Birthday With A Mobster

I try my best to work a forty-hour workweek. I plan my budget around it, my social schedule around it, my home projects, most importantly the time I can spend with my wife. Where I work, they periodically have what is known as a Turnaround. Some other places call them Outages. Basically it’s a time when a major part of the plant is shutdown for maintenance along with repairs. Most times my work schedule makes a drastic shift. Instead of my normal forty, my hours increase to eighty-four. 

So I settle in, change the landscape of my life to revolve around this major shift in my work. The biggest advantage to the drastic change is the amount of over the budget funds that can be accumulated. That is the only compensation that makes it worth working seven days a week, at twelve hours per. So instead of scheduling social time, I get a calendar and a calculator, so I can start adding up how much extra money will be non-budgeted funds. It brings a smile.

This past week I went over the calendar, then I went over the calendar, then I went over the calendar again. I think I may have a little OCD. When the dates where final, the calculating started. I smiled again when I got my first check and my calculations were pretty close to what I had hoped. I thought to myself it makes all the extra hours worth it. I was smiling all day Friday. The extra money was going to be great. All my planning came to an unplanned halt when I came home that Friday to my wife who had her own excitement and plan.

With the exuberance of a little girl she couldn’t wait to tell me what she had planned for my birthday weekend. “You’re off all weekend” she said as she clapped her hands. She couldn’t hold back her excitement. “I talked to all of your bosses” as she continued to clap.  I was so dumbfounded; she took my speechless reaction as disappointment. After I assured her I was just shocked about being off work I joined in with her excitement. 

She told me that in a million years, I would never guess what she planned for me. She was right. She had a hotel room booked on Michigan Avenue, and dinner plans. That is not the plan I would never guess. I kind of figured that part of it. I started to ask probing questions. They didn’t help. She was tight lipped. Even with all the jubilation she was sharing…what, or were the special event would be taking place she did not share.

When the time came for the main event I was floored with her plan. She booked a private tour with Frank Calabrese Jr. a former member of the Chicago Outfit. We sat with him for over two hours as he drove us through the city and suburbs he not only called home, but also where famous crimes took place. He took us past all the different restaurants, social clubs, hangouts. We drove through Chinatown, Little Italy, and Taylor Street. He gave his own personal testimony of his life in “The Life” how it destroyed him along with the relationship with his father Frank Sr.

Frank Jr.

Frank Sr.

I was fascinated, also enthralled; listening to the history he shared. Sure I could get that on one of the many tours offered in the city. Being in the car with just him made it more personal. It was like having a conversation more than a guided tour. He would pull to the side of the road to elaborate on what happened in that particular spot.  He had an iPad that would bring up bullet points (pun intended) of interest that would highlight the area he had pulled over to explain. The tour ended way too soon. I could have talked to him for hours. Professionally done. It may seem strange to say that he was a gentleman but he was. Which rings true to “The Life.” Most of the men involved in the mob are ironically gentlemen.

So if you are interested in the history of “The Outfit” along with its impact on the Windy City, I suggest this private tour.

Even though my work schedule took a hit (another pun intended) it turned out to be more informational than reading about it. My wife, as always, makes the best way of celebrating my birthday. It was well worth the disruption to my schedule… which now I have to start all over again.

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