Item 38 | What the Deuce?! -- Fearless Cultural Mania

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Would you pay five cents apiece for a hundred paper towel tubes?

Treasure Trash

Never, ever doubt Deuce of Clubs.

space I received an e-mail from a woman at the place I'm working. It had the subject line: "Please Contribute to My Trash Pile!"
"In order to facilitate the Arts and Crafts activities associated with the training we need some everyday household items that everyone can help contribute. If you have any of the following items, please bring them in for the next couple of weeks. Donations will be taken at my desk.
  • Wire Hangers
  • Toilet Paper Tubes
  • Paper Towel Tubes
  • Kleenex Boxes
Thanks for your help!"
I saw her in the hall & asked how many she'd need. "As many as I can get," she said. I told her I had a bunch, and she repeated she'd take as many as she could get. "How about a hundred?" I asked.

"You don't have a hundred," she said. I asked whether she doubted me. She said she did. "Bet me five dollars, then," I said. We shook hands. She gave me a deadline of two weeks.

space Another woman, with whom I've worked on contracts off & on for quite a while, heard about it & said, "You made a BET with HIM? ERROR!" She knows I only bet on sure things.

This was a sure thing. No, I wasn't going to need two weeks. I already had a pile of paper towel tubes. I had been saving them. Or at least accumulating them. I wasn't sure why. I had thought maybe I might do something flammable with them at Burning Man, but never had. Now I knew why I'd been saving them.

The plan was to decorate her cube with exactly 99 of them, in the hope that she'd count 'em, & proclaim the bet lost. Then I would reach into a drawer for the 100th.

space The next morning I snuck a garbage bag full of towel tubes into the building. Don't ask me how.

My plan to lure her from her cube turned out to be unnecessary -- she was already in a meeting in a nearby conference room. But I'd have to be quiet; even as I was setting up the tubes, I could hear her in the meeting, telling the others about the bet. I finished by covering her chair with the garbage bag.

After I had taken photos, I took one of the tubes, walked in on the meeting, and placed it on the conference table in front of her. "Well, one down, ninety-nine to go," she said. She thought the bet was in the bag. (She'd see a bag soon enough, I thought.) Everyone laughed, thinking I'd never make it within the allotted two weeks.

space This was the sight that greeted her after her meeting.

I also left a message on her whiteboard: "A nickel apiece is a pretty good price. Want to buy any more?"

She declined.

space "Well, you still need hangers, then?" I asked.

"You don't have a hundred hangers!"

I put my hand out. "Five bucks?"

She declined.

"Too bad," I told her. "I don't have a hundred hangers. It's just that I like to give a person a chance to win back their money."

Lunch tasted great that day. Free meals are definitely the best.


That afternoon, as I rounded a corner, I saw a woman & a man come in the front door together. I asked who they were looking for, and the woman said, "We're looking for YOU!"

Obviously selling something.

They admitted they were selling Circus Circus coupon books. "I'll bet you go there a lot," she said. "Nope. I don't gamble," I said. "But wait -- I did win a bet today, though."

"See?" She smiled. "You do gamble!"

"No," I said. "It was no gamble at all. It was a sure thing."