Okay, even a pro like me can screw up. Sometimes really, really screw it up. Alright, screw it up massively gigantic. I’m going to humble myself and tell you about one of those times.

I wish I could say the following occurred when I was young and foolish. That would be lying. I have to admit it. This occurred when I was older and foolish. Please don’t make me say anymore, let’s just get into the Lesson:


Dear Disciple,

I’m alone in the house. I saw them get on the plane, watched the plane take off. There’s no way they got out of that plane. It took me 20 minutes to get to the house from the airport. They’re honeymooning at a hunting lodge in Saskatchewan for 2 weeks. I picked out the place. No phones. The plane only comes once every 2 weeks. There’s not going to be any surprises. It’s just me and 300 wedding gifts, alone. And when I’m through the best stuff will be mine.

Like I always say, don’t put all your beer in one cooler. Even a great scam doesn’t take all your time. Keep your eye out. Running those little scams on the side keeps you sharp. So, when Bill asked me to be his best man, I knew this was it. Bill and Jill’s wedding was going to be my holiday, too.

But, what scam to run? First I thought of charging admission for the bachelor party. Not much chance for a mark up there, though. Then it hit me—the wedding gifts! What could I do there? Then I remembered the junk I’ve been collecting at the recycling joint. You’d be surprised what people throw away. When we’re picking up the empty beer bottles we find all kinds of stuff people throw away. I’ve been stashing it away, not sure what to do with it. Pots, pans, blenders, lots of impractical stuff like that. Am I glad I kept it all!!

I talked Bill into letting me do the wedding announcement mailing. Jill gave me a list. It was so short. She wanted a “small, intimate wedding”. Not many gifts! I told her there were plenty more friends they should ask. People don’t like to be uninvited. I added 200 people. When Jill complained I said don’t worry, most of them won’t show up, just mail a gift.

In the announcements I told the guests how to wrap the presents. Put them in a fancy gift bag, and tie the bag shut. No tape. I said that Jill and Bill are environmentalists and don’t like wrapping tape. This part of the scam meant I could get the gifts open easy, and re-shut them easy, without anyone knowing.

Like I said, I got home from the airport quick. The presents had been brought from the church by Jim, dropped off in the basement, like I told him. Don’t worry, I’m thinking, I had Jim slide his key under the front door when he was leaving.

This is how it was going to go. I put on the TV, to a football game. Then I opened each gift bag. I made a list of everything. Then I’d go back to the recycling plant and get old stuff to match the new. If the gift was a new coffee maker, I’d substitute a used one. Then I’d return the new one for the cash.

It was going great! I couldn’t believe my luck. A chrome-plated TV remote control, fancy steak knives, engraved crystal beer mugs, a sterling silver pizza pan, his and her water mattresses. And I had substitutes for everything. Or at least close enough.   I was feeling really up, until—.

I had just pulled out a set of Star Trek orange juice tumblers. Then a voice came into my head. It was Jill—“O, thanks, Davvd, you’ve been such a great help. Friends like you so hard to find. You’ve done so much. There’s no need for you to help us write the thank you notes, too.” Why hadn’t it clicked in my head sooner! Bill and Jill were going to write thank you notes! In them they were going to say “Thanks—–, for the —-. We will think of you every time we use the —-.”

This would be a problem. I hadn’t made my list so I knew who had given what! If I stuck a coffee maker in Bill and Jill’s gift bag, and they had given a juicer, this was going to be a problem. I knew Jill’s girl friends well enough. They’d call and say, “No, Jill, I gave you a juicer, not a coffeemaker. Jill would start getting lots of calls like this. And I’d be found out.

It was too late to call the scam off. I’d opened over 150 presents already. What to do? I thought of calling my grandmother for advice, but knew what she would say. “You got yourself into this, Davvd. You’ve got to learn to problem solve in the field on your own. It wouldn’t be right of me to always bail you out.”

So, what to do? The evidence: I had to get rid of it. A fire!! That’s it: I’d start a fire. First I’d substitute the used junk, then torch the place. I already had the gas poured on the rug. I had ignited the accident flare to get the torch going when I thought, wait a minute… what about a robbery?

That’s how I’d bail myself out. I’d fake a robbery. That way I’d get to keep the used and the new stuff! I waited until it was dark. I backed up one of the semis into the backyard. I kept the lights off in the house, walked the presents out in the dark so the neighbors wouldn’t see me. Then I broke out some windows. I found the wedding announcement in the old newspaper bin, the one that said when the wedding would be. I left the announcement in the basement inside the broken windows. This way it would look like some thief had read about the wedding, and knew Jill and Bill would be gone.

I’m sitting back in the recycling office now. You’d be proud of me, David. I pulled it off. I came up with a great plan, but made a little mistake. Then I figured out how to bail myself out, all by myself I did. Need some fancy steak knives?

Yours in the faith,




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