Pay-Off Time

bottle caps

Back in the 40’s, on the West Side of Chicago, teenagers didn’t have much of an income stream. I worked at a local butcher shop on Saturdays, delivering meat to customers on my bicycle. It had a large basket in front. After I delivered all the packages, I swept up all the old sawdust on the wood floor, and redistributed new sawdust. It wasn’t exciting but it kept me in ice cream bars and Pepsi-Colas, and I split my salary with my mom.

One day I heard a rumor that the local Coca-Cola bottling plant was buying bottle caps in bulk. How many caps does it take to make a pound? I was soon to find out. I lined up dozens of stores and made my rounds after school. They were pleased I took them off their hands, but they couldn’t figure out what I wanted them for. In time I had a mountain of caps and now it was…”pay-off time.”

I filled up a large wagon full, and made it to the local Coca Cola plant which was only six blocks from my house. Fortunately, two of my friends came along to help me or I never would have made it. Every time I hit a bump, I lost some of my caps, but they trailed behind and picked them up.

When we finally arrived, a little too early, they were closed, but we waited until they opened the doors. There were dozens of stone steps leading up to the entrance, but my friends lifted the back end and I took the front and made it through the door. When I turned around, they were both gone. They weren’t taking any chances. In case the rumor we had heard was false and not based on fact, they left me there to fend for myself.

A man approached, with a puzzled look on his face. He asked me if he could help me. I told him I was there to redeem my caps. He stood there for a long moment trying to maintain his composure, but I could see he was having a hard time.

“Kid, we don’t buy caps,” is all he said. “Whoever said we did was pulling your leg.” I stood there crushed.

“Are you sure? I would hate to carry these all the way back home. I could let you have them for a discount,” I said in a pleading manner.

“Sorry, we don’t recycle bottle caps,” and with that he spun on his heel and was gone.

When I told my friends how we had been had, we decided to catch the rumor monger and make him eat caps. In the meantime we dumped them in the nearest garbage can and never told anyone how gullible we had been.

Eventually, we found out who the perpetrator of this hoax was, and to this day, when he comes to our annual reunion, he has to sit at a table all by himself. We don’t forgive or forget easily.

(photo courtesy of Grant Cochraine)

Jerry Goldberg About Jerry Goldberg

Jerry Goldberg grew up on the west side of Chicago. After high school, he was drafted in the Army during the Korean conflict. Upon his honorable discharge, he joined Local 130 in Chicago as a plumber, working from 1952 to 2000. Jerry has been happily married for 60 years, residing with his wife, Gloria, in Huntley, Illinois. They were blessed with two wonderful children, and have three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
When his son encouraged him to get online, Jerry replied, "What do I need that for?" But all that changed a year into his retirement, when his daughter gave him a modem for his birthday, opening a whole new chapter. Finding stained glass insufficiently fulfilling, Jerry discovered the AARP message boards and began his one-finger magic. Eventually, he became quite proficient (two fingers), starting a board called, "Jerry's Corner."

This board was the second most popular board on AOL. Jerry bantered with any and all, and began writing humorous true stories of his past life. The stories you see here are a compilation of most he has written ... enjoy!

Jerry Goldberg About Jerry Goldberg

Jerry Goldberg grew up on the west side of Chicago. After high school, he was drafted in the Army during the Korean conflict. Upon his honorable discharge, he joined Local 130 in Chicago as a plumber, working from 1952 to 2000. Jerry has been happily married for 60 years, residing with his wife, Gloria, in Huntley, Illinois. They were blessed with two wonderful children, and have three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
When his son encouraged him to get online, Jerry replied, "What do I need that for?" But all that changed a year into his retirement, when his daughter gave him a modem for his birthday, opening a whole new chapter. Finding stained glass insufficiently fulfilling, Jerry discovered the AARP message boards and began his one-finger magic. Eventually, he became quite proficient (two fingers), starting a board called, "Jerry's Corner."

This board was the second most popular board on AOL. Jerry bantered with any and all, and began writing humorous true stories of his past life. The stories you see here are a compilation of most he has written ... enjoy!

Smiles For All