Myself, my brother Chris and our friend Gary went to some training in July, and it has been an absolute disaster since the onset.
So much so that my brother decided to make his very first contribution to Chop’s Guide telling this story.
I will add my thoughts randomly throughout the article.
I laughed, I cried… I peed a little.
Well, recently myself, my brother, and our good friend Gary decided to attend training at Southern Missouri Judicial Services in Springfield.
What was supposed to be a 2-day course full of information, learning, and fun has morphed in to something that can best be described as a month of anger, dissatisfaction, and loathing (much like my first marriage).
Chop: I was the best man at that wedding, he isn’t lying… talk about getting the short end of the stick.
At the end of July, we went down the day before training, so we didn’t have to drive the hour and a half distance before spending twelve hours sitting in a classroom. This is where things started going down hill.
When we made it to Springfield, we had not made reservations at any hotels, so we were just driving around looking for one. The first one, a Days Inn not only wanted a retarded amount for the room, but also wanted an additional hundred bucks for a deposit. I can only assume they must have seen Gary and decided they needed the pet deposit.
We decided to pass on that place and finally decided on the Best Western Route 66 Rail Haven Inn. This was mainly due to the fact that there were three of us and this room had bunk beds.
Chop: I stayed here on my very first trip to Springfield and knew it was decent and reasonably priced. None of the other places had cots or offered three beds that we could find.
These are no ordinary bunk beds mind you, no sir, these bunk beds were designed and built during the Medieval Inquisition in order to break the spirits of those who would not confess. Although, other than the bunk beds from hell, the hotel was pretty nice and the blonde working the desk during the mornings was really cute.
Chop: Yes she was. Hey Best Western, tell her about your boy Chop!
After checking in, we went to meet a friend of Gary’s for dinner at Old Chicago.
Chop: This guy also happened to know our nephew through Gary so making fun of him gave us common ground to start our conversation. 🙂
This in itself was not bad as I have always loved Old Chicago, but we soon found out they don’t have NTN (National Trivia Network aka Buzztime) at this location, so we were forced to talk to one another. I guess that’s ok, but four Neanderthals stuffing appetizers and calzones down their throats as fast as they can doesn’t leave much room for good conversation or proper etiquette for that matter. After eating we did sit around for a while and had a few laughs (about our nephew – Chop), so, all in all, it wasn’t a bad evening until we returned to the hotel.
After our better than average meal, we returned to the hotel to settle in for the night. The air conditioner in the main room worked pretty well, but the one in my room sounded similar to the flight deck of the USS Nimitz. I thought it was going to be the worst part of the stay until I laid down on the Judas Cradle of a bed.
The piercing feeling of split wood and the broken souls of those who stayed on it before me were not going to make it a pleasant night. This coupled with the constant fear of being crushed by the collapsing top bunk every time Gary rolled over just topped it all off.
The next morning I awoke bright and early to the eerily silent A/C, so our room was quiet enough to hear the loud popping noises of either my dislocated bones or the strained bunk bed frame.
After stretching and repositioning my liver, I went in to the other room to scrounge for coffee. After overcoming the overwhelming urge to smother Chop with a pillow after seeing him in a nice, comfy, king sized bed, I decided to shower and grab some chow. The bathroom was actually really nice with some cool 1960’s decor. Aside from the shower head which was just about the right height for Tyrion Lannister, it was pretty nice.
After my shower and deciding not to kill Chop for the second time I went to the lobby for the free breakfast and more coffee. The food was good and the cute blonde serving it made it that much better. Shortly after, the other guys joined me, we finished eating and headed for class. I grabbed another five coffees for the road, and we were off.
Chop: She was cute, only ever saw her while busy as fuck for breakfast, so there was never the right time to try to get a name or number, though I guess it was better than sitting an hour and a half away writing about it… Seize the Carp and shit. Also, they had a pretty decent breakfast, minus the tiny coffee cups.
We arrived at the training site at 0700 just as the receptionist had told us during registration only to find locked doors and a dark building. We sat around for a while just waiting and and packing our bodies with enough caffeine and nicotine to make it through the morning.
A little while later, another trainee arrived in a pretty sweet Dodge Challenger RT (Orange with black racing stripes and manual – Chop). Her name was Jaretta, and she ended up being the only other person in class aside from us. She was pretty cool, and we got to know each other over the next two days. The instructor finally showed up about 0’late thirty ish and opened the class so we could get started.
