bob lee was indeed a real person although i can find no information on him now. lee nutrition was sold to another vitamin company sometime in the 90's. when i worked there they had a small store downstairs and the warehouse and office were on the top floor. (as employees we were allowed one free yogurt soft serve cone a day.) bob lee himself evinced no interest in the so called health food his store sold but rather stayed all day in a closed office eating burger king and mars bars. more of a figure head and the star of the ads, the company was run by guy named frank and someone named leo.i may be wrong but i think mrs. bob lee managed the store
the main customers of lee nutrition were from middle america not the hippies and progressives we now associate with'health food'. they were quite.... interactive... and often sent letters, very long letters(and even photos)complaining, praising or bitching about their orders or the UN or assorted vast conspiracies that had nothing to do with vitamins, bee pollen or protein powder. and many of them had really odd names so we were forever stealing the shipping labels and collecting them along with the letters and photos. i still have this stuff- artifacts of another time and place.
if you had about 2 brain cells firing away you were a fucking genius at lee nutrition so you were pretty much instantly promoted to inspector once you proved you could read the pill bottles and manage to stuff them into a bin. basically you took a stack of orders, filled them by placing them on a metal conveyor belt where they were inspected and then mailed. it was a sad place. all the inspectors were in college or college drop outs and we spent the days wondering why we were at lee nutrition, stealing stuff and building a large collage on the back wall of things the customers sent in. it was brain numbing- i used to go home with the orders reeling about my head( b-16 50 mg 250/ e 50omg 100....). many of the order pickers were simply incapable of doing the job. some spent their entire 8 hours on one order getting it wrong and redoing it over and over. one guy in particular never, ever got an order right. he would melt down when you brought his bin back to him so we took to just correcting all his orders ourselves because it was easier than watching him flip out.and i guess we felt bad for him as the company did because they never fired him.
occasionally they did promotions were you got a free gift when you ordered a certain amount. the gifts were usually vitamins but every once and awhile it was something incongruous- like a plastic cuckoo clock and my personal favorite- a fruit cake. one day when i was doing my chief inspector slot and no one was getting their orders right i beat one of the fruitcakes with a broom stick in the middle of the factory floor.it didn't cause much damage to the fruit cake.
so in the spirit of the season i offer this: mr. santa claus. mr. santa claus was one of our most prolific correspondents, sending us mountains of cards and letters which always mentioned his all raw meat diet. one of the inspectors always had to fill his orders because his usually handwritten forms were illegible. heaven help the fool who forgets mr. santa's ginseng even if no one could read is fucking order forms.