One way to pay for my past sins as a con artist is to hire myself out to corporations seeking to be protected from con artists. One way I help these corporations is by ‘testing’ their employees. I find out how easily some of their key employees can be duped. Following is an account of one of my ‘tests’:

 

Dear Survivor Disciple,

Here I was, me, being a good, model citizen. Can you believe it? I still have a hard time seeing myself that way, but I am one now. I had offered my con man consulting skills to a regional chain of super-sized supermarkets. The upper management wanted me to field test a store supervisor to see if the supervisor was worthy of being promoted to management.

So, there I was one late Thursday night, outside one of those super-stores, ready to see how gullible a supervisor might be. How would I do this?

I carry odds and ends in my wallet. They can come in handy. I looked in my wallet–what did I have in there tonight. Yes, that interesting blank check sent to me in a joke email: a check drawn on the “Bank of the Moon”. It had been part of a romantic email from a resort hotel chain. Fortunately the hotel had not printed “Void” over the check. Why should they have, obviously it was a joke. I had printed out the check, cut it out, and placed it in my wallet.

The check gave me a good start on a plan. What I had needed was that icer that would give my con an air of authority. I had picked out the ID I’d use tonight. At home I still have my old conning equipment. Some of my old ID cards read “President of Disney World”; “Secretary of State in Louisiana”; “Assistant Manager at Burger Planet”; “Colonel in the Air Force”. I had picked out the Air Force Colonel ID. I thought that with that ID and my cover story that the target supervisor might see me as in the same management level as herself.

The store was crowded, filled with people who had been going no where that day, and had felt the need to take a side-trip. A super-store is a safe place for people who don’t know where they want to go to hang out. Super-stores emphasize short-term thinking, so almost anyone can wander around the aisles and look like they know what they’re doing.

I maneuvered through the crowd toward the “Customer Information” counter. That’s where my target supervisor worked. Her name was Sylvia.    There were two lines at the Customer Information counter. So, which clerk should I approach? I had to make contact with a clerk first, and have them fail to help me. That failure would get Sylvia involved.

One line led to an older woman, the other line led to a young woman. Which of them would be my first my target? The older woman looked fairly confident. She looked like she’d been doing super-store work for a long time—she looked like she thought she ‘knew it all, and had seen it all before’. She might try to take care of my request herself, no matter how goofy, or just tell me to get lost.

The young woman looked very young, like she had graduated from high school yesterday. Standing back from the ends of the two lines I saw that she had to look up information on charts, while the older woman had all that information memorized. The young one looked like she could get flustered easy. She would want to get advice, fast. And that advice would be from Sylvia. The young one it was, then.

When I got to the front of the young woman’s line she smiled in a young, eager to please way. Her name tag read “Pat”.

“Yes, sir, I hope you’re having a good day. How can I help you?”

“Yes, Pat, the people in your city are quite hospitable.”

“Oh, thank you. Are you from out of town?”

“Does it show?”

“Oh, maybe a little.” She giggled assertively and gave me a wink, letting me know she accepted me into her clan of fellow friendly humans.

“Quite perceptive. You’ll be made assistant manager soon” I said.

Her face went very red with embarrassment.

“Oh, no, I’m not ready for that! Give me about 10 years.”

“You’ll do just fine. I know. I’m an assistant manager myself ” I said.

“No, really? Are you with one of our stores up north?”

“Up is the right direction, but higher than “north”. I work on the moon.”

Pat was shocked.

“We have branch locations on the moon?”

“Not that I know of. No, I’m with the Air Force. I work in our space station on the dark side of the moon. I’m assistant manager of the cafeteria.”

Now she went red and was shocked. She looked toward the older woman.

“No way! Sylvia listen to this!”

This was working faster than I had thought, but that was okay. Sylvia wandered over. Her casual walk told me this was not the first time she had been invited into a situation Pat found shocking, but probably wouldn’t shock her.

“Sylvia, he’s the assistant manager in the cafeteria in the space station on the moon!”

I wanted Sylvia to accept me as an equal, so I gave myself the low level position as assistant cafeteria manager. That was an executive position Sylvia could identify with.

“I’m back on leave for a few weeks.”

Sylvia wasn’t sure whether to believe me.

