A man praised on social media for buying all of a Girl Scout’s cookies has pleaded guilty to plotting to kill a prosecutor and witnesses. Police seized heroin, cocaine, fentanyl and about $1 million in cash from him.
In my business–which is really not a traditional line of commerce so much as a criminal enterprise–you’ve got to have strong links at every point in your supply chain. It’s not enough that you have the best product, or the highest level of equity capital, or the most talented employees. It’s not even that important to have an outstanding image on social media, although God knows that’s important among Gen X, Y and Z and the rest of the letters in the last quarter of the alphabet.
No, it’s just as important to have vendors and trading partners you can count on in a pinch, like the young ladies of Girl Scout Troop 3746. Their motto–actually, it’s the motto of all Girl Scouts across the country–is “Skills today. Success tomorrow,” and boy have they come through for me, time and again.
Every time I move a lot of product and need to, shall we say, “recycle” my ill-gotten gains through a legitimate business, the Girl Scouts have been there for me. Too much unexplained cash on hand because you dumped a pallet load of cocaine in LA? A few kilos of heroin in New York? A shipment of non-prescription fentanyl–which is not, like it sounds, a flowering plant that can be used as a garnish or an herb–that’s fennel. Talk to the Scoutmaster, she’ll find a couple hundred spare boxes of Tagalongs or Do-Si-Dos to make you appear as pure as the driven snow. Quicko-presto-change-o, what was formerly “fruit of the poisonous tree“–if some over-zealous prosecutor happened to grab it without a search warrant–is now mouth-watering confections from “the preeminent leadership development organization for girls.”
I sidle up to the folding table outside the Nomar Garciaparra Elementary School and begin to nod and wink at Emily Pennybaker, whom I’ve used to “fence” contraband before. A stolen Barbie or Midge doll, a Little Mermaid lunch box, a 48-color box of Crayola Crayons–small-ticket items but hey, a guy’s gotta keep busy.
“Do you have Tourette’s or something?” she says in a reserved tone. I’m caught off-guard at first, then I realize she’s “playing the game” in case there are truant officers or hall monitors lurking nearby to entrap us.
“Huh? Oh, yeah, yeah. Got it bad. Liable to blurt out some obscenity at any moment–‘fishstick,’ ‘nimmynot,’ ‘doody-head’–so, if you don’t mind, I’d like to buy some cookies, fast.”
“You mean ‘quickly.’ ‘Fast’ is an adjective, which modifies a noun. ‘Quickly’ modifies the verb ‘buy,’ it tells me how you want to buy them.”
I got to say, the kid’s a pro. She’s got the goody-goody grammar school pose down pat. “Oh, thanks. I, uh, stand corrected.”
“What kind do you want?”
“Well, uh, the Thin Mints are my favorites.”
“They’re everybody’s favorite. How many boxes do you want?”
“How many can I get for”–at this point I fish in my Toy Story tri-fold wallet and act like I’m seein’ how much discretionary income I got–“a million dollars?”
“Let’s see,” Emily says, as she scans down her price list. “For a million dollars, you can get . . . two boxes.”
“You heard me.”
“That’s armed robbery!” I say, my voice shaking. “Girl Scout cookies are sold for $2.50 to $4.00 per box, depending on the troop’s location, to cover both the current cost of cookies and the realities of providing Girl Scout activities in an ever-changing economic environment. Check the website.”
“I’m quoting you the ‘street’ value. You don’t like it, go buy yourself a box of crappy Keebler Fudge Shoppe Grasshopper Mint Cookies. There’s a 7-11 right around the corner.”
She’s got me by the short hairs. I open up my billfold and start to count off 10,000 $100 bills. That’s enough Benjamins to stock a lot of alt-rock bands, overpriced espresso joints and English faculty lounges, all of which abound with Benjamins and Christians and Jareds, so if you want, take a break and come back when I’m done.
(. . .)
Several hours later, the bills are stacked high in front of Emily, and she forks over my cookies. “Pleasure doing business with you,” she says. The feeling isn’t mutual, but at least I’ve converted my cash into a highly-portable commodity that won’t draw the attention of the Goody Two-Shoes at the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Homeland Security, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the National Football League or any of the other forty-eleven agencies with overlapping jurisdiction to fight money laundering. I just need to find somebody to re-sell these things to at a fair price so I can recoup some small fraction of my investment and my criminal dignity.
I’m not optimistic, but just as I’ve hit full mope mode who do I see coming down the street but George B. Minot, III, heir to the Minot Envelope-Licking Machine fortune. He’s straight out of a Richie Rich comic book–if any kid in the neighborhood is walking around with a million dollars to spare, it’s him.
“Hey Gay-org,” I call out to him, using the European pronunciation his mater prefers.
“Hullo,” he replies, subtly disguising the fact that he doesn’t remember my name, or for that matter give a hamster’s ass who I am.
“You interested in a couple boxes of heirloom Girl Scout Cookies?”
“Heirloom you say?”
“Right–like the tomatoes. Handed down from rich ancestors–should be right up your alley!”
He takes a look at my stash and sniffs the sniff of a boy who hasn’t bought anything in so long that his credit cards are starting to throb. “All right–how much do you want?”
I hesitate for a moment. I don’t want to blow the sale, but I don’t want to lose my shirt, either. It’s nice, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles “throwback” model, with pre-distressed armpit holes.
“I dunno, I was hoping to get . . . nine hundred-fifty thousand.”
“Fine. I’ve got ten hundred thousand dollar bills–can you break one?”
I never would taken Georgie-Boy for a counterfeiter, but I got him dead to rights. The U.S. hasn’t had a bill that big since 1936, when Woodrow Wilson, the “progressive” Democrat who re-segregated the federal government, got his mug on pieces of paper money.
“You must think I just fell off a turnip truck,” I say with heavy sarcasm. “Those disappeared a long time ago, and anyway they were only used for transactions between Federal Reserve Banks.”
He laughs a mirthless laugh, one that is full of money, like the voice of Fitzgerald’s Daisy Buchanan. “Yes, I suppose I do think that of you.”
“How do you think I control the economy if I don’t have a Federal Reserve Bank of my own?”