Like almost all my cases, this one started with a woman. Her name is, or was, Mrs. Helen Pallas, wife of Cyrus Pallas. If you don't know that name, I'm not really surprised. He's big shit, though. Owner and president of Pallasson Work Shoes. You've probably seen their trucks. And if you've ever had a working man's job, like in a factory or some kind of construction, you've definitely dealt with them.

The way their business works is pretty ingenious. Say you're working on an assembly line in some factory. There's heavy metal shit running down a conveyor line and you're bolting something to it. That's your job, OK? As small as the chance may be, one of those parts might fall off the line and break your big toe. The company you work for is afraid of lawsuits, so they make you wear steel toed boots. Here's the kicker: They want you to wear only one brand of shoe. Pallasson.

Once or twice a year, your boss gets on the phone and calls up Pallas. They send over a truck filled with shoes in different sizes. The driver doubles as a, I shit you not this comes right off the Pallasson website, "Footwear Comfort and Fitness Expert." Everybody in the factory goes out on break gets sized for a perfect fit and goes away with a new pair of boots. Pallasson charges your company and next week the cost is taken out of your paycheck. I don't know what kind of schooling you have to get to become one of these "experts," but I bet dollars to doughnuts it takes place during the first 20 minutes of your Pallasson employment in the back of some warehouse. Anyway, you're obligated to wear these shoes if you want to keep your job. And these guys aren't cheap. I mean, they're quality boots sure, but they start at about $175 a pair, and can go a lot higher. The thing is - and this is definitely not on the website - at the end of the day, your boss gets a little handshake and an envelope filled with cash. A percentage of sales. It's like 2-3 percent depending on the number of shoes sold. It isn't exactly legal but it isn't really Corleone type stuff either. It’s underhanded, though, and it’s at the expense of the working man. I mean go to Costco or whatever and you can get a decent pair of work boots for like 35 or 40 dollars or something. Pallas has made a fortune off this racket, you should see his "estate." Actually, I'll be getting over there eventually, so if you stick with me, you'll see it later today.

So, I knew all about the way Pallas ran his company before his wife came to visit, but what she had to say was news to me.

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