“I thought President Bush just said we were going back to the moon? I didn’t know we were there yet.”

I had her thinking, at least.

“That’s how the government works. First they start a program, then they let the public know about it.”

Pat was shocked.

“Oh, no, they wouldn’t. Would they?”

Sylvia laughed.

“Of course those federal government punks would. That’s the government for you. Nothing surprises me anymore.”

“Sylvia, you’ve been under screwball management for a long time, I can tell.”

Sylvia shook her head.

“Tell me about it, mister.”

“My name’s David.”

“Well, David, I’ve been a supervisor at more branch locations than I can remember. Why am I not an assistant manager? Because I don’t kiss no ones butt but my own. Never have, never will.”

I thought I had Sylvia where I needed her.

“Believe me it’s the same even on the moon.”

Sylvia gave an all-knowing grin.

“Those punks, even up there where they couldn’t breathe for one second without the tax dollars they pull out of my butt? I believe you.”

“You know the military accountant types. In fact, that’s why I’m talking to you ladies today. I’m on leave, came back to Earth see some relatives, and the accountants were late getting our pay checks to us before we came down. So now I’ve got to cash one of my personal checks.”

I slid my Air Force ID toward the women. Pat picked it up first.

“Wow, real Air Force ID” she said.

Sylvia took the ID from her.

“Yep, you can’t beat the military for making quality ID.”

Then I slid my blank “Bank of the Moon” check toward them.

“I didn’t have time to cash a check before I caught the space shuttle.”

That impressed Pat.

“The space shuttle!”

Sylvia picked up the check.

“Bank of the Moon?”

“Yes, that’s the only bank on the moon. Unfortunately they don’t have branches here locally.”

Sylvia got thoughtful.

“Nope, I’ve never heard of that one around here. How about you, Pat, ever hear of them having a branch over on your side of town?”

Pat got real thoughtful, taking a cue from Sylvia.

“No, I don’t think I have.”

I liked how they were reacting.

“It’s a government bank.”

“That makes sense”, said Sylvia.

“What do you think; can you help out a fellow assistant manager?”

Pat looked to Sylvia. Sylvia shook her head “yes”.

“Sure, in times like this we civilians have to help our troops. Especially when the troops have typical crap upper management. We got a limit on military checks, though. Will $1500 be enough?”

“Boy, wish I could get more” I said.

Then a ‘light’ went on in Sylvia’s crafty brain. She reached out to the counter between me and her, and grabbed a “Doubler Coupon”.

“Say, feel like pulling a fast one on my manager?”

“Does a fish love water?” I said.

“Okay, then. How about using one of these “Doubler Coupons” on your check, and you get $3000?”

Both women laughed.

“Oh, that’s sneaky”, said Pat.

“He’d get so mad!” laughed Sylvia.

“But, there’d be nothing he could do. We’d say it was for a soldier, and he’d look unpatriotic if he complained.” said Pat.

“David here isn’t a “soldier”. He’s in the Air Force–he’s an ‘airman’. Don’t mind her. Fill out your check, mister”. Sylvia slid the check back to me.

I got it filled out quick, and slid it back. Pat picked up the “Doubler Coupon”.

“Here’s your coupon!” She handed it to me.

Both women laughed as Sylvia opened Pat’s cash register. I felt that warm glow in my stomach as she rapidly counted the appropriate number of $100 bills.

“Here’s your money. Go out and have a good time, before you go back and fight for our country.”

I pocketed the money quick, before the sight of so much cash could get another employee’s attention.

“Thanks, ladies. Let me salute you.”

I stood at attention and saluted.

Sylvia got serious.

“No, sir, it’s we that need to salute you, airman.”

Sylvia and Pat stood up straight as they could and saluted me. It was quite touching.

“Thank you, ladies. I’ll remember this always.”

I left quickly. Never get cocky, and hang around once you’ve got your money. Get out the door.

No, I think after my report that Sylvia well be spending the rest of her life as a supervisor. And upper management will probably decide that Pat was correct when she said it would be 10 years before she would be ready to be assistant manger. Me? The management had said that whatever money I got out Sylvia I could keep. $3000—not bad for an honest night’s work.

 

Yours in the faith,

David

 

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