Tales from the Bourse is a unique collection of short stories and anecdotes written by David Lawrence about some of more interesting events that took place in his journey to becoming a coin dealer on a national scale. It was originally published in 2001 and has been reprinted numerous times due to popular demand. The book is published online here in its entirely.
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For years I traveled to shows with a good friend I’ll call Arnold. In the beginning, when our businesses were small, we even shared hotel rooms. But this was not easy on either of us because Arnold liked to keep the room very cold and I liked it on the warm side. Also, Arnold was a touchy sleeper and the slightest movement by me at night would wake him up with a start.
This happened one night in a hotel room in Little Rock, Arkansas. I was so cold I couldn’t sleep and, about 2 in the morning, I quietly got up to change the thermostat. I hadn’t taken more than a couple of steps when he bolted upright and cried out: “Dave, what happened?”
Not expecting it, I jumped. However, that was nothing compared with our situation the next time he woke and cried out these same words.
A year or two after Little Rock, Arnold and I did a show in Charlotte, North Carolina. We would do this show every year or two and, when we did, we usually drove in my minivan. It’s about 325 miles from my house to Charlotte and would take six to seven hours, depending on traffic. Since we always had our show inventory with us, we rarely stopped except to drive through a fast-food restaurant and to get gas.
Though the show was held near the center of town, we stayed at a motel near Hwy. 85, about 15 miles away. On Sunday morning, the last day of the show, we packed our clothing bags and went across the street for breakfast. Then I filled up the van and we drove to the show. Business ended about 5. We gathered our coins and cases and headed home. I did the driving and counted on Arnold to help me stay alert with conversation.
This he did, at least until about 11 p.m. when he fell asleep. By that time we were approaching Suffolk, some 40 miles from my house. The gas gauge on my Voyager showed about an eighth of a tank and I was in no mood to stop. So I kept going, right past the last gas station on the highway. About 15 miles farther, the van sputtered to a halt – right before the high-rise bridge over the western branch of the Elizabeth River.
I managed to pull off the road. Arnold woke up: “Dave, what happened!”
“I think we ran out of gas,” I said.
Arnold got very agitated. “What are we going to do?” He was still half asleep.
“I’ll try to hitch a ride to a gas station. I’ll also call Lynn and see if she can come by. We aren’t far from home.”
Arnold did not like this very much, but it was before the days of cell phones and we didn’t have any other choice. So, I got out of the car and put my thumb out. There wasn’t much traffic that time of night, but eventually a couple in an old pickup stopped and gave me a lift. I guess they didn’t trust me 100%, for even though I was dressed nicely they made me ride in the back, which was full of leaves and other garden debris.
I didn’t complain. A couple of miles up the road we found an exit with a gas station and luckily it was open. I tried to get the couple to stay and take me back, but they drove off. Lynn wasn’t too excited about coming to get me at that time of night either. Fortunately, the guy on duty at the station had a friend hanging around and he offered to take me back with a can of gas.
The whole episode took about an hour. When we got to the car Arnold was alert and perhaps even a little frightened. He didn’t like the looks of the country boy who had driven me back. But the kid was all right.
We put the gas in and turned the key. The van wouldn’t start and I was beginning to think we hadn’t run out of gas after all. But the kid knew something about cars. He told me to wait a few minutes and try again. All the while he stood by in case I needed to go back to the phone.
A few minutes later the van started and we continued on our way. I tried to give him a generous tip, but he wouldn’t take it. He even returned the gas can for us.
Considering the value of the coins we had with us, we had been very lucky. I vowed never to be that stupid again.