers who don’t know what they’re doing. I needed to regroup and get a grip on how to help these folks.
Then I heard an oddly strange sharp sound strike of pool balls. I looked toward the sound. A pool ball had elevated from green felt in a way that only extremely unskilled pool players could ever achieve.
The bright ball flew toward the bar. My mental physics machine did the math and figured out what would happen. The ball was headed toward a full pitcher of beer on the bar counter. The predestined physics of born-losers was looking to accelerate itself and spill perfectly good beer.
The rest of the taverns patrons had caught on that something unusual was happening. All of us watched the flight of the ball. Everyone else, though, had frozen in fear. I realized that if I reached out my left hand, and leaned a bit, that I could catch the ball before it hit the beer pitcher. So, I did so. I reached out; the ball smacked in to my left palm.
The look on the losers’ faces spoke volumes. They should have been thankful I’d stopped an accident. Instead, they looked at each other in disbelief, not comprehending why the worst had not happened to them, why the beer pitcher had been saved. I tossed the ball back to the pool players.
The bartender was in shock.
“Was that good luck that just happened?” said the bartender.
“I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen good luck before” said another man at the bar.
Murmurs of quiet shock drifted through the tavern as the locals tried to figure out what had just happened.
The bartender walked over to me.
“You aren’t from around here.”
“Nope, I’m from up north. Just out for a drive.”
“Oh. Folks around here aren’t lucky. I moved away from here for a few years when I was young, so I’ve seen lucky folk, unlike most people here. I know what you are—you’re a lucky guy.”
“You got any pizza restaurants in this burg?” I asked.
“Oh, no sir. No place that fancy would have anything to do with us” said the bartender.
I had thought there wasn’t a pizza joint here. That helped explain the lack of luck. For more info on why I’d say that read Old Cheese in this lesson section.
A man 2 stools away from me had been listening to me and the bartender.
“We’re unlucky. That’s just the way it is. It’s the way it’s supposed to be” he said.
“Really? Why’s that?” I said.
The man stared at the bar top instead of looking at me.
“It’s best not to wonder why. That just brings more bad luck.”
The bartender, everyone in the place made small verbal and body gestures agreeing.
“Some people are lucky, some aren’t. That’s the way it is.” said the bartender.
I looked around the place, looked at the dirty rough wood walls, the clouds of cigarette smoke. There were about 20 men in the place. Their clothes were worn, despair written all over them.
How was I going to help them? Then, it dawned on me. I slapped my hand on the counter.
“Good golly, I do believe you’re right. I know good luck; I know bad luck. I’m one of the lucky ones.”
“Yes, sir, you’ve got that look” said the bartender.
“Yes, sir, I could see it on you when you came in. You’re better than us” said the man next to me.
A man back in the room spoke just loud enough for everyone to hear.
“That’s just the way it is. Some folks are better than others” he said.
I stood up so they all could see and hear me.
“That’s what I like to hear. People honest about themselves. I, as one lucky man applaud you losers for being so honest.”
The bartender looked very grateful.
“Thank you, sir.”
“Now, it’s time for me to collect my tribute.”
There was a murmur in the group. They didn’t understand “tribute”. You could tell by the tone of their voices that they were sure the fault for the misunderstanding was on their shoulders.
The bartender got enough courage to speak up.
“What’s tribute, sir?”
“That’s money! When a lucky man like me comes along, unlucky folks like you have to give me money. That’s the way it works.”
The bartender got very apologetic.
“I’m so sorry, sir. No one every told us that.”
The man next to me at the bar moaned.
“Darn it; ‘tribute’! That’s something else we aren’t doing right!”
The rest of the crowd murmured in agreement.
“That’s all right. Now you know. I’m glad to help.”
The bartender had that sound in his voice young dogs make, when they’ve figured out something about life for the first time.
“So, how do we do it? How do we do ‘tribute’?”
I rubbed my hands together.
“It goes like this. Take all the money out of your cash register. The rest of you give me all the cash you’ve got. Then the bartender here must give out free drinks for the rest of the day.”
Hurriedly the soon-to-be ex-losers got out their money.
The man next to me dug through his wallet, making sure he hadn’t missed any cash. Still, he looked nervous.
“What’s the trouble?” I asked him.
“It’s that free beer, sir. That sounds an awful lot like good luck.”
I slapped him on the back.
“Not if I say so!”
The crowd murmured in relief.
“That’s right. You’re a lucky man, you would know” said the bartender.
The bartender had gathered money from everyone else. He put the money in my hands.
“Thanks for telling us about ‘tribute’. Now, whenever a lucky man comes in here we’ll know what to do, before he even asks’ said the bartender.
The man next to me moaned.
“Think about how many lucky men we’ve insulted because we didn’t know about ‘tribute’ he said.
Now it was time to make things interesting.
I stood up, dropped the ‘tribute’ on the bar, and then got out my own wallet. I took out $300 and dropped it on top of the tribute.
The bartender looked at me confused.
“What are you doing?” he said.
“I’m a lucky man. I can do what I want. And I want all of you men to have free beer for as long as all this money lasts.”
“But you put your own money in there” said the bartender.
“A lucky man can do whatever he wants.”
“No argument from me on that” said the bartender.
The bartender smiled a bit.
“So, start pouring!” I said.
I spent the rest of the day with them, teaching them how to have a good time. When I left late that evening the last thing I said to them was ‘Have a good evening’. No one had ever said that to any of them. I could tell by the look on their faces that they had changed, they had stopped being losers. I even heard some of the men talking about taking down that town slogan sign.
Yours in the faith,