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the sketchiest night of my life

One consequence of the long delay before I leave for Basic Training is that I have to come up with two more months’ rent. As such, I set out yesterday to acquire a basic, simple job that would pay over $10/hour and for which I could start immediately and end abruptly when it was time to go to training. This mainly entailed looking through CraigsList and the paper’s classifieds section and calling people, only to have them tell me that as I’d be leaving in six weeks, it’s just not worth the effort to train me.

One CraigsList guy, though, had an entirely different response. I called him at about 4:30 pm, and he said “Great! How soon can you be here? Mapquest it. It takes 43 minutes? If you can be here in 40 minutes or less you get a bonus.”

As it turned out, it actually took about 50 minutes to get to his house, so I didn’t get the bonus. He greeted me, said it’d be about 15 minutes before we could leave, then vanished.

One hour later, he showed up out of thin air and said he just needed to print out the directions, then vanished again. In the meantime, I was alone in a well furnished house which seemed to be of a different level of formality than his attire, with a number of pictures of people who looked nothing like him.

After another 40 minutes, as I was thinking of just leaving and writing the whole thing off, he suddenly showed up and told me that it was time to head out. It was now 1900. He backed the giant truck out of his driveway, then asked me if I’d ever driven such a thing before. I said that I hadn’t, but that I’d be willing to try. He told me that was good, and that I should get in the driver’s seat and drive to Worcester.

About ten minutes down the road, I noticed that the fuel gauge was hovering near the Empty mark. He told me that it was fine and that it would get us to where we were going. About an hour later on 495 South, the engine stopped producing power, eventually sputtering to a stop. I headed for the first offramp (37B–Fort Devens), but the offramp was uphill, and I ended up having to park (without power steering) on the edge of the offramp. We then hitchhiked the few miles to the nearest gas station and back, then spent about an hour getting the truck going again. Apparently big diesel engines need to be primed with a special primer button located under the hood after they have been run entirely dry of gas before they will go again.

Keep in mind that everything in this post is true. My sketch quota was eventually so far exceeded that by now I’m just not reacting to it at all.

It was now 2130 or so and we still had a ways to go before we made the first delivery. At this point, I was having some doubts as to what was really going on–he had told me that we were delivering mattresses, but I really had no idea what was in the back of that truck. It was kind of a relief, when we finally got to the first person’s house, to discover that the back of the truck contained about 10 mattresses and box springs, two chairs, two ottomans, two hand trucks, and about as much empty space as my bedroom. We offloaded a mattress, box spring, and frame to the customer, and everything seemed pretty much normal. Aside from the total lack of packaging on any of the components, it pretty much resembled a delivery from when I was a UPS guy.

The second delivery was in Worcester, about ten minutes’ walk from ‘s house where I’ve been spending my weekends. We brought the mattress and box spring into the apartment, at which point my employer told me that we were to head off.
“What about the frame?”
“The real question is, do I care if they get the frame?”
“…”
“If they go yelling out the window ‘Chris, what about the frame?’, we’ll deliver it to them. Otherwise, let’s get moving. We’ve got a long night ahead of us.”

With an extra bedframe surplus, we set out to the third delivery point. Here, he not only took particular care to ensure the customer got the best matching mattress, box spring, and frame, but he also bargained with them to try to sell one of the chair/ottoman sets. In the end, he sold the bed set and one of the ottomans for a grand total of $220. Comparing this price to others after the fact, my employer’s price seems suspiciously cheap.

At this point, he had me drive him to Irish Times, where he had three beers and I had a Red Bull for the caffeine. We left at around 0130. It was at this point that he informed me that we absolutely had to return the truck to Penske tonight, as if it wasn’t there by tomorrow they might report it as stolen. This would necessitate some logistical planning, as there were still a number of mattresses and chairs in the back that he didn’t want to just abandon. In the meantime, he had an idea of someone to sell the chairs to, so he had me drive there.

After successfully offloading the chairs (“A special 2/1 chair/ottoman deal! Don’t fight over who gets to put their feet up!”), he had me drive to a Penske dealership which displayed many characteristics I associate with businesses which have closed down for the night. Arriving at around 0230, we were met by a guy in a pickup truck with a motorcycle trailer, into which we loaded the remaining supplies. We then left the big truck there unlocked with the keys in the ignition and a notable lack of “I am returning the truck I rented from you” type paperwork.

