One night, while I was living in Rochester I received a strange phone call from a woman that claimed to know me, but wouldn't tell me who she was. After a bunch of hints, I guessed it was my little cousin Jenny. After talking for an hour, I wanted to reconnect with that part of the family - she had two brothers only a few years younger than me. So, that one call from Jenny, led to me driving up for a weekend to see her brothers Jeff Gusciora/Thiessen and Jamie Gusciora. We had a few beers and just bummed around for the weekend. Jamie would head out for the Navy a few months later. I would do this a bunch of times for the next year.
I wanted to move from Rochester to Minneapolis and eventually finish college at the University of Minnesota. This would be my way to ease myself into moving up to the Twin Cities. The re-acquainting started nice, but I soon learned anything of value would disappear like cupcakes at a pot party with him around. I figured he was only on the edge of petty crap, and I could deal with it, and separate myself.
Jeff drove a very nice car, a late model Ford Probe. He always kept it clean and running well. I couldn't figure out how he could afford such a nice car while only working as a receptionist for his mother. I later found out he also worked as a card dealer at some club that taught blackjack card-counting for people that thought they could beat the system. He was also learning to count cards as part of his compensation. While we were driving around in the Ford Probe I managed to burn the passenger seat throwing bottle rockets out while we were driving. It was only a small burn, and most of it rubbed out. Jeff did charge me $40 to have it repaired, from some guy he supposedly knew.
I had been coming up to Jeff's apartment for the past year for long weekends. I could make it up in 90 minutes, party a weekend away, and be back in Rochester for work without a problem. Well, after living in Rochester for a little over a year I finally I moved up and into his apartment in Burnsville with his buddy Gary. This apartment was temporary living quarters, while we were waiting for the end of the month to move into our new apartment (Hampshire Hill) in West Bloomington. Jeff, Gary, and I moved into Hampshire Hill. Jeff and I shared a room (with his damn cat), Gary had his own room, and I had the underground parking.
Before I made the move up to the metro, Jeff secured a job at one of the busiest and best Indian run casinos in the country - Mystic Lake Casino (I usually call it Mistake Lake). He was a change person in the slot machine area. I made sure I had a job ahead of time at the Radisson downtown Minneapolis, doing room service.
Back to Mistake Lake, a couple weeks into this new living arrangement, Jeff is home with a large wad of cash. He was trying to con the casino. He slipped out for a spell, took the van to his car at the employee parking lot, and put his bank (a little over $700) up on the front tire, under the fender and out of sight. He slipped back into the casino. After a while into into his shift he reported his bank was stolen while he was counting out money for some lady. Jeff knew where all the cameras where, so when they reviewed everything they saw nothing. They searched Jeff, his locker, his clothes, and then just sent him home for the day to review everything. He ended up terminated with 2 weeks severance and the cash he stole.
Me, not being very bright at the time, suggested to my supervisor, who needed a new night phone person, Jeff was looking for a job. She said I should have him call her. I told Jeff, who was busing spending the dirty cash. A couple weeks later, she asked if he was going to call or when could I get him in to see her. I explained my philosophy to her,
"If he doesn't come in under his own desire, you probably don't want him working for you. I'm not his keeper, and I don't hold his hand and bring him to work"
She didn't like my answer, so she called our apartment, and talked to him. He interviewed and started within a week. I worked mornings, and Jeff worked the evening shift. We'd see each other in passing for a couple hours on work days. Gary worked graveyard, so we all had different shifts.
I did have the opportunity to work evenings a few times. The cash was better with more expensive meals and booze with meals. The night people liked working with him and everything was running smooth. Perhaps my bad judgment wasn't so bad after all, with regards to getting Jeff a job at the same place I worked?
One of the nights I worked, to pick up some extra cash was on New Year's Eve. The University of Minnesota basketball team coaching staff did a big New Year's Eve celebration. Clem Haskins was the head coach of the team, who went on to completely disgrace the team. Clem and the boys were to get anything and everything they wanted, all night long. Taxpayers would foot this bill, funneled through the university, through some foundation of alumni players. They blew through thousands in booze and food. Fortunately they were also great tippers. When we got home Jeff showed me a nice bottle of Opus One that "fell" into his duffle bag sometime that night. I would later take possession of that bottle, as payback for something Jeff owed me. But, I never spoke about it at work.
