Checkmate

“We Are CRASS” is the corporate slogan for Kankakee debt-collection firm Credit Recovery Associates (CRASS), LLC.

CRASS CEO Mack E. Avelli loves to find new ways to make money for the company. Because he is running out of fresh ideas, he decides to hold a meeting with the entire staff.

“Anything to get some time off the phones, eh?” Dale Davis giggles to Linda Stay, as they walk into the room. Sybil is seated in front with a cheesy grin on her face. Art Director and Sybil Kibble’s number-one crush Dorian James is slumped in the very back row, hand running through his wavy, auburn hair. Sybil stares at her crush, who has made it clear to her many times he is not interested, and prefers the company of men. Accounts Receivable Chief Tara Bull is seated upright and uptight near Lead Debt Collector Sybil Kibble. Mikey Philips works his way into the room, along with Konrad Teirant, who is tired from having to resolve a conflict last night at his megaplex.

Mr. Avelli makes his presence in the room and the chatter subsides, eyes on the CEO.

Mack E. Avelli

“Good morning. It is 11:00. We have an hour to come up with the best ways to maximize revenue for our facility. The most creative ideas will be chosen. Give me your best and brightest ways to bring more income to our company. Who will go first?”

Sybil’s arm darts up.

“Anyone?”

“I’ve got an idea,” Sybil exclaims.

“We can advertise,” Dale suggests.

“Not a bad idea. Advertising takes out of our bottom line and can take away from our profits if it does not provide a return on investment. Who else has an idea?”

“Oohh, oooh!” Sybil gasps as she gets more excited about her idea.

“We can go on the news and talk about our services. Some companies use a public relations firm to pitch advertising stories as news. It might be a lot cheaper than advertising.” Tara Bull mentions.

“That is considered yellow journalism and thus unethical…not a bad idea. I will consider it.”

“Pick me, pick me!”

“Yes, Sybil…” Mack sighs to Ms. Kibble.

“I have an idea that will certainly make us money! Since we are debt collectors and we mail people collections letters that people just throw out, why don’t we disguise the Dunning letters as checks and people will open them instead!”

“That’s brilliant! Why didn’t I think of that before?” Mack E. Avelli boasts as he thanks Sybil for her idea.

The letters, which were designed by the CRASS Art Department have been mailed out to the debtors.

Calls come in, but not the ones Sybil was expecting.

“Hi Sybil? Yes, I’d like to order a pizza.”

“Is this Credit Recovery? I heard you were offering me some money! I am sure broke and can use it!”

“I like blondes. Are you single?”

Unbeknownst to Sybil, her name and photo were used on the letters! Leave it to her rival and crush, Dorian James, to pull a fancy trick like that.

Maybe disguising collections letters as checks is not such a great idea, after all.

Sybil goes home and drowns her troubles in a big bowl of Alpo.

Do It Yourself Mike

CRASS Employee of the Year, Mike Philips

The CRASS Maintenance Chief and Building Manager Mikey Philips is a real do-it-yourselfer. In charge of security, maintenance, and all building operations at the Kankakee bill collection factory, Mike wears many hats (just not fedoras). However, Mike has no problem ordering other people to do his work and often does the bare minimum to satisfy his job description, or less.

“Knock-knock. Hi Mike. It’s Clio from HR.”

“Come.”

“The ladies’ room garbage has been overflowing all day. This is an ongoing, systematic problem. Can you please look into it?”

“Do it yourself,” Mike tells Clio.

“You are in charge of building operations. Can you please look into it?”

“I am busy, do it yourself.”

Clio walks away and Mike picks up a newspaper.

A loud pound is heard on Mike’s door. Mike grumbles and crumples his paper.

“Who goes there?”

“Tara Bull from Accounts Receivable. I need to speak with you.”

Tara opens the door.

“Yes.”

“The vending machines in the breakroom have been busted for two weeks. Get on it.”

“Do it yourself,” Mike tells Ms. Bull.

“What is the status of my request I put in two weeks ago? I sent you three emails.”

“Can you do it? I am busy, got running around to do.”

Tara storms out.

Mike logs onto the DullerImage web site to order some Craptocoins, Pet Petters and some nonfunctioning trinkets (NFTs), however his credit card is declined.

