During the 80's, I had a neighbor next to my place of business, Ned, whom I was quite sure still had the first nickel he ever made. I always had coffee made in the morning, and I would usually bring some donuts or pastries. I don't remember if he first came to my shop asking for a cup and a donut, but he just got used to mooching every morning. Say thank you? No. Bring a bag of ground coffee once in a while? No. Donuts? No. There are two types of tickets, one way, or round trip. Ned always punched the former.
Except once. His reciprocation involved postage stamps. Ned was British, so to him, it was 'stomps', not stamps. More times than I can remember, he came into my office asking,
" John, would you happen to have a stomp for me?" Or, "A few stomps for me?" One time, I did step on his foot, and he quizzically asked why I did it. This stamp business went on for some time, as we 'givers' suffer the 'takers' on minor points like these. After what seemed like the better part of a role of stamps, Ned came in the office one morning (for coffee and donut, of course) waiving a one dollar bill, saying " John, this is for the stomps you've given me."
I didn't keel over, but did manage a 'thank you'. After he left, I pinned the one dollar bill out of reach on the wall over the doorway. Anyone that noticed asked its significance. When I'd say, " That's Ned's gift to me", the response was, "REALLY?!?"
There was a payback for all this cheapness, as Ned was the brunt of more than a few jokes. He couldn't stand any disparaging remarks about the monarchy. One day, I waited for the right moment to spring one on him. I said, "Ned, did you hear that the Queen of England was robbed on a road of her estate at Balmoral?"
He took the bait, frantically asking," I can't believe it! How could this happen? Was she hurt?"
I said that she was fine, that sometimes, she took the car by herself, and drove the back roads of the estate just to get some air and clear her head. Somehow, this man was able to evade security to get on the grounds. Her only comment afterward was something to the effect that she was able to save the diamond tiara that was on the front seat by sticking it between her legs as the highwayman approached the car.
"I only wish I had my sister, Princess Margaret, along, as she might have been able to save the Bentley," she said.
With steam about to escape from his blood red ears, Ned, using that other word for prostitute, said "Princess Margaret is nothing but an 'or', and a disgrace to the crown!", and, 'stomped' out of the office.
We didn't see Ned for a few days, but of course he came back, for his free coffee and donut.
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