Saturday, September 10, 2011


Star Wars went from being "just a movie" to Phenomenon with alarming expedience. I was 6 and I saw it 4 times in a month. As my father was quick to remind us he wasn't made of money, money didn't grow on trees, and that if you didn't quit your crying he'd give you something to cry about. I was never clear on this last point as it seemed self defeating but I never challenged it as I was sure his explanation would be non-verbal. So, I was on my own to raise funds for these repeat viewings of Lucas' seminal masterpiece.

Being a resourceful lad, I decided to take a page from the Old Man's book and get into sales. My first venture involved a garage sale, something I was quite familiar with, as my mother used to drag me around the neighborhood junk circuit with painful frequency. She would map out a route using the Classifieds like she was Magellan in a beehive and crepe soled shoes. "One man's trash is another man's treasure" was her motto. Other pearls she would impart included "Waste not want not" and vague references to starving children in Africa. The Holiday favourite "Wait til your father gets home" was much less vague when she discovered my unsanctioned garage sale included her new Hoover, my father's golf clubs, and my chubby brother's summer wardrobe. I didn't get it, I thought the Old Man would be proud that I had grasped the core fundamentals of sales at such a tender age. Without spending a dime of my own funds on overhead I had managed to make a tidy profit for myself: two whole dollars! I was promptly subject to a hostile takeover, losing all proceeds and access to inventory, not to mention the hiding of a lifetime.

Not one to be disheartened by this fiscal setback I set out again immediately with a new enterprise: newspaper delivery. Not being of age to gain employment from one of the major corporations I struck out on my own as an Independent. I called my organization "Yesterday's News". Lacking in capital, I scoured the neighboring surveys on garbage day and loaded my brother's Radio Flyer with the communities discarded news publications, making detailed mental note of who subscribed to what, and then went door to door trying to sell last weeks Globe to the house that read the Star, the Star to the Sun reader, and so on. Following this was a failed attempt at a landscaping contract, however every time I ran over someone's extension cord with the electric mower they seemed reticent to release payment for partial services rendered. At one point I even made a detailed plan for bank heist, detailed being 3 green plastic army men, an empty toilet paper roll, and a toy Ford Gran Torino from Starsky and Hutch. Having neither a Starsky nor a Hutch as a getaway driver became problematic and the plan was scrapped.

Then one day, watching my mother don the rubber gloves to clean up the mud I had tracked into the kitchen when I had "claimed" a dog from the forest behind my school (that's another story altogether. I named him Jack), inspiration hit me like a slap across the face with a stack of wet five dollar bills: Sanitation Engineering. Using my brother's school pencil crayons, I selected the then politically correct and widely accepted Flesh and Indian Red and hastily made some homemade business cards and left them in the mailboxes of a dozen carefully selected senior citizens from the neighboring blocks.

And then I waited. 
And waited. 
And on the third day, it being a Sunday, I rose, extra early, and carefully cradling a carton of eggs under one arm I peddled back to the 'old folks' part of town and drive-by egged every Lincoln and Caddy on the street, and was home in time for The Hilarious House of Frightenstein.

And so Handy Dandy Spic and Span Car Washing Inc. was born. 

And that's how I funded 4 outings to a galaxy far, far away.

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