(A true story.)
Far, far to the north of where I live — up close to the North Pole, seemingly — is the small Texas panhandle town of Dumas. It’s north of Amarillo; on the way to New Mexico and Colorado. We drive through Dumas going to and from our ski trip each year.
The town (pronounced by the locals as “Doo-mus”) always intrigued our daughters when they were teenagers, mainly because of a sign at each side of town proclaiming that we were entering the “Home of the Ding Dong Daddy.”
Get the picture? It’s a small town at the intersection of two main highways. The streets run north-south and east-west, and there aren’t all that many of them.
(Oh, by the way, the “Ding Dong Daddy” is a reference to a 1940’s song called, “I’m a Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas.” You’ve heard that, right? Right. This seems to be the town’s only claim to fame (?).)
(One more side note: remember that line from the movie “Shawshank Redemption” where a prison inmate struggles to pronounce the name of the author of “The Count of Monte Cristo” — Alexandre Dumas — and says, “Alexan-dree, uh, Dumbass?”)
Well, my daughters took to calling the town “Dumbass, Texas.” Then it became a joke among their friends. When anyone was observed doing or saying something really stupid, one of that crowd could be depended upon to remark, “You must be from Dumas.” Everyone would get it and laugh.
That’s the background; here’s the story: A few years ago my daughter Amy (married, and traveling on a driving vacation with her husband and a couple of adult friends Rob and Daryl) stopped at a convenience store in Louisiana. They bought snacks and drinks, and the total came to $15.93. Rob handed the clerk a twenty and a one, thinking to get back a five and some coins.
The gal, late teens or early 20s by the look of her, stared at the $21. She looked back at the register, saw the total of $15.93, thought for a moment, and then offered Rob back the one dollar bill. He held up his hand and said, being helpful, “No, keep it. That way I’ll get back a five, plus seven cents.”
She stared at him, the money, and the register. She put the one dollar bill on the counter and entered as cash tendered $20. The register informed her that the change would be $4.07.
She counted out the $4.07 onto the counter, while Amy and the others watched in amusement. Then she picked up Rob’s one dollar bill, put it with the other four one dollar bills, put them all into the register and produced a five dollar bill. With a proud smile, she handed Rob his $5.07.
Knowing he would get a laugh, or at least a snicker, from the others, Rob smiled at her and said, “You must be from Dumas.”
Her smile turned to one of amazement, and she exclaimed, “Why, yes!! How did you EVER know?”
Rob held his smile fixed on his face, having no idea how to respond to that. The other three travelers snorted their soft drinks through their noses. They were still convulsed an hour down the road, asking each other, “How did you EVER know?”