“PAY NOW, SUCKER”: WORKING AT THE COIN STORE

Congratulations on your tax return!  What do you want to spend that money on?  Instead of blowing it on something useless like canned food or firearms, why not spend it on something that will surely be useful when it all goes down, coins!  You check out the pawn shop but the only gold they sell is in the form of a chain, and you already have plenty of second hand leaf blowers and DVDs of your favorite 2000s comedies at home.  Time to go into the belly of the beast itself, the coin shop! Having spent some time working in a coin shop, I’ve seen a lot of cheats and scams walk in.  They then sit down behind the counter where they cheat and scam their customers.  Being formerly located in the high desert of southern California before its owners demise, you get a fun mix of people who would come in.  Here are some of the more interesting ones that make up the community of the Mos Eisley aliens that frequent the coin stores:

1. Lonely Old Men

Mostly everyone that comes in is craving some kind of human connection.  Old bachelors, guys that need a break from their nagging wives, weirdos that hang out at the library all day,  these are some of the many regulars that come in just to talk, get some free coffee, and maybe even buy something, but usually just get the free coffee.  If you can shame them into buying something though then you can offload any kind of garbage onto them.  The As Seen On TV specials, all 50 of the state quarters in a shadow box for just 50 dollars, East German coinage that might make a comeback, buy it from us and we’ll always be your friend!

2. Little Old Lady

In the industry, these are known as LOL’s.  They also have the power to make any coin store worker’s eyes turn into giant neon green dollar signs like Scrooge McDuck.  Often times they are looking for a present for their grandkids, which inevitably will get sold back to the store in a few years.  We also keep some decks of baseball cards on hand to sell them because they think their grandkid is an eight year old little leaguer like the kid on the phones for seniors commercial.  

3. Thieves (Not the ones behind the counter)

After going to the pawn shop and selling the bikes they stole from ten-year-olds, the scum and villainy of the desert come by to sell anything else shiny they plundered.  They don’t haggle for the price, either way they come out ahead, and with our no questions asked policy everyone leaves home a winner! 

4. Celebs

Do you like Magic Johnson?  Well too bad, he goes to the better coin store in LA.  But once he dies, it’s a guarantee his ungrateful kids will come by here to sell his silver collection!  Being in the outer (very outer) proximity of Hollywood, we get the B actors that you might recognize from Law and Order and Seinfeld, and once they get their residual checks from the reruns, they stop by here to cash out while their shows are still on tv.  If you want to see some real celebrities though, go to the pawn shops in the next town over. These washed-up wretches will sell movie memorabilia and old sports rings, try and catch a sight of them before they hide their face in shame as they dash for their car!  

5. Regular Joes

The owner loves the dumb and the old, but people like me who work there part time love these guys.  They come in, know what they want, and leave.  No drama, no yelling, no sob story about how grandpa gave you that silver dollar on his deathbed.  They’re in and out and they go back to their wholesome lives.

6. Druggies

Similar to the stolen goods people, they try to sell us stuff they pilfered, but because of the drugs, they try and sell us car parts and anything in their pockets.  The farther out in the desert they live the more interesting the pockets.  You biked from California City?  Then expect a garden hose stolen from someone’s lawn.  You took the bus from Trona?  Looks like someone is about to see a magic lamp!

7. Newbs

No, the quarter that says 1776-1976 isn’t actually from 1776.  Yes, your silver dollar from 1923 is worth one US dollar, but since we’re nice, we’ll give you TWO dollars for it!  These people are usually the ones whose loving uncle just died and left them their entire collection so you can sell it for pennies on the dollar and spend it at the funk-o store down the street.  They might get mad at first when they think what they have is worth a small fortune, which it usually is, but it’s our job to talk them down.  Usually though you just get more nuts.  “See this penny I found? It’s a double dye, I can tell!”.  Come back when you have a cool garden hose to sell us.

Working behind the counter for a few years was a real eye opener.  When your bosses are the closest thing to Scrooge and Marley and they have a license to steal, it drains the life from you.  You do make some friends though, and you hear some interesting stories from the regulars, most of whom would be more fun to hang out with than your coworkers.  So the next time you find yourself on the outskirts of a large city in a dumpy desert town, feel free to parous and prod through a coin store, and if you plan on buying anything put on a poncho before you get hosed!

— GH