Numbersman Admits to Deception
By: Donald J. Schaffer, CPA/ABV, CVA
When I went to apply for the job that Doc Holcomb advertised in the Memphis Press Scimitar, the drug store’s shiny, almost new 1954 Allstate 250 motorcycle was sitting outside. He was looking for a kid to work behind the soda fountain and also deliver prescriptions for Holcomb’s drug store, a venerable institution on the corner of Main and Jackson. I’m now, 55 years later, willing to come clean. I committed fraud in getting that job.
You have to admit that it would be tempting for a 14 year old to bend the truth a bit to get a chance to get a beautiful ride like that bike. It was new, which beat the heck out of the old Cushman I had rebuilt and blown up. It was certainly sexier and more powerful than Billy Hicks’ new Whizzer motorbike that he had let me ride, even after I dumped it in a gravel parking lot. It wasn’t a big heavy bike like the Harley 74 that Mack Mallory, the 250 pound son of our housekeeper Luvenia, challenged me to ride. He got a good laugh watching me try to kick start it, which I couldn’t do with my 100 pound body. But heck, that Allstate, made by Puch, was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. All shiny black with chrome tank sides, it had a “twingle” 250cc two stroke engine that put out some serious horsepower. Besides, since I was the only Jewish boy in Memphis whose mother was not too overprotective. She actually let me ride those dangerous motorized two wheelers, and work on them in her garage. Thanks Mom, before I got that job I had to spend a lot of money on candy, and the results were not nearly as good.
But I digress. When Doc asked me if I knew how to make a malted milk shake, I lied. Then when he said that the job would pay 50 cents per hours, I did not tell him that I was willing to pay him and work behind the soda fountain just for a chance to ride that bike a couple of times an afternoon. And it is said that an act of omission is as bad as one of commission. Doc never asked me the most important question, and I kept my mouth shut. The question he forgot to ask was, “Do you have a driver’s license?” Man, did I love that job. Imagine someone actually paying you to ride his bike, and I didn’t even look like Danica Patrick.
Not everything went well on that gig, however. I was riding past Baptist Hospital one afternoon when a pedestrian started across Madison Street without waiting for the light at the pedestrian crossing to turn green. In Memphis NOBODY jaywalks, so the two cars in front of me paniced and locked up their brakes. Well, I tried to get between the cars but they were too close together and I was just a little too close behind them for those six inch drum brakes to stop me before I put one fist through the tail light of each car. The good news was, I was riding past Baptist Hospital. I just got back on the bike, which had survived without a scratch, turned into the drive and went right to the emergency room to get some plastic picked out of my hands. I can still see the damned scars.
All good things come to an end. After about 6 months of afternoons and weekends happily zipping around town and impressing the girls, Doc asked the fatal question. I don’t know how he found out I was still a half year short of being old enough to drive, but I suspect that I was ratted out by some bastard who wanted to ride my bike.
How did all of these fond memories come tumbling out of my aged brain? I was talking with Bradbury at the Allstate booth at the bike show this winter and they had a pristine 1965 version of my bike right there in the booth. We didn’t have a real camera, but Mike was kind enough to capture my image on his phone standing next to my first love. Ain’t it pretty? Think they will sell me that bike?
Don Schaffer heads the Business Valuation practice at CJBS, LLC. He was awarded a Certificate of Educational Achievement in Business Valuation in 1994 by the Illinois CPA Society, earned his CVA credential from NACVA in 1995, and was one of the first seven CPA’s in Illinois to be Accredited in Business Valuation by the AICPA.