His name was Chris, and he had his K9 named Recon with him (Recon was a super excited, cuddly, surprisingly obedient bomb sniffing dog… I want to spend the whole class just being attacked by recon because he wanted to be petted – Chop). We all proceeded inside to find the classroom, and much to our surprise it was like getting off of a plane in Baghdad when the 104 degree Celsius air hit your face. He did crank the A/C (all the way down to 50°F – Chop) on and by the end of the day it was a chilly 97 inside. I suddenly missed the jet engine air conditioner of our hotel.
In similar fashion to their A/C, the power point projector, most of the lights, the laptop, and pretty much every other amenity of the training room would not function (including the thing we were most excited about for this training, the FAS (Firearms Simulator) – Chop). It all seems par for the course for what we know of SMOJS at this point. We did get some books full of statute and case law, although they were printed backwards, so we had to start at the back of the book and read right to left, hey, maybe we were back in Iraq after all. The instructor did his best to keep us entertained and involved, but it is a little tricky when the subject matter reads like a VCR manual narrated by Ben Stein.
We trogged through the morning, taking a few breaks to go outside and cool off in the nice Missouri summertime air. Eventually, lunch time rolled around and the whole group went to Ichiban Chinese buffet which was pretty good. Unfortunately, we had to return to that Jamaican sweatshop of a training room shortly thereafter. We learned all about the Missouri insurance business in great detail. Everything from writing policies to selling them basically. It was very informative, the only problem was that we were there to learn about bail bonding.
Somewhere around the end of the first day, I think we were all questioning our decision to venture in to this line of work, but we were already committed. We successfully completed our first day, and aside from frying a few brain cells on the course material and losing 17 pounds of perspiration, it was a good day.
That night Chop wanted to go to Cafe Cusco, a Peruvian restaurant there in Springfield and Gary and I reluctantly agreed.
Chop: To date, Cafe Cusco is my favorite eatery in Springfield, mostly due to the beef heart. It tastes like super tender steak, I need to write a Chop’s Guide review of this place one day… go try it, you pussy.
We got inside and were asked if we had a reservation, even though it was only about half full. Of course, we did not, but we were seated immediately anyway, so I am not exactly sure why they asked.
We started off with our drink order as with any dinner, I ordered the coffee because I am kind of a coffee nut, and I have to admit it was some of the best coffee I have had in a long time (and it came in a big ass mug – Chop). Chop ordered us an appetizer, the wrong appetizer. He meant to order beef heart skewers and ended up ordering some kind of mustardy cheese fries which we ate anyway.
Chop: We still ordered the beef heart, I was not missing out on this.
We ordered our entree’s, Gary and I ordered goat burgers and Chop ordered some strange concoction that was made on the back of a Yak or something. Anyway, the food was pretty decent.
Chop: OK so these are the things we actually ordered, for the record I would have so ordered Yak.
The first appetizer that I fucked up on, Fritas a la Huancaina: Sweet Potato, Yucca, and Steak Fries covered with zesty cheese sauce, cilantro and marinated red onions.
The intended appetizer, Anticuchos Pobre: Zesty marinated beef heart kebab.
Gary and Chris had Goat Sanguchon: Home-ground, seasoned goat burger topped with provolone, fried egg and crispy potato straws.
My order, Aji de Gallina: Chicken and potato in a yellow pepper, oregano cream, and bread crumb sauce, with parmesan and cilantro and garlic rice.
After dinner we didn’t really do much, just went back to the hotel to study some of the insurance adjuster books we were provided and talk about our future business venture. Gary decided we should go sit in the hot tub. I was reluctant, but anything had to be better than the Chinese Iron Maiden of a bed so why not, hot tub it is.
Gary was first out there, and he texted and said there was nobody else in the pool area, so we went out, only to be, immediately followed by 14 families who all had the same idea. We all sat down to relax in the hot tub for a minute before one of the families decided to bring their children over and let them practice their cannon balls in the hot tub. Needless to say, the hot tub experience was, short lived. We decided to retire to the room and call it a night.
