The Coke Box

In the Chinese tradition, it is expected for family members to pitch in and work at the family business.  As with many Asian families, this was the cafe.

At our cafe, we were always well-stocked with all the chocolate bars, potato chips, pop, and cigarettes.  It was my job to work at the cash register and handle the sales of these well-stocked items.

I was very proficient in making change for these purchased items.  If you gave me a one dollar bill for items totaling thirty-five cents, I knew exactly what change to give back without having to use a calculator.  35 cents, one nickel = 40 cents, one dime = 50 cents, two quarters = 1 dollar.  Easy Peasy!  Why I failed miserably in math?…I have no idea.

In those days, 35 cents could get you a bottle of pop, a bag of chips and a bag of jelly beans.  A large pack of cigarettes was 25 cents and the small pack was 20 cents.   You can guess by now that I’m going back to the early 60s.  I would have been about seven or eight years old.  Too short behind the cash machine my chin could touch the top of the counter.  Therefore, I used a wooden Coke Box  exactly like the one you see at the bottom of the pile in this picture.

Flipped over, I stood on the bottom of the box.  From there, I could reach behind me for any pack of smokes and hand them to the buyer.  The gentlemen who made the purchases were so confident in me, they didn’t even have to tell me what type of cigarettes they wanted.  I would have the pack in their hands before they could say “Boo”.  What a hustler!

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