I had to argue fairly strongly against the notion of me riding in the trailer on the way back to the employer’s house, but I did eventually prevail. The ride there was almost entirely uneventful, just long; we arrived shortly after 0400. We then unloaded the motorcycle trailer into one half of a two-car garage which was serving duty as an ersatz mattress/box spring warehouse, and probably contained about 40 of them in addition to the ones we unloaded. I was then paid my $110 ($11 / hour, discounting half an hour at the bar; this rate was negotiated when I first met the employer), and left for home.

There were additional points of sketch that I didn’t mention the first time around because they wouldn’t fit properly into the story. Stored carefully between adjacent mattresses in the truck were a pair of paintings and several framed mirrors, all about 3×4′ in dimension. The employer was extremely reluctant to fill the tank of the Penske truck, and we left it at its depot with little more than fumes in the tank. The pickup truck dude put up about half an hour of negotiation on the cell phone before the employer acquired his services; in the end, the employer paid him $100 in exchange for the use of his truck and trailer, his help loading and unloading, and a joint.

So. On the one hand, the work was easy and profitable. On the other hand, the best case scenario if I were to continue it is that my sense of sketch would be permanently uncalibrated due to supersaturation; the worst case is that I would end up with titles like “Accomplice” and “Felon”, which would pretty much end any hopes of flying for the army right then and there. I am pretty sure that last night I didn’t actually do anything wrong. This does not change the fact that working for the wrong people may in itself have harmful effects.

The employer told me that he had plenty more work for me, and that I should just call him as soon as I want to work again. The more I think about it, the less of a good idea it sounds to ever contact him again. This means that I am looking for a job that I can start immediately and end abruptly. Anyone have any ideas?

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8 Comments

Comment by jjlc
2007-03-13 06:03:13

Quite frankly, you may want to contact the police. Especially if he only knows your first name. But then, your name could pass for an alias anyway. Unless you think you could say that it never occurred to you that the stuff was stolen with a straight face, it looks pretty bad not to report really suspicious stuff, imho.

 
Comment by alchemeron
2007-03-13 06:16:40

Try a temp agency.

 
Comment by anonymous
2007-03-13 07:08:11

You have nothing to gain personally by calling the police, and you’ve gotten away with whatever you guys were doing. Call it a win and walk away – there’s no need to risk your chance to fly more than you already have.

- Explodicle

 
Comment by kadath
2007-03-13 08:09:04

Delete this now, dude. You probably didn’t do anything wrong, but get it off the ‘Net. You do not want to explain this during a security clearance investigation.

 
Comment by kadath
2007-03-13 10:20:42

Oh, and if they can afford it, ask your parents for a loan. The Army will pay for everything for you, since you’ll be an enlistee, and you’ll be stacking up your paychecks with nothing to spend them on, so you’ll be able to pay your parents back quickly.

 
Comment by miles_foxxer
2007-03-13 11:16:12

To be honest, if you really want to figure out if you did anything wrong, first, Document the advertised job listing, and everything that happened that day to cover yourself. Then, look into the address he met you at, if the names don’t match up you might want to do a little more snooping. A good place to start is the yellow pages, find out who’s listed at that address. From there I would recommend you watch the police blotter in the paper for that area for the next week or two to see if that address shows up. If so, two and two are pretty close to four and you should report it. As long as you document your trail well enough you should be able to make for a decent case, especially if you offer to help catch these people.

Maybe not the most practical or easy of advice. But my instincts always say that risk for the greater good is worth it, because this is risky. But you’ve got to decide yourself.

 
Comment by coriolinus
2007-03-13 16:51:36

Friendslocking it should be sufficient–I doubt that the security investigators are going to subpoena LJ to get at every post I’ve ever written. Or at least, if they do go that far, I think I can explain what happened.

 
Comment by silversliver
2007-03-17 02:49:07

Seconded. There are a couple of agencies that even specialize in widely applicable technical skills, if you want something that uses your degree.

And I agree with your assessment that it’s best not to contact this guy again, and to maybe contact the police, at least to inform them of said suspicious activity.

 

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