Back in the room, Gary decided his spleen couldn’t handle another night on the little bunk bed or horrors, so he decided the king sized bed was big enough for him and Chop (much to my dismay – Chop). To each their own I suppose. I took a quick shower to wash off the urine filled pool water and then kicked on the TV for a few minutes and laid down on “The Rack.” The relaxing sound of the McDonald Douglas A/C overpowered the TV, so I decided to just go to sleep.
Chop: Gary made a big deal about putting a pillow wall between us on the bed, acting like he doesn’t want him some Chop… you don’t have to lie to make friends, Gary.
The next morning I realized that it didn’t really matter if anyone was on the top bunk, it still creaked and popped like it was on the verge of collapse. I quickly hopped out of bed before being crushed and grabbed a quick shower and walked out to find Gary oddly trying to cuddle up to Chop in what looked like a scene from a cheap porn hub video, disturbing (TOLD YOU! – Chop). Gary batting his eyelashes and asking “Do you vape, bro?” That was enough of that for me, put my boots on and then off for coffee and breakfast and another chance to see the cute blonde. Half a dozen mini-coffees later we were on the road headed to class for day two.
Jaretta was pulling in to the training location when we arrived, and again we spent a little while waiting on them to open up. They finally did, around the same time as the day before, but this time we weren’t expecting anything less. What was surprising (and super pleasant – Chop) to us all was that after letting the A/C run all night in the building it had cooled down to a brisk 92 inside. The second day of training was supposed to be more hands on instead of a law review, but as none of the other peripherals would work, it was mostly conversation and reading from the book. We did have a few minutes of handcuffing instruction for Jaretta once we found a functional pair in the box of rusted ones on their table. After sweating to the oldies for as long as we could the class was finally over.
We may not have actually learned anything to do with bail bonding, but hey, at least it wasn’t fun either.
I guess the only positive thing that came from it was meeting our new friend Jaretta. Anyway, much to our surprise at the end of the training we did not receive our training certificates as promised. We were told that the owner of SMOJS would have to do our certificates and we would get them on Monday. I have been to literally hundreds of training sessions and seminars all over the world, and you almost always get your certificate at the end, but not here, they do it the SMOJS way!
After training had finished, we all grabbed a meal at TGI Fridays, watched Gary plow through the endless appetizers and hone his cock-blocking skills while Chop was trying to flirt.
Chop: I wasn’t exactly trying to flirt but Jaretta is cute and seemed like a cool person, and though I am certain the option was never there, I would prefer to keep that door open rather than have it slammed by cock-blocking abilities only rivaled by our other brother Aaron. I am sure Aaron would take Gary under his wing though, and I bet Aaron would give the training certificate the day cock-block class ended. This only further reinforces my earlier suspicion that Gary really did not want that pillow wall.
Then we decided to hit a few stores while we were in town. On our way over to Kelly’s Tactical, we happened upon an attractive young lady broken down in the middle of the road bawling her eyes out. It seems as though the men of Springfield are all dickholes and appear to know nothing of chivalry or common courtesy for that matter.
Chop: This poor girl had a whole line of cocksuckers honking at her and just all around being douchebags, she had been sitting at this intersection for hours apparently waiting for a tow truck.
We pulled over just through the intersection, walked back to help push her car out of the middle of the road. As soon as we got there, a damn cute female Springfield PD officer pulled up as well and blocked traffic for us. The three of us then pushed her car about 30 meters down the road and in to an alley so she could wait for a tow truck. She and the officer both thanked us and we went on our way feeling we had done our good deed for the day. We stopped at Kelly’s tactical and then headed home.
Chop: I mentioned both the girl and officer being cute as and started catching hell from Gary about not talking to them or giving them one of my cards. I didn’t want to risk Cock-block Petifurd rearing his ugly head again, I may have stabbed him, but I relented and asked Chris to drive me back over there, sadly the tow truck was already there, so we didn’t stop. Dammit.
After getting back home, we quickly began doing all the follow-up work for our licensing process, scheduled the exam, fingerprints, DNA sample, signing over of our first born children, etc. Chop, and I scheduled our exams for the following Monday in order to get the process wrapped up as soon as possible and get the doors to this new business division open.
Monday rolled around, we were once again off to Springfield and eager to get our state licensing exams out of the way. We made our way to the college who was hosting the test, and after circling the parking lot like a waiting aircraft on approach we finally found a spot, parked and attempted to make our way to the library.
