Blue Chip Stamps

In one of my stories about my younger days, Shootin the Breeze With Jimmy, I talk about meeting a famous actor while working at the Gulf gas station in Buckeye, Arizona. While we were visiting my old hometown last year, I noticed the Gulf station was no longer there—actually, a lot of things had changed. Time marches on, I reckon.

The Gulf station was owned by a guy named Roger Robideaux, 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 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  cool stuff.

After I’d been working for Roger a few weeks, I noticed 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 idea; 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!

One day, between customers, I was browsing 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 noticed 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 mad, and even when he did, he kept smiling, and made a butt-chewing seem like it wasn’t a big deal.

“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 then said, “Just don’t keep them. Okay?” I guess he thought I wouldn’t understand the concept of Blue Chip Stamps.

Just then, a customer had pulled in, so I slapped the Blue Chip catalogue onto the desk and gave Roger a little salute—I was kind of a smart-aleck 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 handed them to the customer. Then, I held my empty hands up for him to see, and smiled real big for him. Did I mention I was a smart-aleck 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.

 

6 Comments »

  1. Sherry Mashburn said

    I could say you’re still a bit of a smart-aleck sometimes!!!!

  2. Raivenne said

    Oh this took me back! I remember the S&H Green Stamps my grandmother used to collect.

    You a smart-aleck? Naaah!

    Nice story.

  3. Very sweet story. Charles, I wanted to tell you that your link at dVerse is not working. I don’t know if this is what you meant to post but posted link does not lead to anything. k.

    • Thanks for trying to find the post, k! Actually, I pulled the first poem after realizing I’d posted it a few months ago. I’ve posted a new one, if you’d like to take a look at it.

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