Bertold Humbucker is a third generation owner of New York’s Big Apple Pipe and Tobacco Shop. “You wouldn’t believe how many people call and think they are funny and original with the Price Albert routine,” he says.
But yesterday was different when 15 year old Louis Smortwart called and said, “Do you have Prince Albert in a Can?”
Instead of Humbucker giving his usual reply of, “No, I got him out of the can and shoved him up your mother’s asshole,” he said, “Congratulations! You are the 10,000,000th caller with that stupid prank. I would like to present you with a plaque and a hundred dollar gift certificate.”
“Wow,” said the kid who’ll get
to shake hands with the Mayor and will also be riding in a car in New York’s next Saint Patrick’s day parade.
“We thought we would commemorate that stupid prank milestone to get some publicity for the business,” said Humbucker. “But there is another reason we want to bring light to the Prince Albert in the can routine. The new generation of adolescent boys are relentless. Tobacco store phones are always tied up. We want to get the word out to these jerks that we have heard that joke ten million fucking times and it is not funny anymore.”
Tobacco stores need to have two extra phone lines to handle the prank calls and not shut out legitimate business. “Running a tobacco store would be so much more pleasurable if it weren’t for those damn Prince Albert calls,” says Seattle tobacco store owner Gilbert Juredtov. “We tried screening calls with a message machine, but the Prince Albert pranksters just tied up the answering machine and real customers couldn’t get through.”
Things grew from irritating to more serious when Ned Falopian, a Chicago tobacco store clerk, was driven to the edge last April. According to store owner Enis McCracker, “Ned worked for me for 20 years and was an excellent employee. On that terrible day he had answered 30 Prince Albert calls. He looked frazzled and was clearly distressed. I said to him, ‘Ned, go home early!’
“But he replied, ‘No, Sir, I must do my duty and serve the customers.’
“Then the phone rang. I tried to reach for it but Ned got it before me and a look of horror came over him. He shuttered and said, ‘Prince Albert is dead. I gouged out his eyeballs and I am frying up his liver right now. Would you like to join me for dinner?’ He had a maniacal look on his face and broke out in a cold sweat, and added, ‘They hung up. If I get one more Prince Albert call I am going to shoot myself.’
“‘Look Ned,’ I said, ‘go home. It is only an hour before closing. I’ll close up shop alone today.’
“‘No, Sir. I must stay and serve the customers. They expect that.’ That was his way. Always devoted to the clients.
“Then the phone rang again. I raced for the phone but Ned jumped on me and fought for the phone. As we wrestled for the phone trying to pry it from each other’s grip Ned yelled out, ‘Sir! Sir! I must serve the customers!’
“Ned overpowered me and I fell to the floor. He put the phone to his ear and calmly said, ‘Windy City Tobacco Shop, may I help you?’ Then a look of terror and cold sweat came over him. He dropped the phone and walked to the back room. I thought he went to splash some cold water on his face. Then I heard a powerful bang. He had shot himself in the head.”
“No one knows for sure how many tobacco store casualties there are, but we suffer a lot of stress in our industry due to Prince Albert’s fucking tobacco,” said Humbucker. “We are hoping that our ten millionth Prince Albert caller award will bring some attention to the plight of tobacco store clerks everywhere. People are unaware of just how stressful and dangerous it is for the tobacco store employee. These clerks are making a great sacrifice so that the public can enjoy tobacco products. It is about time we get our due.”