There was a lot of construction going on and several of the entrances were closed with signs warning of falling glass and freshmen. We tried going around but were met with a vertical 20 foot wall and no door. We went the long way around and finally found the main entrance, hoping to locate some kind of “You are here” identifier like at the mall, but with no luck. After launching an all out search effort worthy of the DB Cooper case, we finally found the testing location and were able to begin our exams.
About two seconds in to the test I realized that nothing we had studied from our provided books was relevant to the test. At this point I began to wonder how I would fair. I did my best postulating, theorizing, hypothesizing, and flat out guessing. I even employed the tried and true eeny meany miny moe method, and somehow in the end I miraculously passed. Oh yeah, so did Chop.
Chop: That test fucking sucked, almost nothing we talked about in the class related to anything on the test. The test actually had to do with Bail Bonding, and if I had no previous experience with this stuff from working at Miller County Sheriff’s Department and a little bit of common sense, I would have bombed that exam. I was actually blown away that I did pass it and I generally do well on tests.
After passing and feeling pretty good about ourselves, it was off to get fingerprinted at none other than the UPS store, that’s right, Missouri spares no expense when it comes to their systems.
Chop: Another $40 spent per person because SMOJS’s system was down.
With all of that out of the way, it was back to SMOJS to pick up our certificates. We arrived at their office, the same place we took the training about five minutes before their sign said they opened. After waiting about 30 minutes they finally showed up, and we were again told that they were not available and they would mail them to us. At this point we were still happy that everything was lining up and we would be good to go in just a day or two, so we hopped in the car and headed home once again.
Chop: We told the guy at the office that the test was absolutely nothing like what we went over in class and he asked us to try to remember the questions and email them to him so they could update the class.
We got back to the office and informed Gary to forget everything we had studied as it wasn’t on the exam anyway. He did his best Hank Hill grumble and we moved on. A couple of days later we started calling SMOJS asking about our certificates. We kept getting the same answer, they would take our number and have someone call us. A couple of weeks of this had gone by, and at that point retirement was looking closer than getting our certificates.
Finally, I had had enough and called and threatened to turn them in to the Department of Insurance if they did not contact us back. You see, at this point we were kind of experts in that department as that is all we had studied in their class.
We finally got a call back just over two weeks later and I was told that they had to terminate the instructor of the class and that had been the hold up, but that they were going to fix it. They took down all my information, the same information I had provided them already and said they would send them to us. They then called Chop and Gary to get their info as well, although they told Chop an entirely different story about the instructor, but that’s neither here nor there.
Chop: Here nor there nothing, I’m petty, they told me that the instructor had a family emergency that not only lasted two weeks but made him lose the use of his arms to get us our fucking certificates.
Two more days go by, I called again just to ensure they had in fact dropped them in the mail. Same answers as before, so I was becoming more belligerent. I mean I am not sure what else to do at this point, it was almost like watching a bunch of kids with down syndrome try to perform surgery. They eventually emailed us copies of our certificates and were supposed to drop the originals in the mail so we could get licensed. We got tired of waiting, and on the following Monday, Chop and I decided to take our email copies of our certificates to Jeff City to the DIFP to file, only to find out that the State had declared a holiday because of the solar eclipse. The cosmos really is working against us at this point.
Chop: The signature on the emailed copy they sent us was very obviously a stamp so we figured, or at least talked ourselves into hoping that when the DIFP said that it needed an original signature on the training certificate, it may have only meant the trainee name. It had been long enough that we were willing to try anything that came to mind to get our licenses.
We went home to try it again the next day. Tuesday, we hit it bright and early, we were at the state office when they opened, only to have our hopes and dreams crushed by a very nice lady who said our certificates wouldn’t work because they did not have the original signature of the instructor on them. He had used a stamp instead of signing his name.
You would think someone who had taught this class as many times as that man supposedly has would know this. Oh well, back to calling SMOJS.
I had to stock up on ibuprofen and Tylenol because talking to them gave me a migraine at this point.
We called them once again, but this time I was told that because the instructor was no longer there, we would have to make other arrangements to get our certificates. Mind you, these people still cashed our check and took our money for this course. I sort of lost it.