“NSF, why is that? How can I buy my NFTs if I have NSF?” Mike logs onto his Last Bank of Kankakee account and discovers he was not paid today.

Mike calls up Mr. Mack E. Avelli, CRASS CEO, to complain.

“Yes, hello. I just found out I did not get paid today. It is Friday. Why not?”

“I can pay you but you have to work to get money first. Want to earn money? Do it yourself, Mike.”

Aim High

“Oh man, I want to see the new movie Aim High but the tickets are all sold out. It opens this Friday, you know, the one based on the newest Nora Roberts book?” Dorian James rambles.

“Never heard of it.” Sybil tells Dorian in the CRASS cafeteria as she crunches her dog biscuits.

“I want to see it when it comes out, but the tickets are sold out because it is a Valentine’s Day movie.”

Sybil has a few extra minutes before she logs onto the phones, so she searches OKStupid for potential dates, reacting to herself as she reads through the personal ads.

“41 year old man in Chicago seeks female. Must be 18-25 and love sports.”

Nope.

“Do you like big trucks? 21 year old guy, loves beer, weed, works hard and plays hard, no games.”

Naw, I like the occasional backgammon.

“Rare frog, last of his species, seeks woman of any age to give him a kiss. Very polite tender-heart. Age 45. Bourbonnais.”

Just a photo of his feet? A bit odd, but I can try I guess.

Before Sybil has a chance to message the stinky feet from Bourbonnais, he emails her.

Sybil and the mystery man email back and forth. They hit it off right away. The divorced man complains a lot about his ex-wife, which Sybil tunes out. Sybil talks about her love of lawnmowers and dog food, which the guy ignores only to interrupt her about his “poop elves” story.

It’s a Valentines Day in Kankakee. The birds are chirping and Sybil is tweeting online about how excited she is about her new man and the mystery gifts he keeps teasing her about.

It is 11:30 and Sybil is on the phone trying to double down on debt. Operations Manager Mike Philips comes by with a delivery.

“Flowers for Sybil!”

Sybil hangs upon the debtor and immediately logs off the telephones. The long, green and cream box, sealed with packing tape, came from New Jersey. Sybil gets out her scissors. She struggles for 20 minutes and finally opens the box. Inside are 12 longstemmed roses individually attached to the box by hard plastic fasteners.

Sybil’s frustration grows as her scissors are not enough to loosen the delicate roses from their restraints, so she grabs a set of pliers from her drawer after five minutes of searching.

Finally, the flowers are out. Thankfully, the potential suitor included a vase. Sybil goes to the ladies’ washroom, fills the vase with water from the sink, and puts the haphazard bouquet on her desk.

Sybil calls her mystery man to thank him.

“You just won Valentine’ Day!” he says to her.

“I did?” Sybil sighs.

“Well, did anyone else get as much as you today?” He asks.

“I do not know. I did not look…and I am not that impressed by gifts. I am more of an acts of service person. I like when people do stuff for me,” Sybil tells the gentleman.

“Look in the box, Sybil.”

She looks in the box. She uncovers a movie ticket.

“You and I can go to the opening of Aim High tonight! I cannot wait to meet you!” he says.

“You sound familiar. What is your name, mine is Sybil.”

“Damien.”

“Oh, you’re PJ’s son. I remember you.” Sybil tells Damien, remembering the terror that communal narcissist Damien caused by mentally abusing his former wife, Lori.

“I know, I know, I know…I will meet you tonight at the show, M’lady Madame. I have long red hair, an orange neckbeard and I wear a black fedora.”

“Right. See ya.” Sybil says to Damien hangs up the phone and laughs.

Sybil dials Dorian James.

“Yup.”

“I got a movie ticket for you. Aim High. Tonight’s the opening night. It is all yours. Have fun!” Sybil tells Dorian.

“Allll-right! Be right over.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Konrad Cooks the Books

“Get back in the kitchen, this pot is about to boil over!” Madeline Topolla-Teirant calls out to her husband, Konrad “Kon” Teirant who is reading the CRASS company ledger in the washroom.

Kon washes his hands, flicks the water on the floor (a trick he had learned from Teirant Cinema-13 clerk Damien Hurlbutt) and struts into the kitchen. He sets the ledger atop a shelf in the cupboard.

