Thursday, October 06, 2005

Indy's thriving black market

INDIANAPOLIS -- ITC officials were dismayed to discover recently that several ATI students had set up a black market and had successfully operated it for years. A Russian orphan, whose pickpocketing skills were well-honed, worked on the kitchen staff cleaning up after meals. Recognizing a capitalistic opportunity, each day he would filch delicacies from the ITC kitchen. Recruiting a partner, the two ran a healthy "Robin Hood" business with many of the ITC male residents, making the exchanges outside the multi-mirrored Cosmetology class (secrecy guaranteed by several well-placed bribes).

Students traded practically anything in exchange for food, from newspapers (particularly the Arts and Entertainment section), to valuable information on possible dangers from loyalist (rat fink) students. Young men in the Life-Focus program, often encouraged to practice "voluntary" fasting, were a major source of business.

The group pulled off its most daring stunt by stealing Mr. Gothard's birthday cake the night before the training center threw a party in his honor. Pieces of the cake were auctioned off in exchange for a TV monitor, VCR, and several DVDs (including Sixteen Candles and Fight Club).

When the ITC leadership realized food was disappearing, they engaged in frantic witchhunts to track down the thieves, which gave the black marketeers an opportunity to knock off several annoying brownnosers in a matter of weeks. The Robin Hood ring was careful to avoid direct wrongdoing, rather arranging for character assassinations in exchange for a tin of brownies or a stray bowl of ice cream. One troublesome young fellow, fond of reporting rule infractions to the leadership, was sent home after an Oprah magazine was "discovered" in his backpack. Another was accused of defrauding a young lady with his roving eyes.

The black market operated gleefully for several years before key members moved on to new opportunities. Not willing to allow his legacy to die out, one of the originals anonymously mailed a "confession" to the ITC.

15 Comments:

Blogger Drschplatt said...

Fasting, like crying out, is very spiritually fulfilling when one is required to do it whether you care about the subject or not.

3:51 AM  
Blogger Lisalia said...

The prepared food at Indy was terrible! (of course I was there about 10 or so years ago) I would have gladly bought something before the student "cooks" got a shot at it.

And all those awful wheat rolls...

6:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So... What's this about well-placed brides? Did you mean "bribes"? :)

The mention of the Russian orphan makes me think this must have occurred not that long ago--after my time--in other words, it must have happened around the time they began the South Campus.

7:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was good about newspapers and magazine. Newspapers / comics were in high demand for sure; I think the security guys (at front desk at night) got them somehow.

7:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ah... those were the days

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hahahaha. Reminiscing about the ATI blackmarket...those were the days. anybody, could get anything, anywhere, if they knew the right sources.

11:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your comments about the black market remind me of something. My first experience at Indy was at a counseling seminar, and I recall that although we students were constantly told that we needed to be punctual for all sessions, Bill's idea of punctuality was a bit one-sided, because he could run over time as much as he wanted. I'm sure we missed at least one meal because we were too late (under the pretense of "fasting") and our sessions always ran through the brief time the book/snack store was open during the afternoon. One of the students decided to take advantage of the situation. He had an older brother in Equip who apparently drove one of the vans and had access to some convenience stores or Wal-Mart or something. This guy got his brother to purchase snacks and drinks for him, and then sold them to famished counseling seminar students for exhorbitant prices. One evening he had his table set up right by the elevator doors when they opened at my floor, and I couldn't resist.

6:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Life Focus guys... more like Free Labor. You ever noticed how the inception of the Life Focus program seemed to parallel IBLP's need for work renovating the South Campus? One day a troop of Life Focus-ers showed up from the South Campus... two of them had faces completely covered in poison ivy, and one had a broken arm. What did they DO to these guys?

6:41 AM  
Anonymous vegan hunter said...

Oh my goodness, I spent a week at Headquarters when I was 14 and felt faint from hunger most of the time. No idea what I could have bartered for food. I thought it was part of the submission programming. One evening there was a birthday "party." I attended despite exhaustion, b/c I thought there would be food there. One bag of chips and a two-litre bottle of diet soda, for a dozen or more "guests." When I found out that the guy sitting next to me was working there as a cook, he suddenly looked handsome. By the time BG himself met with me at the end of my stay, I was so weak and confused I just yessed him.

I guess the only "unapproved" thing I did at Headquarters was that I was both picked up from and dropped off at the airport by a lone male driver. Not sure if that's against ATI rules, but it was most certainly against my parents' rules ... hmm, I never told them. I should call them right now and repent.

Reading all of your escapades makes me think I really missed something by getting out of ATI so soon. (Left in '89, we'd been one of the pilot families in '84.) Guess it's good that all the programs were just too expensive for my family ... with the right peer pressure and even a little bit of positive social interaction, maybe I'd still be waiting for my father to identify a new owner for me.

1:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ROFLOL! Man, how come they didn't have that when I was at Life Focus? Dude, I sure would have paid for some snacks! Although I wasn't in to bad of a situation, since I always passed my verse tests...I really felt for those guys who didn't. Some of them tried really, really hard, but 18 verses a week (plus review of the previous weeks) sure is a lot to memorize word for word.

As for the poison ivy and broken arm...unless that happened in two different Life Focus camps, I was part of that group. And in defense of the poison ivy part...that happened when we were working cleaning out the yard for some older people in one of the bad parts of town. They should have been more careful before they tore into that stuff. As for the broken arm though...that really annoyed me...one of the team leaders was a very reckless driver. Somehow one of the guys fell out of the back of the pickup he was driving and broke his arm.

1:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always appreciated ITC's ability to use leftovers. I remember one set of hamburgers that came back as hamburgers (again), soup filler, breakfast burritos, and finally they just sat on the side of the table looking lonely. By the end we were calling them the Chevy burgers ("like a rock...").

Fortunately, MTC was subject to Russian law, which prohibited doing that kind of thing to the orphans, and the food was actually downright decent.

8:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously non of you have been to Indy for a long long time!!!! You are making asumtions based on old facts. What you say was bad way back when, is now very very good. The food is awesome now. It is some of the best around and there is plenty of it. You could get FAT there now!
Your black market could run very easly . I could get away with anything there. And i did!

5:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

MTC food- I remember when the MTC was fined for not having enough fat added to the food. We went from American foods to "Russian soup" with three inches of liquid fat sitting on top of the broth. The serving girls had to keep mixing it in as they served. Oh and the government-mandated Russian cook that refused to wash his hands on the way out of the bathroom. The black market at MTC was fun, especially when it meant raiding the stock of 2-liter cokes when working the security shift. Who remembers bugging the poor security guy all night long in between mopping the floors of the whole first floor in the main building? We cleaned the city of Dr. Pepper every time a new shipment made it to the container kiosks, to speak of a hot item.

5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You could get Dr. Pepper in Russia? When was this? I'm in Romania right now as a missionary (completely and most adamantly NOT with ATI) and I can't find it anywhere!!

7:15 PM  
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