I'm sitting here in front of my computer, and I don't really know how to begin. I guess I could just say "Dude, I am so excited, this is so freaking unbelievable," that I am flabbergasted. I just had to share this with you guys. I'm going to have my work cut out for me, though, because I can tell you from the outset - and I'd be willing to wager six months salary on this - that you are NOT going to believe what happened to me today.
First, let me inform you that you're going to think "this is a practical joke." The further you read, the more you're going to feel like "this can't be for real, it's got to be an April Fool's Day prank." Well, Pilgrim, let me assure you it's not a prank, though it might very well seem to be that way to you because, frankly, what I'm about to tell you is so unbelievable, so absurd, as to sound preposterous.
I am not going to wait until 4/01/2010 to post this. It is not a gag, this is for real, but you're still not going to take me seriously. "Impossible," you'll declare, and that's the precise reason I'm prefacing this story with these several paragraphs - to sincerely attempt to persuade you of the authenticity of my tale - it's just that you aren't going to believe me.
My hope is that I can convince you that this did happen, so that you may partake of the same pleasure that I experienced without letting doubt transform to disbelief and spoil your enjoyment. I shouldn't even be taking the time to write this, I should be headed back to the credit union to see if they have any more rolls. Normally, I wouldn't look through customer-wrapped rolls (CWR's) for silver dimes, quarters, and halves, but today I think I'll make an exception.
This is what happened. I'd been lurking on realcent for awhile, reading about everybody that goes to credit unions and picks up CWR's of coins, after which they subsequently describe in glowing prose the delights they've discovered. I thought about doing that myself, but the credit union is fairly distant from where I live, and I haven't had the time. I've been too busy working, and lately, writing.
But this morning I had some free time, so I thought to myself "why not try it out?" I hadn't been to the Fire Department Credit Union - I retired as a firefighter in July of this year after 34 years of service - since probably 2005, so first we had to catch up on the "hi's," the "how ya doin's," and finally "how are you enjoying your retirement?" Then I was able to come to the point of my visit. I asked them if they had any CWR's that I could buy.
Amanda, the teller, is hot - she kinda looks like Cameron Diaz - so you can understand why I always try and flirt with her. Of course, what chance does an old fart like me have of picking up a young thirty-something chick like that?
Could my physical charisma, cosmopolitan charm, and scintillating repartee attract a woman like that? Or would she be repulsed by my triple threat? Fat, bald, and ugly, I've got 'em all. Maybe I would just have to pull out my vial - that I save for special occasions like this - of pig urine pheromones and dab it on my neck?
Anyway, Amanda reaches into her drawers (oh, how many times have I wished I could do that?) and pulls out several rolls of pennies, two with the oldest wrappers I've ever seen. They were like something from the 50's, if you can imagine that. I looked on ebay and they had some that were similar.
"I've got six," she says, laying them on the counter, "how many do you want?" Eying them covetously, my hand trembling imperceptibly from the effort to subdue the sudden compulsion to thrust my arm out and snatch them immediately I say "I'll take all of them," mentally salivating as I speak. I was temporarily captivated by the older rolls, thinking "wahoo, I might be having Wheaties for breakfast!"
I couldn't wait, would you be able to? So when I got back to my car I had to peek into one of the rolls. What I saw took my breath away! It literally made me gasp. Again, you're going to think "dream on," but I swear - believe it or not - the obverse of a toned wheatie in incredible MS65 condition was staring back at me!
"Yes," I thought, "Score!" Or, as Megaman would put it, "Money!" I screeched out of the parking lot and would have laid rubber if my car was capable of it. I wanted to get home as fast as I could and find out what else might be buried in the rest of my potential little treasure trove.
I was in such haste, that I drove for two miles before I remembered to put on my seatbelt. Luckily, there were no coppers around (I couldn't resist, hehehe - insert broad-smilie face here).
I got home, pulled into the garage, and ran into my apartment.
I wasn't worried about making a mess, I was so amped up that I just swept the crap that was atop my kitchen table - some papers, unopened mail, partially sorted piles of pennies (my wheatie pile that I haven't checked for good dates yet), and some candy wrappers - onto the floor. Okay, so I'm exaggerating, I put the wheaties in a Tupperware container first.
Then I got to work. Call me masochistic, but I wanted to save the best for last. I made myself open the regular rolls first. I was thinking "I don't want to be disappointed if there was only one good coin in the whole roll of the older-wrapped pennies." But, Buster, let me tell you, I wasn't disappointed.
Have you ever had one of those dreams where you swear that you're awake, but you aren't? Then later on you wake up, dumbfounded at how realistic it seemed? You would absolutely swear that you were wide-awake, but then you do wake up and recognize the reality. That's almost what it seemed like to me at this point, that I was dreaming. I pinched myself to make sure that I was awake.
So I start impatiently going through the first four rolls of pennies. Not too surprisingly, I found the usual for my region, about eighteen percent copper and the rest zincs. I did find one wheatie. Some of the early memorials were in good condition, a few beaming with a rich reddish-coppery lustre. And then, drum rolls please, I opened the next roll.
"Voila," smirks the magician, as he pulls the white wriggling bunny out of his black hat. I could not believe it! My eyes were bulging out of their sockets. Every penny in the roll was a wheatie. And not just any old wheatie. Most of them - to my untrained eye -were at least MS63's, and there were several that might grade as high as MS65's! I was amazed.
I'm telling you the honest-to-God's truth; I couldn't dream this stuff up if I tried. There were even one or two "could-be" MS67's. Now, I'm new at Lincolns' - my experience is mostly with Barber dimes for the most part - so maybe you would grade them a little lower, but right now I'm thinking that I'm just going to send some of the better dates to PCGS and let them decide. They charge so much, though, that I can't afford to send them all.
