Jeffrey Meranto. .My Best Worst Day, “Sam I Am. .”

Typical Prison Cell in America

As I read the news a few days ago I noticed that Electrolux had acquired part of G.E. as in General Electric. The large corporation that manufactures every appliance one needs for today’s home, from refrigerators to stoves and washing machines and all things in between. The name Electrolux rang a bell in my head. Electrolux the manufacturer of vacuum cleaners sold quite often door to door by down on their luck types trying to hustle some homeowner into purchasing one of their latest models. So many bells were ringing in my head that I a got a headache thinking back not so many days before.

                                                       Stress The Big Killer

While serving my sentence for Marijuana I was diagnosed with Cancer and transferred to a medical unit for treatment.

“Stress, my good man. Stress is a killer. This is why, in my humble opinion, you have Cancer.” So stated my Doctor as he pinched, probed, and otherwise examined me that day.

My Doctor was from India, he stood something under 5 feet tall and came complete with multi-colored Turban, white lab coat cut in a Nehru style, and a red dot in the middle of his forehead. In his office he wore small yellow and red colored slippers that looked to be made of velvet. His highly polished wingtips sat on a shelf where he would occasionally pick one up to brush off a speck of dust or pluck some something from inside it. His gloved hands would then inspect the shoe place it back on the shelf and he would silently glide back before me and continue with his examination of me, his patient. “Please to be sticking your tongue out and open wide your mouth,” his fingers moments before handling his shoes now inside my mouth. My thoughts went to pictures I had seen of the hordes of people washing in the filth of the Ganges river but, I was too weak from the Chemo to complain.

“You must to be cautious of stress, my good man,” the Doctor went on fingers deep inside my mouth. “People in my country live in poverty of the worst sort and they live to be 80, 90, even over 100 years of age. Why, I am asking of you, Why and how? Stress I say to you, they have much less stress than you in your country.” His fingers ever in my mouth raising my level of stress until his India dialect and banter somehow mesmerised me into submissive bliss and my thoughts went to my buddy Joe Taco who had just the year before “retired early” from his prison sentence due to Cancer.

Enter Sam The Scam

Later I discovered myself back in my cell wrapped up in my painful delirium as my cell door slid open and the words “Hey buddy, hi. Sam I Am,”  rang out from the mouth of my new cell mate. The cell we lived in was designed for one person with no room to spare. Sam drug his mattress inside the cell then the cell door shut and for the next 8 or 9 months he became my daily entertainment.

I had never met Sam before but, I had heard about him from my first cell mate, “Bits and Pieces.” Bits and Pieces had told me a tale of how he and Sam had years before run a mail order business from inside of prison where they would sell, through the mail, coupons provided free by any number of large Casinos in Las Vegas.

Sam’s wife lived in Las Vegas, she would gather coupons for everything from free drinks, discounts for Top Name Acts on The Strip, to price discounts for rooms then Sam would have her take out ads in a variety of magazines selling them “At Discounted Package Prices.” Bits and Pieces worked in the prison print shop where he would reproduce all the coupons and even crop in pictures of Sam in an assortment of flyers and they would package it all up send it to Sam’s wife and she would mail these “Discount Packages” to anyone who mailed in the $9.99 they were selling it for. According to Bit and Pieces, they made “A KILLING” on it. That was until Sam got into some trouble in prison for selling fake Rolex watches to some King Pin Drug Dealers from Mexico and had to leave the yard for his own safety.

Prisoners could not have expensive Rolex watches, at least not in that particular prison. Sam would sell the watches and have them shipped to relatives of the Convicts he sold them to. One day one of the Cons went to a visit where his Father came in to see him wearing his new fake Rolex. Now this guy may have been raised poor on a corn farm in Mexico but, he knew enough about Rolex watches to know that the second hand did not go tic tic tic. It’s second hand has a continual sweeping motion so, when he saw the tell-tale tic tic tic of “You’ve Been Scammed” he came back into the cell block yelling, “Sam I Am . . Going To Kill You!” After Sam made his get away he forever afterwards introduced himself as, “Sam I Am” although by everyone else inside of prison he was known as “Sam The Scam” or “Sam The Sham.”

Sam was doing time for some Dry Cleaning Hustle. He’d go to the Library of any city and look through phone books from different large towns near by and copy the addresses of restaurants. Then he’d send them a short letter saying some waiter or waitress had spilled something on his suit jacket, explain that he hadn’t wanted to cause a scene at the time, had it dry cleaned himself, please see enclosed a phony dry cleaning receipt, and would you mind ever so much to reimburse me for this amount?

It all worked well for Sam until he sold the idea to some guy who owned an Ethiopian Cab Company. One day the Cab Company Owner ran into Sam at the Post Office and noticed Sam had a fist full of letters from different restaurants and correctly assumed that Sam was running the same scam that he had sold to him.

Someone tipped the Postal Authorities to Sam’s doings and he later got arrested for over a Thousand Counts of Postal Fraud. “It was that Ethiopian Cabbie, I know it was,” Sam wailed one day. “No sense of enterprise that guy. Hell, this Country’s so big he could have sold the idea to half his family and we’d all still have a big enough piece of the pie!”

“I started selling Electrolux vacuum cleaners back in the Fifties door to door,” Sam one day told me. “I should’ve stuck with them. I’ll bet I could be some kind of a Manager by now. .” His voice quietly rings in my ear now.

Yes Sam, I think you should have stuck with Electrolux. Who knows where you’d be today.




  1. Good stuff. My mom used to sell Electrolux for a few years when I was a kid. Tough girl my mom. Those vaccuum cleaners were indestructable. I used to play with ours like it was a big tank. I bought a new one a few years back…all plastic. Those vacuum cleaners were so well built that here in South America you can still find Electrolux repairmen.

    Liked by 1 person

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