I shared this true story with Celebrating Chicago Cubs Friends…
Friday Morning, Northwest Chicago – My mother was trying to convince an inventor client on the image benefits to his business in getting the exterior of his shop painted. The building looked like an abandoned barn in the middle of another bankrupted farm’s field.
Mom and Jerry stood at the open overhead doorway of his loading dock. It faced the alley. Walking in that alley were eight or nine members of a notorious gang. They wore black leather jackets with a dragon emblem on the back, tight blue jeans, knee-high black leather boots with noisy cleats, also bandanas and black leather caps.
To Mom’s surprise, her client called the group over as they passed the loading dock. He offered them the job of painting the barn-like, two-story building. Bigger surprise: They took him up on the offer.
Promptly, Jerry jotted down a list of the materials and supplies they’d need. He handed the leader 2-one-hundred dollar bills. And, he sent them to the nearest paint store, located three blocks west on West Grand Boulevard. He offered them his car keys to bring everything back; but they refused.
TWO FRIDAYS LATER…
My mother had an appointment to deliver the draft of a project contract proposal to Jerry. She pulled her auto up to the curb in front of his property. As she walked past the side of the house, toward the job, his wife darted out of the back door.
“What do you think?” She smiled. “They did a terrific job, even on the carved trim around the dormers and porches. This house hasn’t looked this good since it was built in the 1950s…”
Come to find out: The infamous gang had painted the exteriors of both the large, 2-story house, and the shop. And, they looked superb!
MOTHER’S BIGGEST SURPRISE…
Upstairs, in Jerry’s shop, worked nine black leather jacketed young-young adults. Members of a different notorious Chicago gang, associated with the Hells Angels. (Remember hearing about them?)
The group was busy packing shipping boxes with plastic-wrapped, soft-fabric insulated hot/cold tote bags for foods and beverages. Jerry’s inventions in the 1970s. Note: Most of the prototypes were stolen away, initially, by a woman to whom he’d given a job to help her get back on her feet. Talk about crime!
Anyway, Jerry had given temporary jobs to the “teen hoods. “ The scourge of society. “The no good hoods.” They’d been on the job three previous days that week, putting in seven hours. Free pizza lunches and two “junk food” breaks included each day.
That scene in his shop was not a new one. The man was just as well known for his giving jobs to notorious gang members, as they were for robbing, stealing and threatening every other business place in the area.
Frankly, both Trump’s and Clinton’s camps could have learned a lot from people like Jerry, about eradicating major gangland crime in big cities like Chicago.
Gutsy people that put themselves out there. Inventive people who offer doable alternatives, not ineffective and stupid threats to well-connected gang members.
Before the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians game on November 2, 2016, I was watching “campaign clips” for both Trump and Clinton.
“Bob,” my mother commented, “high gangland crime in cities gets derailed by people like Jerry. Not by politicians, laws and the courts.”
I agreed. An image of a black leather jacketed gang member in Osceola County, Florida, flashed in and out of my brain. We “met” when I spotted him making a drug sale directly outside the men’s restroom inside the local public library. He still completed the sale, then casually walked upstairs and sat in front of a public computer.
People on the front lines – on the streets – almost always know the better solutions to problems that politicians tend to talk a lot about. During presidential campaigns especially. Why is that?
Are we paying the wrong people to eradicate high level, gangland crime?
Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob” – especially as we head into a new, and unprecedented, leadership and constituency relationship!
Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.