Tony stories #3
many people need second jobs
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During the period of my life that I was starting to have my own personal 'conversion experience', but before I was able to start putting righteous living into practice in more than the Sunday part of my life, I found life getting a little more complicated - that is the "How do I put this into practice?" part.
It is a problem I see almost every day in business. Many of us seem to live and operate in two different spheres. For those who have some modicum of religious experience and belief, we often operate in one sphere that gets us to church on Sunday, and maybe we do some humanitarian service or ministry. The other sphere finds us in our daily employment endeavors - and somehow we're not able to blend the two. Likewise, I found it difficult to even see and recognize there was a dichotomy in my expression and practice of Christianity.
God will use the good and the bad in our life to further His mission - if we let Him [see Rom 8:28].
It was really a very laid-back dinner. Small talk dominated our conversation. I had no planned agenda for our being together. Hind-sight would suggest that Tony had something in mind, though - I should have been learning that by then.
We left the small local diner in his car. He said he had an errand to run - he needed to pick up a part for one of his machines that needed repair.
The suburbs that surround Chicago expand forty miles in each direction from the loop [except directly east - that area is known as Lake Michigan]. We were in Lake County Indiana - the northwestern most county in the state of IN. The county seat, located near the center of the county, was in Crown Point. The best known of the cities in Lake County is Gary Indiana, located in the north-central part of the county and adjacent to the southern end of Lake Michigan. Gary was a steel-mill & heavy industrial city. We were somewhere between Gary and Crown Point. The northwestern corner of the state is simply referred to, among the locals, as 'the region'.
I didn't know why we were in this neighborhood - it didn't seem like the place for a 'parts' distributor to be located. None-the-less, we pulled into the driveway of a nicely landscaped house. He told me the guy he wanted to get the parts from operated out of a small shop at the back of his garage. He invited me to come in with him.
Of course I went.
Even after my previous experiences with Tony, there was such a curiosity in me that I found myself almost excited as we approached a side of life I didn't live - even though I was more and more understanding that it was not always legal enterprises and people I would be encountering.
Near the center of the front of the house, where the garage and house joined together, there was a rather plain doorway which appeared to be an entry to the garage. We walked past that door, and proceeded to the main entry to the house. Tony rang the doorbell. An attractive middle-aged woman answered. She knew Tony and greeted him warmly. He introduced me as a friend of his. He asked if Sal was in his shop. She said he was and she'd let him know we were coming back.
We went back to the garage entry door and entered. We walked past the car and a van that were parked inside and proceeded to the rear of the garage. Another door - an obviously very substantial and sturdy door - was located there. Tony knocked, and momentarily the door was opened from the inside to allow us entry.
It is strange how much cannot be seen from the street. These houses in this subdivision were nice brick ranches - you could see the full front of the house ... but there was no clue as to what you might find around back. Expecting to see some guy with a small vending machine repair shop behind this door really left me in for a surprise.
Have you ever been to any of the establishments along the strip - in Las Vegas? What's the first things that you see? Yep! Slots - rows and rows of slot machines. Well, Sal didn't have rows and rows, but he had racks and shelves and benches full of all kinds of slot machines. These were the old 'one-armed bandit' kind from before all the new-fangled electronics came on the scene.
By now, I had learned to try hard and not show my surprise. You have to realize that the people I was meeting had to trust Tony a lot or I would never have been brought into their presence. He introduced me to Sal and told him what kind of parts he was looking for. There was some small talk while Sal and Tony went about their business of getting the correct parts located. Once that was accomplished, Tony asked "How much for the parts?" Sal told him "Nothing! You just owe me one, okay?" They agreed and without too much further ado, we left. I suspect there is a lot of "I owe you one..." business conducted in these circles.
We left the subdivision. I didn't ask any questions. I knew Tony would tell me whatever he wanted me to know - sooner or later ... and he did. He told me that Sal was a highly respected technician in this field. He did work for some of the biggest names in 'the business' in 'the region.' Not only did he repair, but he sold slots on the side - got a pretty good price for them, too. His regular job didn't pay all that well. Sal made use of his connections and skills to be able to afford a nicer home and a nicer life-style.
Oh - Sal's regular job? He was a local city cop.
You've heard of playing 'good-cop, bad-cop'? Well, I guess Sal played both.
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Any observations you've made reading this? One that jumped out at me after this episode was this: Tony apparently now had other kinds of 'machines' in his business - machines other than food and drink vending machines. That realization made me a little more uneasy ... but, hey - everybody's got to have a job, right?
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There are a couple of more "Tony" stories I'll tell in later posts.
[Previous Tony Stories found on May 25 and May 20 posts]
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