By the end of the day, the Big Top Supplies warehouse parking lot was empty—except, of
course, for Bessie and the truck full of melted circus peanuts. They were exhausted, but they
were on cloud nine.
"Please please please please please please!"
"Cassie, I don’t think this is the best place for you."
"Mandy, if you only knew how much I love this company." She paused for a moment. "Now
granted, Mr. Topler really screwed up. But I’m committed to making things better again since I
know that he is too. He has a good heart. And I need to keep this job for many years to come."
"But this is collecting money—calling customers and asking them to pay for things they
bought four or five years ago. I guarantee it has all been written off and they’re going to laugh in
your face. It’s going to be ugly, and I mean really ugly."
"I’m ready for ugly, I really am. Pleeeeese."
She hated it when Cassie begged. Mandy hesitated for a moment.
"OK, but you must make at least thirty calls a day, and we had better have at least a million
dollars out of you by the end of the week. Otherwise, I’m sending you back to Gary."
"Thank you, thank you, thank you. You won’t be disappointed, I promise."
Cassie was smiling from ear to ear as she ran around the desk and gave Mandy a big bear
hug. Mandy was hoping that the million dollars would scare her off. Her other collectors only
had quotas of twenty calls and one hundred thousand dollars a week. Now she hoped no one
would let Cassie in on her secret, because all she really needed right now was warm bodies with
unbroken dialing fingers.
Cassie sashayed across the floor chanting, "Mandy caved! Mandy caved!" so all could hear.
No time like the present to get started. Mandy looked at the first account on the list. Adam’s
Apple Big Fun Place. "Let’s see, their past due balance is $143,692.46. Never made a payment.
Oh, and look, we’re still shipping to them. $20,000 just last week."
She dialed the phone and took a deep breath. "Accounts payable please."
"AP, Chrissie speaking," said a voice that sounded more like a man than a Chrissie.
"Hello, Chrissie, my name is Mandy Maloney, and I’m calling from Big Top Supplies. How
are you today?"
"Good. Whadda you want?"
"Chrissie, Adam’s Apple has a large past due balance with Big Top. I’d like to find out
when we can expect payment." "Hold on." Clunk went the phone.
Mandy could hear talking but couldn’t make anything out. After several minutes Chrissie
came back on the line.
"Check went out yesterday. We heard there was some trouble at Big Top, so the manager
released your money. It’s been sitting around earning interest for a while."
"Great. Can you tell me where the check was sent?" She didn’t trust that funds weren’t still
being diverted into Louis’s bank account.
"I remember changing the remit to. Winter Falls, Florida, I think it was."
"Terrific, Chrissie! Thanks for your help."
"Well, that was easy," she said as she hung up the phone. "Maybe Cassie can collect a
million dollars per week after all."
Number two on the list—Buffalo Barney’s Wild West Show. Balance of $52, 384.23.
"Hello, this is Mandy Maloney from Big Top Supplies. Buffalo Barney’s has an overdue
balance with Big Top, and I’d like to know when we can expect payment." Click went the line.
She dialed again. "This is Mandy Maloney again. I think we were cut off."
"In your dreams, lady. I hung up on you. Get lost."
"The outstanding balance is severely past due."
"I could give a shit. Tell your troubles to someone who cares."
"Can I speak with your manager?"
Clunk. A different voice came over the phone. "Yeah?"
Mandy went through the introduction again. "When can we expect your payment?"
"Why do you say never?"
"Davy Jones called me last week—said I had hit the jackpot and our slate had been wiped
clean. Big Top is out of business. So we owe you nothing. Wrote if off already. Get it? I owe
you nothing."
"Who is Davy Jones?"
"Well, if you don’t know, lady, then I can’t help you. But he’s a nice guy and you ought to
hire more like him. What a sorry piece of crap that Big Top is, anyway. Your products suck too.
Now Three Ring—they have their act together."
"Big Top is alive and well and is certainly not out of business. We shipped you a gross of
balloons just yesterday, for that matter. Your past due balance is now due and payable."
"Tough shit, lady. Not paying." Click went the receiver.
"Now Three Ring—they have their act together," she said mockingly as she hung up the
phone. "Yeah, right. They invented the term ‘you suck.’"
Mandy had a sinking feeling that another Louis and Larry caper was about to be uncovered.
She e-mailed Tiffany in human resources and asked, "Do we have an employee named Davy
Jones? If so, where does he work?"
A few minutes later the reply came.
"Davy Jones was an employee here from 1997 until 2003. He was terminated for
insubordination by Gary Blissler. He was hired back as a consultant in 2004. His last assignment
was in credit and collections."
"He was fired and then we hired him back? And now he works for lucky me. Great." She
shook her head in disbelief.
"Gary, do you know Davy Jones?"
"Davy Jones? Hmmm. Sounds familiar. Why?"
"You fired him and someone hired him back. Now he works for me, only no one knows
who he is. Can’t find him anywhere."
"Are you sure he still works here?"
"He’s calling up customers and telling them they don’t have to pay their bills. He’s saying
Big Top is out of business."