Blue Chip Stamps

In my story, Shootin the Breeze With Jimmy, I mentioned working at the Gulf gas station in Buckeye, Arizona. I was out of high school, and was bouncing around from job to job, trying to find a good one. Good jobs were scarce in the little farm community, and I finally had to move to the big city of Phoenix. At that time—the late sixties/early seventies, the big city on ly had a population of 500,000 or so. It’s grown just a wee bit since then.

But, I want to tell you another funny story about the gas station. It was owned by a guy named Roger Robideaux (not sure of the spelling) and he was a really great guy. I loved working for him, because he was always upbeat and excited about life in general.

Back then, most gas stations gave out “stamps” with each purchase. Customers could save up the stamps—there was usually a book they could paste them into—and when they had enough of them, they could take them to the Green Stamp, or Blue Chip Stamp, store, and trade them for merchandise. The stores sold all kinds of stuff.

After I’d been working for Roger a few weeks, I noticed that a lot of people didn’t want the stamps; too much trouble I guess; saving them, licking them, driving into Phoenix to the stamp store. Then, I got this fabulous thought; if somebody said they didn’t want the stamps, I would keep them! Holy cow!

It wasn’t long until I had a mess of Blue Chip stamps, and we were off to the Blue Chip Stamp Store, where I got an eight-track tape player for my car, an electric mixer, for the little wife, and a few other assorted items. This stamp collecting was the racket!

I was working one day, and in between customers, I’d browse through the Blue Chip catalogue, trying to figure out what I wanted to get next, and how many stamps I’d need. Roger came in, and saw what I was looking at.

“That reminds me,” he said. “When a customer says they don’t want their Blue Chip stamps, what do you do?”

I smiled like the genius I thought I was, figuring even Roger hadn’t thought of this brilliant scheme. “I keep them,” I said. I raised the catalogue up and added, “You can get lots of neat stuff!”

“Don’t do that!” he said. He was kind of excited, and maybe a little bit mad, but it was hard to tell with Roger. He never really got that mad, and even when he did, he kept smiling, and made a butt-chewing seem like it wasn’t that bad.

“How come?” I said.

He did a little jig and rolled his eyes then said, “Because I have to buy the stamps!”

That made no sense at all to my nineteen-year-old brain. “Then why do you give them away?”

He went over and hit the wall with his hand, danced a little more and smiled real big—I got the feeling it was his I’m-getting-mad-now-smile—and said, “Just don’t keep them. Okay?” I got the feeling he thought maybe I wouldn’t understand the concept of Blue Chip Stamps, but I was already getting a pretty good idea how it worked.

The bell rang, signaling a customer had pulled into the station, so I slapped the Blue Chip catalogue onto the desk and gave Roger a little salute—I was kind of a smart-ass sometimes—said, “Got it, chief,” then went to wait on the customer.

After I’d filled the customer’s tank, I asked them if they wanted their Blue Chip stamps. The lady said, “I sure do. You can get lots of nice stuff with those stamps.”

I grinned and said, “Yeah, I heard about that.” After I got the stamps, I looked over at the office and saw Roger watching me. When I got to the driver’s window, I made a big show of holding the stamps up where he could see them, then slowly handing them to the lady in the car. Then, I held my empty hand sup for him to see, and smiled real big for him. Did I mention I was a smart-ass sometimes?

Roger smacked himself in the forehead with the palm of his hand then did one of his little dancing fits. He was a cool guy to work for, ol’ Roger.


  1. Sherry Mashburn said

    I think this is why it would not be a good idea for us to work together!!

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