Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Have a Rubber Christmas!


OK, here’s a Christmas story for you, in a warped sort off a way.

When I was about ten years old I was eager, as many children are, to make some money. I was too young to legally work outside of an immediate family business, but fortunately my father had a friend who had no regard for laws of such. His friend, Rocky had occasional seasonal businesses, one of which was selling Christmas trees in the corner of a shopping center lot, and here is where I found myself gainfully employed for a couple weeks one December.

It was pretty easy to pick up. The trees on one rack were $10, the next rack had $15 trees and so on up to about $30. My job was to pull out a tree that the customers wanted to see, Give it a bounce on the ground so the branches would open and to show that the needles weren’t falling out. Then I collected the cash, made change when necessary, and then tied the trees to the customer’s cars. Some customers would grease me with a fifty cents or dollar for doing a good job tying down their trees.

It was winter in New Jersey, which is usually cold. I had a hat and coat and gloves. Rocky had a warming shed at the end of the lot with a kerosene heater inside. When inside I’d throw my gloves near the stove to dry and get warm for the next time I had to go out to sell a tree. Once, my gloves were really wet and I had to use a pair of rubber gloves for a while. When my gloves did dry I placed the rubber gloves by the heater. I went out and sold some trees and when I returned to the shack the gloves had melted and the warming shack smelled of burnt rubber. It was pretty hard to take. Some of the rubber got stuck on the heater so it had to be turned off and removed to cool. The shack door had to be kept open for hours to vent the stink. Everyone was cold that night and it was my fault.

To this day I still think of Christmas any time I smell burning rubber. So much so that a few years back I was visiting a friend’s office. Their office oddly offered their customers free condoms. They had a Christmas tree next to a table that held a basket of condoms in different colored wrappers. I took some Scotch tape and adorned the tree with wrapped condom ornaments.

Rubbers and burning rubber; it all says “Christmas” to me.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Moosehead said...

Funny thing about the power of smells. Borrowing my dad's Toyota one New Year's eve, I picked up a couple of buddies on the way to a party. Funny...it was okay to drink and drive in those days but we were more of the nature to partake in some friendly herbs. Anyway, one buddy had a toothache and had a vial of novacaine to put on his sore tooth. As luck or lack of mental acumen would have it, he put the open vial on the dash and at some point, it tipped over and spilled its contents into the heater vents. Every winter after that, the car smelled like a dentist's office...every time I see a Toyota, I am reminded to make a dental appointment

5:58 AM  
Blogger Hahn at Home said...

Everytime I smell Old Spice or stinky cheap cigars and bourbon, I think of my grandfather.

6:32 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

If this is as close as you're going to get to an anti-Christmas post, it's pretty darn good - and funny.

12:18 PM  
Blogger Mike S said...

One Christmas my ex bought some 'aromatic oil' and a little heater thingie to heat it in. We lived in Japan at the time and she couldn't read the label, but said it smelled good in the store. Apparently what she got was different, as it smelled like a well-composted gym locker. To this day, if I smell dirty, sweaty socks or sneakers, I immdiately think of Christmas in Japan. Great, funny post Guy:)

3:31 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Moosehead, that was probably clove oil. Novocaine doesn't smell. Also Dentists never use Novocain, they use carbocain. Not that I want to correct you, it's just that I haven't been a wise-ass to you for quite a while now, so it was long over due. Great story, by the way.

Lori, so is that a fond memory?

Beth, I'm glad it hit the mark for you because I'm fresh out nasty this year.

Mike, maybe it was sashimi juice.

4:47 PM  
Anonymous gearhead said...

Everytime I smell raw gasoline it reminds me of when I was a kid back in 1969.
All of my little buddys & I would ride our minibikes to the gas station on Saturday morning.
Gas was selling for $.24 - $.28 a gallon at that time.
There was a short period in which all of the local small filling stations were stabbing each other in the back in a nasty price war and the price actually hit $.15 a gallon.
Now if you can imagine a kid pushing an minibike with a 1/3 gallon gas tank into a station asking for a fillup when the price was $.15 you get the picture of why we all rolled in at the same time.
26 motorcycles later; I still t4rip back to those days...

9:30 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

What, you didn't have a gas can at home?

5:55 AM  
Blogger Melly/Melody/or Mel said...

My mom smoked Chesterfields when we were young. We'd go to church on Christmas eve and she'd chew spearmint gum so nobody could smell the cigs on her breath. Spearmint gum and the smell of cig smoke reminds me of church on Christmas eve...and mom.

12:35 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Mel, are they fond memories?

5:02 PM  

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