BY NORBERT RUG
Tony kept asking me to spend a weekend working down there and I kept refusing. Finally I told him it would be a while because I wanted to bring Donna, my wife, with me to see New York City and I needed to save up for plane fare and a nice hotel room. His reply was that he would pay for her plane fare and the hotel. My answer was how about next week?
On the flight down, I introduced Donna to all of the flight attendants. As we talked with them, I mentioned that Donna was involved in the planning for a bridal shower and asked if I could get some of their clear plastic on the rocks glasses. One of them said sure. They left and when they came back, they had two sleeves of glasses and a huge pile of napkins.
Donna didn’t like flying and was quite relieved when we landed. My hands were glad that the blood flow returned to them also. Nico and his girlfriend, Mia, picked us up at the airport and took us to the plant. I think Donna was further traumatized when she saw where I was working. While Nico and I worked Mia and Donna went shopping at a local mall. They also went for a visit to Mia’s parents house
After the day’s work was done, Nico took us to our hotel to drop off our luggage. Then we went on a night time, tour of New York. The first thing we hit was Chinatown where we went up a narrow stairway to a Chinese restaurant on the second floor. We had an enjoyable meal and even though it was the very first time I used them, I turned out to be very proficient using chopsticks.
After dinner we went on a tour of the city. We went on the Stanton Island Ferry. And saw the Statue of Liberty. We ended up in the Bowery where a person “washed” our windshield by spitting on it and wiping it off with an old dirty rag. He then wanted a tip for this “service”. We also saw the Empire State Building. After our tour, we returned to our room and had a good night’s sleep. It was a long day.
In the morning, Nico picked us up and we went back to Tony’s place for another day’s work where I picked up my pay for the weekend. Donna waited in the office anxious to get on the plane for the trip back home.
Once we were done for the day, we went back to the airport and flew home. Donna still didn’t like flying and my hands got crushed all the way back to Buffalo. Two weeks before the birth of my son, I finished my assignment with Tony and thought we were though. I was mistaken.
Shortly after that I got a call from Tony and he asked me to design some new acetators for him. We negotiated a price and I started drawing plans. I had studied Machine Design and Construction in school and actually had 5 years of drafting experience. I spent many nights at the kitchen table making several pages of drawings for him.
About a month later he called and told me he wanted me to work full time for him running a few of his businesses. By now I thought this was not a man you told no to and I didn’t want to be around when Mattia had to do his real job so I tried to set up a few roadblocks. I also didn’t want to be owned by this man and didn’t want to be put in a situation where he would ask me to take a “package” across town for him.
First off I told him that I had a young family and I needed to have medical insurance. His answer was that any medical bills I got I would give them to him and he would pay them in full. Damn. Next I told him I needed to find a place for us to live. He told me he had just the right house for us that he would get for me. He told me I could walk out my back door and I would be on the beach.
Running out of excuses I told him that I would need to move my stuff and would have to hire a moving company. I was scraping the bottom of the barrel for excuses. He said not to worry. He had a friend in the moving business that would bring my stuff to my new home. He also said if I needed any more furniture, he would buy it for me.
I had one more roadblock left. I told him I liked where I was living and all of my family lived in Western New York. I expected another counter offer but he said he understood. That family was very important.
I never heard from him again. Up until now I haven’t told this story to anyone but a few close friends and family but I think that now, 45 years later, everyone involved was dead from one reason or another and it was safe to tell.
Norb is a writer from Lockport that has lived a very interesting life.