WELCOME TO $AVE-$OME-CA$H (A WORK OF FICTION IN PROGRESS). Written 2003, published at Facebook, November 20, 2010 as Welcome to Waldo’s World, rewritten 2011.
Every school kid studying Business History at New Cambridge High knows the story of Otto Van Douchebaum, of how in the 1940s, he started the first Van Douchebaum Emporium in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Despite the secrecy of his private life, we know that Van Douchebaum was a jovial man who dressed in top hat and pinstripes every day and personally greeted his customers at the front door. Within the workings of that store, he hired the cheapest labor to sell the cheapest made products at the cheapest prices. From farm equipment to household appliances, from clothing to radios to toys, he happily guaranteed everything with a money back endorsement. Cheap became popular and Otto became a millionaire two years later. His success and wealth put him among high standing with the editors of American business magazines and made him popular among senators.
To compete with the sudden rush of copycat stores and to accommodate family and friends living in other parts of the United States, Otto Van Douchebaum built more Van Douchebaum stores. By 1955, he’d become a billionaire and his reputation as a wise industrialist had spread to other industrial countries. Among his achievements, he was one of the first to incorporate plastic into his products. The following year, he added groceries to his stores. Then barbershops and hair salons the year after that. He even opened the first gas station at his Michigan store. The popularity spread until every Van Douchebaum Emporium was filling gas tanks with Van Douchebaum premium.
Otto Van Douchebaum married his boyhood sweetheart Polly Umber in 1960. Waldo Umber Van Douchebaum was born in 1961 and the Van Douchebaums lived a luxurious life while Otto searched for cheaper ways to build products to sell at his stores. It was while vacationing in Tokyo during the summer of 1967 that Otto and Polly vanished. Rumor says he was searching for a cheaper and stronger plastic, as well as promoting his stores to the Japanese government. He did purchase a yacht, which he was sailing on Tokyo Bay when he, his wife, and the yacht disappeared. Popular rumor says pirates boarded his yacht and whisked them away to parts unknown. Less popular rumors say aliens abducted them in a UFO—yacht included.
In any case, the Van Douchebaum stores floundered until Waldo turned 18 in 1979 and legally inherited his father’s enterprise. The first thing Waldo did was close all the stores. Then he sold the trademarked name to a group of meat packers from Connecticut that now sell Van Douchebaum Emporium wieners and bologna worldwide.
In 1985, Waldo built his own chain of stores called $ave-$ome-Ca$h. Though not as successful as his father’s stores, Waldo hired the cheapest labor to sell the cheapest made products at the cheapest prices, which appeased American shoppers, business magazine editors, and senators. Despite its flashing dollar-signs name, $ave-$ome-Ca$h spread to smaller cities. It came to the outskirts of my hometown of New Cambridge, Pennsylvania, in 1997, and I stumbled into employment there two years later while I was a tenth grader at New Cambridge High. My life has never been the same since.