The Boy Who Weighed Things


He was 8 years old when he found a Hanson model 1512 postal scale in the trash bin behind Daffy Dan’s on Polsky Street. He took it home, cleaned it off and began weighing little things around the house. The Hanson 1512 scale had a maximum weight limit of 20 pounds. He was careful not to put anything too heavy on it, like his dad’s bowling ball, or his mom’s sewing machine. But for most things around the house this little scale, no bigger than a football, could tell you its weight in gold. And this, young Brian felt, was the greatest thing since TV dinners!

It took him a few days to weigh everything under 20 pounds in his house, but when he was done he took his Hanson model 1512 out to the streets to introduce it to the public.

“Hey mailman! Wanna know how much your bag weighs with all those letters in it?”

The mailman politely smiled and said,

“Not today, son.”

It is common knowledge, within mailman circles, the only creatures worse than big hungry dogs are curious young boys who ask too many questions. Rejected but not beaten, Brian went home and dug out a card table from his parents’ garage. He made a wooden sign that read WEIGH ANYTHING LESS THAN 20 POUNDS TO FIND OUT HOW MUCH IT WEIGHS. ONLY 25 CENTS! Then he set up a shop in the apron of his parents’ driveway.

“What you got there, Brian?”


Brian turned his head to see who the owner of the interested voice was. It was Mrs. Nagy. Nosy Nagy was what everyone on the street called her.

“Uh…nothing really…unless you wanna know what practically everything under 20 pounds in the entire world weighs!” Brian answered excitedly. You have to pique prospective customers interest by raising the inflection of your voice every chance you get.

“Wow! That sounds interesting. You know, I have some tomatoes in my backyard that look bigger than any tomatoes I have ever grown. You think if I bring them over you can give me a quantity discount?”

Slightly annoyed with Nosy Nagy wanting to screw with his profits, but realizing in business that if you want to get something you have to give something, Brian agreed. So Mrs. Nagy went back to her house to get her tomatoes. While she was gone some other people gathered at Brian’s table to find out what he was selling.

“Hey, how much you think my hand weighs!” asked Tommy Konkowski as he threw down a quarter with his left hand onto Brian’s table and placed his right hand, rather forcibly, on the scale.

“Looks like 5 pounds,” Brian told him.

“FIVE POUNDS! My hand weighs FIVE POUNDS!” cried Tommy.

Brian told Tommy that his hand probably weighs less than 5 pounds. It depends on how hard you press the scale. But Tommy was sticking with 5 pounds.

“I can put a hole through Superman with this hand!” Tommy boasted. Then he ran away.

A woman pushing a stroller with a 6-month old baby named Fred inside stopped. She picked Fred up and placed him on the scale.

“18 pounds!” cried Brian.

“Here you go,” said the woman as she handed Brian a quarter.

The crowd of inquisitive buyers wanting to know the weights of everyday items was growing. Betty Kiplinger weighed her chihuahua. Mr. Burger weighed a cold cup of coffee. Bradley Cooper wanted to see how much the grasshopper he had inside a jar weighed, but when he took it out and placed it on the scale it hopped away and Brian had to refund him the money. A guy with a green hat and a bushy red beard pulled up in a purple car, got out and weighed one screwdriver, then got back in and left without paying. Johnny Dugan weighed a waterlogged boot he found in the creek behind Wilson’s Mill. Mike Smith weighed a 45 of The Four Seasons Walk Like A Man and its B-side Lucky Ladybug. Pete Vogel wanted to see if his 1968 Boog Powell baseball card weighed more than his 1969 Frank Robinson baseball card. Just like in real life, Boog Powell weighed more than Frank Robinson, but only by 1/8 of an ounce. And so the day went on pretty much like this. Brian closed up shop at five o’ clock, just like his dad did where he worked. Mrs. Nagy never did come back with her tomatoes. Brian earned $5.75 that day, mainly from kids and a few sympathetic adults.

Interest in the Hanson 1512 scale peaked four days later. When customers stopped coming around Brian put his scale away and found a paper route that had opened up. He used his earnings from his failed business to buy a nice little wagon to pull his newspapers around.

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