Sunday, September 23, 2018

by Steven Lane (writer), Simi valley, Ca and Austin, Tx., November 21, 2006


Prague, Czechoslovakia was a pretty strange place to be in 1982. The communists were running the show and doing a dismal job. However, during the 5 or 6 months that I was working there, I never found a real communist. Oh sure, I met a lot of card carrying "party members". If you weren't a member of the "party", you couldn't succeed, and you certainly could not be put in a position to "deal" with people from the west, like myself. Everyone I met had two things in common, One, they hated the Russians, Two, they were absolutely intent on getting as many American dollars from me as possible.
The problem was a real basic one, their currency was worthless outside of their "communist realm", and despite any value it might have in their country, there was simply nothing to buy. You could only buy real things, like t.v.'s and stereos, and camera's at state owned "dollar" stores.
This is a real "chicken and the egg" story. It was illegal to have dollars but you were screwed if you didn't have them. So, of course, there was a huge black market in the currency. The official rate was three Kronas to one dollar, but the black market rate was an amazing ten Kronas to one dollar.
My partner and I knew very quickly that we wanted in on this scam, immediately, if not sooner! We would dine at the best Prague restaurants, drink fine wines. Money would be no object, if they had it, we could buy it at less than 1/3 the price.
I quickly put our plan into action, we left our hotel with 100 American clams and walked down the street eyeing everyone, while awaiting the whispered word we had been told to expect. In a matter of moments, from a darkened alley came the password. "Change?" I quickly fished out the one hundred dollar U.S. greenback note and handed it to the shadowy figure. Lo and behold, in a flash we had one thousand Kronas! The world was ours. This was like having a personal Czech versateller.
As we returned to our hotel to make change from our newly acquired 1000 Krona note, we talked about the sixteen cent beers and three dollar spa visits we would soon be having. We were already splurging on five dollar cans of Russian caviar and fantastic Hungarian champagne at three bucks a pop. I went to the cashier and slapped that note down on the counter, and with a big grin, asked for change so I could split with my partner.
I should have known there was 'trouble in River City" as soon as she started giggling uncontrollably. She quickly gathered her composure, and asked, with a bit of a snicker, "yes sir, and what can I do for you?". I responded, "Well, I told you already, I wish to change this large bill!" and "be quick about it, there is beer going to waste somewhere here!" She looked me squarely in the eye, and very sweetly said, "I am so sorry sir, but I can't accept this bill. You see it appears to be a bit old." And with a very pretty manicured finger she pointed to the date of the bill, which read, September 22, 1927. A note printed by a very non Communist government long ago passed.

About the Writer

Steven Lane is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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4 comments on

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By Ariel on November 21, 2006 at 12:56 pm
hehe, what does the title mean?
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By Steven Lane on November 21, 2006 at 07:54 pm
I used a Czech online translator so it is susposed to mean "Two stupid Americans". I don't speak the language, so it might say "Ducks bottoms fly". I tried.
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By Ariel on November 22, 2006 at 01:50 am
lol :)
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By Ivana Poulova on April 14, 2007 at 03:30 pm
"Dva hloupy americky" means "two stupid American" which doesn't make much sense of course. Two stupid Americans looking for a good time = Dva hloupi Americane, co si chteji uzit
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