“Madeline, I can do this myself. No need to tell me how to cook. Go on and watch the kiddos.” Konrad gestures Madeline to leave the room.

Konrad stirs the pot of his turkey soup. He made sure to put in loads of veggies because they cost less than turkey. Konrad hears a loud banshee-esque squeal come from the living room and dashes out.

“Bratley? What are you doing?” Konrad walks over to him.

“Waaaaaaaaaah! I want my toys!”

Konrad yells at Bratley because he has little patience for children. He only had them because he can. He usually leaves the parenting to his wife Madeline because he would rather make money. Meanwhile chaos unfolds in the kitchen.

Chanel # 5 and * climb up the kitchen counters, tear up the CRASS ledger into a confetti mess and put the flakes into the soup like they are special spices. They hear their daddy coming so the close the cover of the book back up and place it back on the cupboard shelf so they do not get in trouble.

“I told you kids not to play on the kitchen counters! Now go do your homework or you are going to bed without any supper!”

Kon begins stirring the pot.

The next morning, all of CRASS is sent a company email to announce the new CRASS initiave:

From: Teirant, Konrad (konteirant@crass-llc.con)

To: CRASS, LLC (all-crass-l@crass-ll.con)

Subject: Food for everyone!

Dear CRASS employees:

It is with great pleasure I announce the newest CRASS publicity initiave: Triple down on each call to raise money for the new CRASS Stage! If we raise enough money to name the Kankakee Senior Center stage after us, we can help promote CRASS, LLC as a community leader.

To help celebrate our new publicity effort, I brought in turkey soup, enough for everybody this time! Enjoy! Be sure to only log off during your designated 15 minute breaks to enjoy my cooking.

Most importantly, remember to ask each debtor for three times what they can afford to pay! Submit a Form 5 for each triple-down. Each bonus will go toward the stage-naming initiative to make CRASS look good, instead of your paycheck. You do want to keep your job, right?

Happy Monday!

Konrad Teirant

“Want some soup?” Dale asks Sybil. “I’ll spoon feed it to you,” a hopeful Dale says with a grin.

“Go away, Dale. I have work to do,” Sybil snarks as she downs a dog biscuit at her desk.

Dale slurps his soup at his desk before he logs onto the autodialer.

Operations Manager Mike Philps helps himself to two bowls while he watches the collectors stress out over asking for three times what the debtors can afford.

“Why aren’t these folks making production?” a stern Tara Bull asks Sybil Kibble as Tara sips some greasy turkey soup.

“I will keep on pushing for those Triple Downs and Form 5s.” Sybil tells a beleagueured Tara.

Kon sits in his office surfing Fakebook Flat-Earth pages as well as the Qannon droppings. He feels his belly begin to rumble. “Must be a quake of this flat planet,” Kon says to himself as he gets up.

A line forms outside the CRASS washrooms. Tara Bull joins the queue. “Why are people taking so long?” Tara mumbles under her breath.

A stench wafts from the mens’ room. Konrad emerges.

“Did I do that?” Kon slyly asks. The lined-up employees giggle.

CRASS Chief Mack. E. Avelli walks over the the office of Mike Philips to order fixed the toilet Kon clogged.

Since Kon’s idea failed miserably, he took the rest of his greasy, tainted turkey soup to Teirant Cinema-13 to “treat” his employees there.

“Ooooh, thank ya boss! Well actually, I just constipated myself by eating six antacids in a row so I do not have to use the toitie all night!” a certain clerk named Damien Hurlbutt excitedly tells Kon.

“Thanks for the information. Enjoy and get to work.”

Damien drinks the soup right down.

“Ahhhhh.”

“Puttt” goes Damien’s butt.

“Pardon me. Pheeeeeww!”

Damien’s stomach begins to grumble, really grumble. Damien gets up, ripping more farts as he walks and does the Scoot-And-Poot to blast as much gas he possibly can.

Konrad looks for Damien and he is not at the ticket counter.

“Where are you Damien? People are lining up and they need to buy their tickets. Imma gon fire you if you do not come back!”

A stench wafts from the men’s room.

“Nevermind…”