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Costly Pen



What did one balloon say to the other balloon?

"The rising cost of living is killing me!"

Ha, Ha! But inflation is no laughing matter. I can’t believe the way prices have been rising. Even yeast keeps going up and up.

Inflation is out of hand, I know. I was just into this discount store, which used to be a little dime store the last time I was there. I went to purchase some pens. Five or so years ago I bought ten pens in this same store, when it was a dime store.

We used to have dime stores, and now our “big discount” stores are dollar stores. That’s an inflation rate of 1000%!

So after running low on ink I took some money and entered the store expecting to buy more pens. But I couldn’t find that ten pen for a dollar special they had last time. And this time I was smart enough to bring a dollar and five cents, the five cents extra for tax, which I managed not to have the last time. Then I had gotten past by telling the counter girl I would bring the five cents next time. But this time I still ran into trouble again. My ten pens for a dollar special was nowhere to be found. So I looked around for six or so pens, anticipating paying fifty cents, hence enabling me to buy two sets. But the cheapest bargain I could find was one pen for fifty-three cents, and even these pens had ink seeping out their backs and were half out of ink. Subtract from this the half of the ink that always ends up on my hands and I would be getting a quarter of pen’s ink to put to use. This didn’t sound like a deal to me. So I went up to the stock boy, who was marking prices, and asked him about the ten pen special. I don’t know if I forgot to wipe the toothpaste off of my mouth that morning or what, because he just laughed at me. 1 was not in a humorous mood.

In my anger I finally found a decent pen for a buck and stormed up to the checkout line. I placed the pen down and handed my dollar and five cents to the lady, somewhat older than the girl who was here last time, I would guess by about five or so years.

She reached out for my money, gazing deeply into my eyes, and for a minute I thought it was love at first sight when she said, "Haven't I seen you before?"

I got all choked up, but before I could say something witty like, "Um… no, I don't think so, I usually dress with my shades pulled down," she barked out "That'll be One dollar and seven cents!"

I handed her my dollar and nickel, not fully in control of my senses. I was busy contemplating what style wedding ring she would prefer, as her voice rang in my head, and I did not hear the words, just the melody.

"You’re two cents short," she said as I started to come back to reality.

I managed a muffled, "Wha ... " as the ring for her finger seemed to be growing in size.

She looked somewhat upset. "That's One dollar and seven cents — seven cents tax, and you only gave me One Dollar and five cents!" she spat out, her enunciation very clear even through her spittle. “I need another two cents.”

I could see the ring I planned to give her in my dreams WAS growing. It was taking the shape of a noose and coming for my head, I knew that only quick talking and a little luck could save me now.

"Bu… But I don't… " I stammered in my most suave turn of phrase, as my hands dug deep into my empty pockets, feeling only the lint there. I prayed for a lot of luck.

"Wait a minute... " she said with an air of recognition, "Now I remember. Five years ago you were short five cents on a pack of ten pens special."

She reached over the cash register and pushed buttons for what seemed to be an eternity. "That'll be seven more cents please." she smiled.

I carefully reached my hand up to the counter…

"And you can't get away this time by saying you'll bring the money tomorrow because today is my last day ... " she rambled on…

...1 grabbed hold of the pen with trembling fingers and took off in a full sprint for the exit. I ran through three security guards and a cop in the street as a crazed lady screamed bloody murder behind me.

"Stop thief! Help! Police! A robbery, help!” she wailed on.

I gave the policeman a straight-arm as I headed out the door, kicking the gun from his hand as he pulled it from his belt. I shoved the pen into my pocket and ran off down the street. People were chasing and hollering, dogs were barking and sirens were wailing as I made a clean get-a-way.

I never stopped running until I was into my house and safe from pursuers. I plopped down on the nearest chair and pulled out my "hot" pen. I had paid A dollar and five cents for a pen that had let-loose during the chase, and now my pocket was stained with wet ink. Well, black goes with anything. Good thing it wasn’t a blue pen. Even the drops that fell upon my white pants really don’t look too bad. 

This was a pen that I had risked life and limb for as I ran from the law in a narrow escape. I made it, but the pen didn't.

And to think now I had to go back to that store to demand a refund for the defective pen.

I tried the pen anyways and it at least writes (as you can see), though most of its insides are still in my pocket.

So not knowing how long this pen will last will force me to keep my hands clean and save and scrape until I can gather together enough money to be able to go back to that store to purchase another pen (the lady did say it was her last day). So I keep my fingers crossed, hoping the pen will hold out, and I'll make my articles as short as possible to try to save ink. So I would end it here ... but I still have so much to say. The story goes on, how I wish it did end here.

I went to bed that night dreaming of murderers and car thieves. I hardly was able to get any sleep what with all that running.

And it wasn't until late this morning, after I was up for over an hour, that I finally got fully awoke when I opened up my mail. I found a letter from "that" store with a credit card in it.

A pamphlet also came in the letter, describing all the great uses of my new "Super Card" and ways to spend more money with it.

The smile faded, rather quickly, from my face when a small piece of paper fell from the envelope. As I bent to pick it up I could see that it was a bill.

Yes, seven cents was charged to my account. But then I noticed the total due at the bottom and that smile that left me before came back… upside down.

"There must be some mistake!" I thought aloud.

I waited for an answer, but didn’t know what to say…

I owed three dollars and fifty-eight cents! I went for my coat, psyching myself up to go back to that store to demand an explanation for that extra three dollars and fifty-one cents.

Then I noticed that the total did add up to three dollars and fifty-eight cents! It was a good thing I had noticed this before I marched back down to that store and made a fool of myself.

Sure, they were only charging me seven cents from the other day. But then there is the tax on that seven cents, which brings the total up to eight cents. The other three dollars and fifty cents is for the service charge.




                               A credit to be yours,


èim  Uhr





Now I don't have to worry about having the

correct change when I go to that store. I can

always charge my pens. 



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