A coworker of mine complained about a deck of Hoyle playing cards that was missing the Ace of Spades. I sent this on 2/23/1996.
High stakes. It was my fourteenth summer. My buddies and I discovered poker--we played every Friday night. We really thought we owned the world. Remember that movie, Stand By Me? That was us--Kevin was our leader, wise in the ways of the world, and my best friend.
On our paper route, people would claim that they had no money to pay. Ol’ Kevin decided to wait for the pizza delivery boy to pull up, and we’d get to the front porch first. Like a lot of kids, Kevin came up with the idea of recycling our leftover newspapers by the pound for tickets to sporting events, but only Kevin thought of wetting the newspapers to make them heavier. Afterwards, we’d take some of our earnings and split a grape soda.
On my fourteenth birthday, Kevin gave me a brand new watch, engraved with “Jer & Kev, Buddies Forever.” He announced that he had taken a job with the local auto dealership--Hal Burton’s Used Cars. Later on that year, Kevin was smothered on Hal’s roof, under the weight of one of those huge inflatable gorilla things that they stick on top of auto dealerships to draw business. Hal claimed no responsibility, and to this day, I despise that two-bit, penny pinching bastard.
We still play poker--at higher stakes. We’ve opened our games up to whoever wants to play, and a few Fridays ago, Hal Burton stopped by with a pocketful of greenbacks. A master card player, he managed to empty everyones’ pockets--except mine. An irreverent man, he continuously made references to Kevin, and the manner by which he perished. In any event, it came down to the final hand--a showdown between Hal and me.
I had every penny on the table, and when Hal upped the ante, I had to put Kevin’s watch down. I was safe--with the ten, jack, queen, and king of spades in my hand. I took one card, a four of hearts. Dammit--where was that ace? When he called, I unveiled my cards, disappointed as I was. He had a royal flush--in hearts. I became ill as I watched him put my watch on. As I searched the deck--a brand new Hoyle, I found no ace of spades. What’s the deal? How can I be expected to play cards without the ace?
With each new spring, I stand on the front porch, Java in hand, and welcome the April mornings, with the rising sun glistening through the dew drops, and the robins chirping in our birch. I cannot help but think of Kevin. His loud, almost forced giggle, his reassuring words after being cut from the wrestling squad, the way he could make me laugh in catechism without even saying a word. I’ll never forget him. He was irreplaceable.
These days, I work two evenings a week at Hal’s dealership, trying to pay back the debt I owe. I can’t help but feel that this is partly your responsibility. Please send a written explanation as to how the card could be missing.
Deal With Me,
Follow-up, sent 4/25/1996:
Dear 52 Pick-Em-Uppers:
There are only a few things in life that I can’t stand:
1) That friend, who, when you’re moving a refrigerator, says “it’s not heavy, it’s just awkward.”
2) When someone steps on the back of my shoe, rendering me immobile.
3) When I want to sneeze, but can’t.
4) Any urinal conversation.
5) When a company fails to respond to a concern with one of their products in timely fashion.
Back in February, I wrote to you about a brand new deck of your cards, which, during a high stakes poker game, was found to be missing the Ace of Spades! The result: my arch-nemesis--my personal Darth Vader Figure-- owns two nights per week of my life at his auto dealership; and my engraved watch, which was given to me by my friend who died because of “Darth.”
All I asked for was a written response as to how you could sell a deck missing the Ace of Spades. Is it a cost saving idea? 51 cards? Why not start with the Jokers. I don’t understand. Maybe someone else got an extra ace. This other guy probably just bought a house on the rich side of town, because he won his poker game. Maybe someday I can work for him. Maybe he can give me a little tiny raise, so I can put bread on my table instead of cat food, and buy schoolbooks for my children.
In the meantime, I’m going to load up my van and drive to Washington, D.C. To lobby support for the illegalization of
A) The inflatable animals which companies use to promote business (and smother my best friend, Kevin, to death).
B) The illegalization of spandex--if a few bad apples can’t realize that they should not wear it, then they’re going to spoil it for the rest of us.
I am asking again for your written response--a summary explaining the reason for 51 cards instead of 52. Please note that I have moved since my last letter.
No Trace of Ace,
P.S. If you find my ace laying around, enclose it with your written explanation
Hoyle Products' Response, sent May 14, 1996.
We are in receipt of both of your letters regarding your defective deck of playing cards.
We apologize for not being able to respond to your letters until now. Usually we respond within a two week time frame, but we have been very very busy. All our products do come fully guaranteed.
Under a separate cover, we are sending replacements for your defective deck.
Sorry to hear about your dear friend Kevin, good friends are hard to replace. Hope your Washington trip was successful. A nice tribute in Kevin’s honor.
Hope life is kinder in the future and you are able to win your treasured watch back. We also hope your debt with the dealership is coming to an end too. We appreciate your interest in Hoyle Products.