Finally got a call back a little while later by their HR manager who I believe thought she was going to bully me for losing my temper. After a quick conversation about turning them in to the attorney general for unethical business practices, she changed her tune and agreed to overnight us our certificates.
Chop: The reason we received emailed certificates in the first place was because when they called me about where to send my mailed certificate, I told them that we all also wanted emailed copies. The lady I talked to apparently took this to mean that we only wanted an emailed document and fuck the mailed copy, even though as we found out, we need a physically mailed copy in order to get our licenses. Maybe she thought we just enjoy paying for a sub-par class for absolutely no benefit to us and we were calling just to hear her voice. Fucking clown shoes.
I explained in detail that they needed original signatures, not the stamped or printed ones, I am fairly sure my toddler would have understood clearly at this point.
Well, the following day we received an overnight package, so I excitedly tore it open only to find, you guessed it, stamped signatures. This time, someone had taken an ink pen and tried to trace over the stamp, so at least they looked legit if you were to get drunk, close one eye, then close the other, and feel the indentations in the paper.
Which brings me to my next point, remember kids, Don’t Smoke Crack!
At this point, I am not even sure this Tim guy actually exists. They have a pretty decent racket going though, take your money, teach you some random stuff about some subject that isn’t relevant to your requested training, and send you on your way, Bernie Madoff would be proud. I think I may open a med school and start teaching them wilderness survival or something.
Never the less we went back to the state DIFP office, again met with the awesome people there, showed them what was sent to us, and we all had a good laugh. Long story short, their investigator came down, took the certificates from us, said “Nope, Not Today” and the department manager would be contacting SMOJS, and we left again.
It was somewhere about here we actually called the attorney generals office, the better business bureau, a private attorney, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, the chamber of commerce, and pretty much anyone we could think of to call.
I attempted to call SMOJS again, but I didn’t even get an answer this time. Friday rolls around, I was able to call Natalie from SMOJS, told her what had happened. I immediately get a call back from the illusive “Tim.” He tells me how the instructor who had taught our class had tried to screw him over, (Welcome to our world, Tim – Chop) how he himself had been out dealing with a family emergency, and so on.
I feel for the guy, but never the less it had been a month to the day, so my empathy, patience, and hair are all pretty thin at this point. He also told me that he saw our reviews we left online and he felt they were highly unfair. I won’t comment on that as I am trying to keep this PG for the kids. He told me he personally was sending us new certificates. At this point, I am skeptical but what else can we do.
Chop: I was skeptical long before this point, if we did not receive them EOB on Monday, we were going to get in contact with Tim and tell him to meet us at their office because we were driving down to have him put them in our hands. We were going to be back in Jefferson City on Tuesday to finish this process one way or the other.
We sat around all weekend joking about how we would probably get stamped certificates again, in which case I could only assume maybe the guy can’t sign for some reason, like maybe he has no arms from some tragic farming accident.
Low and behold, Monday rolls around, and we get another letter in the mail. We opened it with less enthusiasm and more nervousness than Chop opening the results of his last blood test (mostly negative bitches! – Chop). Much to our surprise, they appeared to have original signatures.
We smiled, we laughed, we danced a jig as it seemed our wait was finally coming to an end. We immediately jumped in the car and headed to pick Gary up so we could go to the state DIFP office again.
We turned around a minute or two later so Chop could put pants on, it’s amazing how forgetful he is when he gets rushed (or when I’m awake… also, fuck pants… and shoes.), then we were off again. We finally woke Gary up at the crack of noon, and after he threw on some clean clothes and makeup (and enough vape batteries to last the three-hour trip, approximately 40 – Chop) we were finally off to Jeff City.
We got to the building, checked in, and it was like seeing old friends at this point (I almost got a hug – Chop). We were able to turn in our certificates, get our lead times, and we went for a celebratory meal at the local BBQ joint.
To date, we still don’t have our licenses, but at least we have this one major hurdle behind us.
I guess the moral of this story is, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t teach him new tricks. No wait, people in glass houses sink ships, shit, I’m going to go watch Boondock Saints. The end.
Chop: We got our licenses this morning, should be able to use it by tomorrow… I figure if we were not held up for those certificates, at least Chris and I would have been up and running by August 10th at the latest, exactly three weeks ago today.
I wonder how much money we lost.