Theo had heard some things about how if you had shopped at Valu-Mart at any time in the past five years, you were entitled to a portion of a settlement that was paid out as part of a class-action lawsuit.
He did some research online and found the number of the law firm. After giving his information, he was all set: He was part of the settlement; his share would arrive in about four to six weeks.
He waited patiently during that time, every once in a while daydreaming about what he would do with the money once he got it. He didn’t allow himself to get too excited since he wasn’t given an exact figure (he had been told something about it depending on how many people opt to be part of the settlement and how many ways the settlement would need to be split). But he had been assured by the energetic young man he’d spoken with at the law firm that it was going to be “a decent amount”.
Exactly five weeks later–right around the time Theo had started to forget about the settlement or ever making that phone call–there was a knock at his front door.
“Morning, you Theodore Jeffries?”
“Yeah, that’s me.”
“OK, then. I’ll need you to sign right here. I have your portion of the settlement from the Valu-Mart lawsuit.”
Theo took the man’s clipboard and scribbled his signature on the receipt.
The man took the clipboard back. “Thank you, sir. Have a good day.”
“Wait,” Theo said to the man as he walked away. “Don’t you have an envelope or something for me?”
“No, sir. Your portion of the settlement is right outside here. Have a good one.”
Theo walked outside to find a pallet of PayDay candy bars, dropped right in the middle of his driveway, blocking his car.
Theo ran after the delivery man as he was starting to pull out of the driveway. “Hey, wait! Wait!”
The truck stopped.
Theo ran up to the cab. “What am I supposed to do with all those?” he said, motioning to the pallet.
“I sure don’t know, mister. My job’s just to deliver them. Bye, now.”
Theo stood there watching the truck pull away, then took another look at the pallet. It didn’t occur to him until that exact moment that when he called the law firm to discuss the settlement, the “decent amount” guy had never actually used the word “money” to describe the settlement.
He went back inside to do some more online research. It turned out that the class-action lawsuit had something to do with Valu-Mart jacking up the price of candy in their stores, and through some convoluted series of events, they were ordered to pay all of the litigants who were part of the suit in candy.
Theo was pretty sure that wasn’t quite legal, but he had bigger problems at the moment. Namely, the pallet of caramel and peanut candy bars sitting out in the sun in the middle of his driveway.
After unsuccessfully trying to contact the law firm again, and after making two additional fruitless calls–one to Valu-Mart corporate headquarters and one to his local representative–Theo went on eBay and craigslist to see what giant pallets of candy were going for. He was determined to get a pay day from his PayDays one way or another.
After all, this was America. It was his birthright to make money he hadn’t truly earned.