Gary was that guy at the bottom rung at work, that knew better than anyone how to do every job at the company better than the people who had been doing it for years. He couldn't figure out why he wasn't management. Arriving to work late, every day, wasn't helping. Gary started to be a problem with me, as he was having the fellas over on an all too frequent basis on days when I'd have to get up early the next morning. Jeff would be at work, and I'd be trying to sleep because I'd have to get up at 4:30am for work. My relationship weakened when I threatened Gary, and told him he was just promoted to management at the apartment. But, with that he was now in charge of his friends, and if I was woken again, by any one of them - he would take it out in beatings I would administer.
Things eased back to normal after a while, but Gary still had Cliff Clavin syndrome (he knew everything). He claimed to have dated an Asian girl once, and said he would never date another because she a long hair coming straight out of the center of her nipple. He's probably dating someone with an Adams apple today!
Jeff had his mother and stupid blonde Eden Prairie girlfriend stopping over all the time. The Blonde stayed over all the time, and mooched money. I think her mother made the newspaper once, one of those special articles about how the government isn't doing enough for single mothers. There was picture of her sister and mother in the article. The mother's purse was open in the photo, with a full carton of smokes. Letters to the editor were crushing her mother for months, so she continued to stay with us. I brought up the idea of charging her for rent, Gary agreed, but it only ended in a fight with Jeff so we let it go.
Jeff comes from a short-line of gamblers. Like most gamblers, Jeff usually lost but bragged about the wins. I went with a couple times and observed. He was a great gambler, but a shitty better. We formed a Blackjack alliance where I was the bank. I controlled the money in my account and in bet amounts at the casino. After a few trips we pulled our initial investment back out and had a decent bankroll playing with the casino's money. We did have to go to the casino in Red Wing, MN (Treasure Island), because Jeff was banned at Mistake Lake).
Suddenly Jeff had to buy new tires and wheels for his car. Somebody ratted him out because it had stolen rims, and he knowingly bought them stolen. This is when he told me about the fate of his old Probe.
By this time Jeff was driving a 5 or 6 year old vanilla Chevy Camaro. He told me he knew some - less than reputable people, and he owed them a favor for something. Jeff sold the car to these guys for cash, who stripped it of anything of value, then dumped it in a lake near Lakeville, MN. Jeff took the cash, then reported the car stolen to the police and insurance. When the investigators chatted him up about the stolen rims he sang like a canary. He told cops everything, for reduced penalty himself (insurance fraud was at the top of their list). Think the other bad guys were happy?
He had to turn his rims in because they were reported as stolen property. I paid out his half of the casino gambling profits which equaled the wheels. Around this time I noticed Jeff was coming home from work with more and more expensive booze. One night he returned and woke me up to show me 2 bottles of Dom Pérignon, and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, and some other assorted stuff. I was impressed, but I didn't want to know the facts about them.
I know how slow I must sound, but I started to come around, and I wanted to get back to simple life without police investigations. I guessed if I was with him enough, some of this might blow back on me.
I was more frustrated than an Amish Electrician the way Jeff would steal at OUR workplace. There are few things worse than chili strained thru a dog, this was one of them. I put in a proper 2 week notice at the Radisson. This would render me ineligible for rehire due to a corporate policy that any employment term under a year was ineligible for rehire. I was still on good terms otherwise. My boss and colleagues knew I was under massive stress, and they heard other stories about Jeff screwing around all night in areas he didn't really need to be.
Jeff was fired right before my last day. It was typical for Human Resources to conduct an exit interview on the last day of work. My supervisor requested to do my exit interview. Everything went well, until, she explained a mysterious phone call she received recently. A woman called and gave her the last name of a sweet aunt of mine - NOT Jeff's mom. She claimed to be worried about me because I was stealing all this alcohol from work. She said I stole everything that was missing. She said the woman claimed to really be worried about me, and that's why she called. Boss never thought that call was legit, we worked closely for months and she didn't think I had a bad kleptomaniac character flaw. Then and today I think Jeff's evil mother claimed to be my youngest Aunt claiming to be worried about me. Jeff's mother, Audrey, is very EVIL!!! That woman could sell icebergs to the captain of the Titanic, pitched as hull upgrades.
I had heard a few months later that cousin Jeff left Minnesota for Florida. He was trying to escape the wrath of those he sold out regarding his former Ford Probe found at the bottom of a lake. Supposedly, somebody wanted him to pay for his indiscretion of ratting them out, so Jeff left town.
I know he was back in Minnesota, at least long enough to get into trouble again. His mother made him a mule for doing some illegal bank deposits. You can read all about it here. He may be back, but I'm not looking.