Sunday, June 15, 2008

slot machines & weddings

My Way Sunday
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Tony stories #4
It IS who you know that counts
. . . . . . . . . .

I had been working out of the company's headquarters in the Detroit area for about a year when my past snuck-up on me. The main part of our office building was pretty plain and straight forward. It was a two story rectangular structure, approximately 150' wide and 75' deep. It was divided into two halves at about the middle across the width - this provided two sections on each floor, with each section approximately 75' by 75' .

The section to the right of center was used by the operations departments: dispatch office, drivers' break room, shower facilities, bunk-rooms for sleeping - all the things needed by an over-the-road trucking company to keep it moving freight.

The section to the left of center housed all the support departments: sales & marketing, personnel, accounting, payroll, pricing, etc.

That was the main part of the building.

There was, also, an Executive wing, where all the big-shots hung out - the owner, the president, a couple of vice-presidents, associated secretaries, a conference room, main entrance and reception area, etc. This part of the building was connected to the left half of the building, coming off to form an 'L' shape. It was only one floor high, not two.

The two story and the one-story were joined by a common hall-way and a staircase to the 2nd floor of the main part of the building. My office was at the top of the stairs on the left - that kept me closer to the bosses so if they need to chew on me, they didn't need to go as far, or yell as loud.

I mention yelling because the owner - after all he was the owner - would walk out of his office, look around to be sure there were no visitors in the area, turn facing down the hallway towards the stairs, and YELL:

"Jimmy - come down here ... NOW!"

He was the only one who called me "Jimmy".

guess that's how he reminded everyone that he was the owner. I don't want to paint a bad picture of him - he liked me ... that's why I was working in our company's headquarters. He was sometimes like a father, or an older brother - always the boss, but friendly at times.

I charged down the stairs, headed down the hallway towards his office, accepting the looks and stares from the secretaries in the area. They knew the owner well enough to know that you could never tell if his yelling up the stairs meant trouble, or not. If the yelling continued once I entered his office, then they knew.

Today, he was charming. He small talked for awhile about nothing in particular; "So, how's everything going today?" "Had any problems with the people at ABC Company lately?" "How's the wife and kids?"

At least there was no more yelling. The secretaries outside could continue working instead of straining their ears to listen to what was going on inside.

Then the weird questions started. "So, how long did we have you working in the Chicago area?" "You probably made a lot of acquaintances while you were there, didn't you? I mean, besides our customers and vendors." "There sure are a lot of different kind of people in that area, aren't there? I mean Detroit is very cosmopolitan, but nothing like Chicago."

I really had no idea where this conversation was going. I was searching for clues in his words - but I was lost. Finally, he got to the point. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Trite, I know, but I was caught off-balance when he asked me: "SO, did you ever meet anyone with connections to the underworld elements of Chicago - like people that might be connected to gambling and stuff like that?"

My mind raced as I tried to figure out why he would ask something like that. Was there something in my past that he had heard about and he was now trying to figure out? Or was he in some kind of trouble? Or...?

I knew he owned a couple of thoroughbred horses - maybe he knew somebody who knew somebody I knew and had heard about Tony ... or worse.

My confusion must have shown. He then came out with what I was looking for - a reason for his weird line of questions.

"Jimmy - what I'm looking for is a slot machine. Do you know anyone who could help you get me a slot machine? I just want it as a conversation piece for my office here. People are fascinated by those things - I just wanted to have one they could drop a few quarters into when they're meeting with me - just a way to loosen them up ... to take the edge off before or after we conduct our business. Do you know anyone?"

Without divulging my connections and sources, I acknowledged that I was confident I could help him out. A few phone calls and two days later a machine was en-route to me ... via my old friend Tony. I never thought I'd see Tony again as an actual customer for his 'other line of equipment'.

Talk about nervous. You should have seen me. An illegal gambling machine in my house overnight. Yep - in my house. Tony arrived Saturday evening. We put him up in our house overnight ... along with the machine. After traveling in the trunk of his car, he said the machine needed to be 'gone through' to make sure all weights and balances and wheels were in place and properly set. He used the bar-counter in our basement family-room as a work bench. He tore that machine almost completely apart. He apparently had learned a few things from his friend the local city cop, Sal.

We had it arranged with the company owner to have access to his office on Sunday afternoon while there were very few people in the building. Once it was delivered, we took Tony out for dinner, and sent him on his way home.

I may have crossed the line but, have you ever seen the look on the face of a small child looking at the toys under the Christmas tree? That's what it was like when the owner came in on Monday morning and saw the present I delivered to him. He was ecstatic. He set it in a very prominent place in his office. It was the talk of the building for weeks. I went up in his esteem ... and my nervousness went away.

So, you see, 'it is who you know that counts' - well sometimes, anyways. I'll tell another Tony story in a future post.
[Previous Tony Stories found on June 1, May 25, and May 20 posts]
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
unity sand
A wedding on the north-coast shore
. . . . . . . . . .
The Erie Islands Inn & Marina Resort
Port Clinton Ohio on Lake Erie
. . . . . . . . . .
There's the west-coast, and the east-coast, and the gulf-coast. Ever been to the north-coast?

The Great Lakes are our nation's north-coast.

Yesterday, Saturday, on the shores of Lake Erie, the southern most and shallowest of the Great Lakes, between Toledo and Cleveland Ohio, we attended the wedding of one of our nephews. Outdoors at a resort Inn and marina, on a platform overlooking the water, on one of the most beautiful days of the year, our nephew committed to traditional marriage vows and married his sweetheart. They've been together for a couple of years now and decided they wanted to commit to each other for the rest of their natural lives.

The minister, a woman who was a family friend of the bride, gave a very nice reflection on how a 'complete' man and a 'complete' woman can come together in marriage and use the power and the energy and the 'vibrations' of the Creator of the universe to become one. Each supports and challenges and draws from and gives to the other. They tune-in to the other's energy, and vibrations, to key-in to the power they possess to make each other the very best each can be.

A friend of the bride gave a reading of a poem on love. An Aunt of the groom gave a reading from the Christan Bible in 1 Corinthians 13. The minister offered prayer to 'the Lord' and made it in "...your name"...she just never mentioned His name.

Instead of the now traditional Unity Candle, they used "Unity Sand". There were two clear crystal [or maybe plastic] decanters filled with layered different colored sands - one decanter for each of the two families represented in the marriage.

First, the mothers each poured from one of the decanters into a common receptacle. The colors all blended together as they poured, and the two families were now symbolically joined.

Then came the couple to be married. They each poured the last of the layers, now a solid common color, from their respective decanter into the top of the receiving container. They were now symbolically joined. In a few minutes, after repeating vows to each other, they would in fact be joined.

A beautiful setting, a beautiful couple, a chance for life to be better for two people in love. I'm very happy we could be there.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Uncle Jim,
If your up in Port Clinton again, let me know. We have a place in Marblehead and go up there quite often.