Getting back to the story, this next part is even crazier. It felt like I was in an episode of The Twilight Zone, because as I shook them out of the roll and fanned them, they spread out in the same fashion in which they'd been inserted, which was - from my perspective - face down. When I turned them over, one at a time - with the care of an archaeologist uncovering the skull of a new species homo cuprum - I was truly astounded.
These weren't newer wheaties! I don't know if I have the words to adequately express how it felt, but I'll try. My heart was beating so hard that I could feel my pulse in my ears! These rolls must have come straight out of someone's coin collection because, in consecutive order, I found the ENTIRE series of Lincoln cents, starting from 1909 - and including the 1909-S and 1909-S VDB - and all the other key dates (1914-D, 1922, and 1931-S) as well.
I am NOT dreaming this drivel up, I swear on a stack of Bibles. The first roll went up to 1926-D, and the second one continued with 1926-S and ended at 1944-S. You want to hear something truly bizarre? There weren't any steelies. Go figure, does that make any sense? The best coins in the series and this wacko holds onto the steelies? This guy must live only in fantasies or something.
About this time some thoughts occurred to me. How come there weren't any more recent dates? Did this guy stop collecting in 1944? How come - if someone turned these in, even if they were stolen - they were in old wrappers and not new ones? Coins like these should have been in an album, or slabbed, not in rolls. All the questions made it a nightmare for me.
So then I started wondering "hey, I got all the rolls of pennies in Amanda's drawer, right?" What happened to 1945 on? If there had been more, did this mean that someone else had gotten there before me? If so, if that were the case then the odds favored that whoever the lucky stiff was, he wouldn't even know what he had and would probably just use them as change. Then it occurred to me, so that's how cool stuff probably winds up in the rolls that other people on realcent like to brag about finding.
Those were my random musings. As I was mulling this over suddenly I was overcome by a terrible thought. "What if this really is someone's collection," I thought, horrified, a sense of dread spreading over me. "What if they realize what they had done and they came back and wanted it returned?" Amanda would hardly forget selling them to me. "Crap," I thought, "if that happens do I have to give them back?" Possession is nine-tenths of the law, right?
That pretty much ruined it for me. I was having mixed emotions - greed and glee on the one part - versus a little bit of guilt on the other. All these thoughts had flashed through my mind in milliseconds, and I realized I'd been holding my breath. It took a few moments, but my pulse finally settled, and I went to the fridge, cracked open a can of icy cold Diet Coke, and thought about what I should do.
The next thing I did was to call the credit union. The person I wanted to talk with answered the phone. "Hey Mandy," I asked, "what's the story on those penny rolls I just bought from you?" "There were a few (okay, so I fibbed a little) older pennies in two of the rolls?" "Hmmm," she answered, seemingly distracted.
She paused for a moment then responded "those rolls? Those were from a bunch of stuff Emil Swollenski brought in last week. It was so weird, did you hear what happened? I just read in the paper that he died, the very next day!" Though her voice dropped to a whisper it couldn't hide her flair for the melodramatic as she emphasized "the very... next... day." Did I explain that Amanda is a blonde?
Old Man Swollenski, now there was a blast from the past. That's what we used to call him - Old Man - when I was a rookie on the fire department, and he was a fossil even then. He had to be, what, forty-five? Swollenski was one of my captains during my first year on the job and, trust me, he wasn't fun to train under. The guy could make Captain Queeg from the Caine Mutiny look like Barney Fife.
What I'm going to tell you next is strangely ironic, eerie if you think about it. During the year I was under probation, Old Man would have to grade me each month, and he would ask me questions about my hobbies and off-duty interests. It wasn't as if he wanted to get to know me better, he just probably wanted to get me talking so that I would open up and confess my sins.
So on this one occasion we're talking and I'm telling him how coin collecting had always been a fascination of mine, that it was a fun hobby, but that it could get expensive if you decided that you wanted to make money from it by investing in rare coins, the ones that were hardest to find. I also implied that if he wanted to collect the common dates as well, he would do best to purchase them in the most pristine condition he could afford.
After all that, the profound words of wisdom of a still-wet-behind-the-ears whippersnapper, what did he do? All he did was humpf and say "sure, Kid." The guy was an insufferable, arrogant Drill Master, but I guess my idea must have germinated within him, getting under his skin way back then in 1973. "Hah," I'm thinking now, "take that, Loser!"
That just about wraps up my story. This is the point in my narration where I have to tell you that I've been less than honest. I hope admitting this doesn't spoil it for you, but my discovery wasn't perfect. None of the pennies are what you would refer to as BU, although they are most certainly uncirculated. And... no bright red coppers in the whole bunch. Damn, just my luck.
Although both rolls were seemingly untouched by human hands, the individual pennies are all toned the same olive-brownish hue you're typically accustomed to. And, here's the worst part. The 1909-S VDB? It's probably only in AU condition. The 1914-D might pass as a slider MS60 - a dealer would likely attempt to sell it that way - but then certify that if was only a MS55 if you wanted to sell it back. The same with the other two key dates. "Crum," I thought, "can't I ever catch a break?"
So, that's the whole story. As I've impressed upon you throughout, the entire time I was experiencing this I just kept beseeching "please, please, please, please, please God, don't let this be a dream?"
But, then... I woke up.
The author apologizes for being a dastardly villain and not waiting until April Fool's Day to post this, but it would have been too obvious. Even though this is fiction, it's probably the closest we'll ever get to experiencing what some lucky whoreson would feel if it really happened to them. The author admits to having had a lot of fun writing this piece.