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.