Greek-American Stories: Many Happy Returns

All five guys were standing on line to purchase tickets for an upcoming Greek play when Yiannis, seeing the price of the tickets, decided he was thirsty. “We’ll hold your place on line, Yiannis,” Kipreos told Yiannis, who nodded back, though he had no intention of shelling out the stack of dollars for tickets of any kind.”Listen!” he told Kipreos. “See you all back in Dixon’s, later.” Kipreos nodded. He entered the dim lobby where he noticed a vending machine and a customer trying to get a candy bar and nothing came out. Slamming the machine, flushing, he grew annoyed and left. Another customer approached and experienced the same frustrating action, coming away uttering a string of profanity. Watching, Yiannis approached the machine and tapped a button on the side of the machine  that read, ‘Returns’, Suddenly, sounds of metal gurgled, a loud noise issued, and the machine coughed out a noisy pile of quarters.

George, having gotten his tickets, went in search of Yiannis, wondering, “how thirsty can he be?” He was gone for a while now. Inside the lobby he spied Yiannis collecting handfuls of coins, and stuffing them into his pocket. “What’s going on,” wondered George with suspicion. Then, he watched as Yiannis inserted one of those quarters into the slot, pushed a button for a candy bar. Nothing! Neither candy nor the quarter appeared. He tapped the machine and waited. Nothing! Annoyed, he summoned an usher and explained what had happened. The usher led him to a door marked ‘Manager’. Giving the door a hard knock  a gentleman opened the door. “How can I be of service?” asked he. Pointing to the machine, “that vending machine is a thief!” Yiannis explained, loudly, pointing to the culprit. “It’s a one-arm bandit, that’s what! I want my money back!” George watched as the manager and Yiannis approached the offending structure. Just then, he was joined by the others who had gotten their tickets and wondered where George and Yiannis disappeared to. George explained what he’d seen; mentioning the stash of cash Yiannis had collected. “Now, he’s complaining about a quarter he’d put in that wasn’t even his.”  Laughing, Dimos said, “my bet’s on Yiannis.” John, familiar with Yiannis’s penchant toward money, worried he may take it too far and get into trouble. He approached his friends and stood listening. Looking at the group, the manager asked, “oh, my! Are you all together?” John spoke up. “Yes sir. We were on line for tickets for the …” The manager looked at them, closely. They seemed a proper group. He raised his hand and said, “I understand. Well, we’ve been having some trouble with this machine, so, I’ll just have to compensate and apologize for the inconvenience.” He turned and asked, “did you all still want the candy bars? Or, would you prefer getting your money back?” Momentarily confused, no one responded. Snatching at the opportunity, Yiannis responded and, holding out his hand, said, quickly, “we’ll take the money.” Nodding, the manager quickly doled out the coins.

“Here you are, sir!” he said, handing Yiannis five quarters. The others, still confused, watched as the manager left to return to his office. George laughed, “well, Looks like you made a neat profit for yourself, Yiannis.”  Yiannis responded with pomp, “hey! He decided to hand out the five quarters. I didn’t ask for it. I only wanted my quarter back.” George shook his head. ”Your quarter? You mean the one that came with the haul that fell before?” Yiannis paused, realizing George had witnessed his previous bonanza hit. John asked, “what about the tickets for the play?” Recalling the price of the tickets, Yiannis shook his head. “Nah! I have better plans for the cash.” George asked, “like what?” Patting the pocket stuffed with coins, he realized the price of the tickets and the price of coffee and donuts for them all were almost the same, he sighed and thought, “well, easy come, easy go,” and then said out loud, “today, coffee and donuts are ON ME!” Surprised, they gave Yiannis a hearty cheer, then, happily, they headed towards Dixon’s while Yiannis’ fingers were bidding the stash in his pocket a fond ‘goodbye’.


This article is part of a continuing series dealing with reports of Greek POWs in Asia Minor in the Thessaloniki newspaper, Makedonia in July 1936.

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This article is part of a continuing series dealing with reports of Greek POWs in Asia Minor in the Thessaloniki newspaper, Makedonia in July 1936.

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