Part 2 (if you are so inclined)
Part 3: Jellies Is Our Business, And Business Is Good
It was my second month of employment, and the odyssey of bizarre hillbilliness continued.
As the ten or twelve of us continued "smilin' an' dialin'" for Ron and his rotten sidekick, we would feel each other out and trade opinions regarding the legality of what we were doing. Were we unwittingly helping a pair of con artists?
We whispered a lot, saying things like, "Shit, any minute now, the feds are gonna come in here with a search warrant or something." My biggest suspicion was that -- here we were selling jellies to keep the kids off drugs -- however I had yet to see one single, solitary jar of jelly, physical or otherwise. There wasn't even a picture of the jellies!
Oh, and we "heard" about jelly deliveries, but we had never seen a single delivery made.
Most everyone agreed that something was not right. I think one of us even asked to see the jellies, but to no avail.
And then one afternoon, Ron went off. He stormed into the phone-dialing area and started yelling. "It has come to my attention that SOME of the people who work in this here office... that SOME of you think this is some kinda ILLEGAL OPERATION," he barked. He was pissed. He continued, "Well, that is NOT TRUE! And if you do not like working here, you can get the hell out! Right! NOW!"
There were good days, and there were bad days. On a good day, you would make your calls, sell some jellies, and get paid cash at the end of your shift. On a bad day, you would make your calls, sell some jellies, and witness some sort of abortion-level madness unfold before your very eyes.
One night as I was dialing some poor son of a bitch for another jelly sale, I heard some commotion going down inside Ron's office. Then everyone heard a very loud phone slam. Ron came storming out, yelling, "Well, he did it again!!" One of the phone dialers asked, "Who did what, Ron?" "Sporty's ex-wife just called here, an' she says there's a warrant out on him -- they're lookin' for him right now," Ron answered. Whether or not his phone-dialing employees wanted to hear any of this crap was irrelevant; as far as Ron was concerned, if it involved himself or Sporty Shorty, it was of vital importance. Apparently, this time Sporty had gone off on his ex-wife (again), giving her a black eye or some such beating. The police were after Sporty, supposedly for this abuse and god-knows-what-else. Sporty did not come into the office that night. He was hiding out. Ron was yelling and carrying on like a madman, obviously upset that his con artist friend and meal ticket might be going to jail. To the rest of the people in the room though, it was just another day of jelly sellin'.
A couple of us heard that Mary, one of the hot girls in the office, supposedly had sex with Sporty Shorty. It appeared to be true; she hung around his office a lot, a telltale sign. I could never figure out what she would have seen in such an incredulous cretin, except that -- oh yeah, I forgot -- Mary liked cocaine! Sporty had plenty of that.
There were all sorts of characters working at the office. At one point I noticed a guy sitting at a desk next to me drinking from one of those 32oz Big Gulp cups. I said to him, "Those giant cups are great, huh," and he replied "Hell yeah, they are," as he proceeded to fill it with vodka. Yeah, this place was pretty shitty, but it had its perks. You could get away with a lot. Not only were you allowed to smoke cigarettes on the job, you could also drink alcohol! And sometimes, people would even take naps at their desks. But that was where Ron drew the line; if he caught you sleeping, he would wake you up and threaten to fire you. He never went through with it though. See, as much of a hard-ass as he tried to be, Ron was really a softie on the inside. For a con man, anyway.
One time Ron asked me for a favor. He needed to make a midnight run to the bank, and since he did not have a car of his own, he asked if I would drive him. He said he needed to make a deposit. There were sacks and sacks full of cash and checks. I saw them. I feared that if I didn't help him, he might fire me.
So we got into my car and drove about two miles down the road to a night deposit box. I swear to you, as god is my witness, I felt as if I were some kind of cohort in crime. Maybe I did it because I wanted to live out a secret fantasy; being a balls-out, jelly-swindling criminal might be exciting!
In any case, for several of these night deposits, I was the "driver." One time, as a reward, Ron bought me a sandwich. I thought that was nice.
I stayed employed as a representative of the "Pennsylvania Troopers Association" for about two months. I woke up one day, called Ron, and told him I quit. I made a few bucks and I made a few friends. And I had also done my part to keep the kids off drugs.
I never did see any jellies.
About a year later, my friend Mike and I heard a rumor that the place had been busted, and not long after we quit! Apparently, Ron and Sporty Shorty took off, only to set up shop in another city -- probably bragging how they could stay one step ahead of the law! I wonder where they ended up.