Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Nefarious - Part 2

a bit part in a TV gangsta pilot

meet the family -
I mean "THE" family

[continued from post of Sunday May 3, 2009]
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Latin nefarius, from nefas crime, from ne- not + fas right
There were a lot of things that were not right in the unfolding of these vignettes. Like many things, though, you sometimes don't spot them except with hindsight. Then it is usually too late to change things.
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Cancelling my lunch appointment with my new business prospect was not difficult. He almost seemed glad to hear from me. It probably saved him the task of calling me at the last minute and canceling for some obscure reason of his own - that would not have been uncommon for a first meeting. Statistics indicate that it takes 7 contacts with a new prospect before your trucking company starts handling any of their freight. After-all, they already have their freight being handled by somebody and, barring some major failure, they don't really relish changing things.

The trip from Milwaukee took me a little over 3 hours. Traffic through Chicago was especially bottle-necked in several places. When I arrived at the company's terminal office in northwest IN I found everyone hard at work - or trying to get their work done. There was a 'stranger' in their midst asking questions and watching everything they were doing - our new Vice President of Sales for the Western Region.

He immediately noticed me when I came in the door to the dispatch office. He seemed relieved and happy to see me - almost genuinely so. He had been hanging around almost four hours [I did learn he went out for lunch for almost two of those hours]. We introduced ourselves, exchanged a few pleasantries, and went into an office adjacent to the dispatch room. This was the 'Sales' office for this terminal.

Because I was the company's Regional Manager for this area, I was also the current Sales Rep - the previous occupant of that position had recently moved on to a competitor. It appeared the newly appointed Vice President of Sales for the Western Region had already made himself at home. Sales Reports and other materials were scattered about the desk; the local terminal manager, who had also just met our newly appointed Vice President earlier in the day, had been providing him with records as requested.

From appearances, I guessed we were about the same age. It also seemed to me that he liked to eat more than adequately - his girth was substantial. I was not in especially great physical shape myself, but I was in an acceptable weight range for height and age. I did also note that although he lived in the Chicago area instead of NJ, his last name also ended in a vowel ... like those new guys in our headquarters in Detroit. I wondered if they were all related somehow.

It was now approaching mid-afternoon. He explained that he had been hired by the new owners to help us increase our sales revenues in the 'Western Region'. He asked a lot of questions about my background and experiences with the company. What positions had I held, and where had I worked, and how long I had been with the company, etc., etc.? It seemed to me that he would have already known most of this information. It seemed reasonable to me that he should have been adequately prepped before our meeting.

He also told me that the company wanted to expand into some different types of businesses. He felt his strengths were with the 'connections' he had all around the Chicago area. He stated he believed we would work well together, as I had been highly commended by our new owners in Detroit - pure schmooze.

Small talk only goes so far. There were more significant matters to start discussing. He suggested that, if I was available, we should continue our discussions over a
nice dinner somewhere. I soon learned that was his M.O. [modus operandi]: let's talk about it over food [and drink]. His preference that day was in a south-side of Chicago suburb. We ended up at a very nice, but noticeably plain-looking [on the outside] restaurant in Cicero. This was closer to the southwestern suburb in which he lived - I was the one who would have to travel back to where I was staying in Merrillville IN.

This is where it started getting to be a little bit like being in 'a bit part in a TV
gangsta pilot'. The decor was classical Mediterranean - pillars and vineyard type decorations. We were seated in the main dining area. There was also a very nice bar off to one side, separated from the dining room by a half-wall partition. At the far end was an arched doorway going into another area. The archway was adorned with a curtain hanging from it. On both sides of the archway were dining booths - both were occupied.

We both ordered a drink and studied the menu. He stated, very matter-of-factly, that in many of the circles in which he had contacts, things were done or accomplished as favors or as repayment of favors. He helps me - I owe him. I help him - he owes me. We both know people we've helped and now they owe us. We remind them that they owe us, and together we get our goals met and the company gets the increase in sales revenues for which it is looking.

I think I was starting to understand his take on this ... and merely accepted it as a view of a way in which business can be conducted. He was my new 'boss' and I really did want to accomplish 'growing' the company - our new mantra.

It was during this part of our conversation that he revealed he had never worked in the trucking industry before, and knew very little about it. I was to be his connection - his 'joined-at-the-hip' companion - his right-hand-man. I would help him, and he would help me. Such an offer.

I started having flash-backs to another person I knew. He operated a vending machine business - his name was Tony.

After a couple of drinks and between the main course and desert,
he excused himself. He walked towards the archway at the far end of the room - the one with the curtain hanging from it. As he neared the archway, an occupant from each of the booths on either side stood and 'challenged' his approach. There were some quiet words exchanged. One of the 'gatekeepers' disappeared behind the curtain. In a brief moment he returned. The 'gatekeepers' sat down. My new friend passed through the curtain.

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[to be continued as I make the time - stay tuned]


Adoro said...

I love these stories! Seriously, you could turn them into a screenplay....

uncle jim said...

thanks, adoro

think the perps could ever id me [or themselves] from these?

i always enjoyed your stories, as well

i'd like to read some more from you

uncle jim said...

Yes, I know the picture of bottle-necked traffic and the Chicago sky-line is from the opposite direction. The picture is northbound on I-90 approaching the downtown area from the south inbound just before everything starts splitting off in different directions. I just didn't happen to have a picture coming southbound from the north.