Yes – Gusztav and Attila.
Gusztav was the leader of the two it seemed. He stood about 6 feet high and was portly. Gusztav had the classic Hungarian guy beard – I can't really describe it but you might know what that looks like.
His voice was low in tone and he had a dry sense of humor. All in all I hit it off with him just fine and he had a preconceived trust in me, probably because of my previous successful interaction with his peers.
Attila was another story.
He was a steely eyed fellow, short and built like a tank. He was very distrusting by nature and I realized that if we were at war with the Hungarians, Attila would be the one who would take great pleasure in killing you on the battlefield -
But these were peaceful times and I figured if I wanted the Hungarian's business I would have to find a way of dealing with Attila. After a while things with him improved slightly but I always thought he secretly wanted to kill me.
That's yet another facet of sales – you have to be able to get along with all types of customers and gain the trust of lots of different types of personalities, even, if they're thinking of you while they sharpen their kitchen knives.
Gusztav and Attila sent me home with -- you guessed it – more plans.
Now I'm supplying four Hungarian builders. My two hour long commutes to their part of town were frequent and cost a fortune in gas and time but they were worth it.
The Hungarians had become a huge part of my monthly sales and of course I took good care of them. I even started sending them meat! I always thought that's what good sales guys sent their best clients – manly, bonding, packages of meat.
All went well for about a year and a half and then I started getting suspicious.
Zoltan's brother was one of the clients. He was doing the now famous Hungarian rehab trick to a house he purchased in one of the most expensive areas in the whole state. I met him by chance at the site one day as they were tearing down 95 percent of the place and I asked him what he did for work.
He told me he dry cleaned clothes and that his wife was a secretary.
I assumed he owned a chain of dry cleaning places and that she was Johnnie Cochran's secretary, but in fact he just worked for a dry cleaning place and she was working a low profile secretarial gig in some office downtown.
I wondered how on earth they could afford this.
Zo ( I was comfortable enough to call him Zo by now) was traveling a lot it seemed. Off to New York City one week and Eastern Europe the next. Everyone involved in these rehabs was of Hungarian descent. Every carpenter, every sub – even the architects drawing the plans – all Hungarian. I did a bit of research on the Hungarian community in that area and discovered there was a huge Hungarian Underground presence there.
The frequent travel –
all bills to paid by the tenth –
little brother's 2 million dollar house despite his blue collar income -
a total lack of any other nationality involved in the work -
I was dealing with the Underground!!
I started getting anxious about this – sure this was the legitimate part of the enterprise but the images from all those spy movies were haunting me.
I had fantasies of somehow screwing things up for these guys and Attila sharpening his kitchen knife thinking to himself –
I thought I should probably get out of this somehow but didn't want to get anyone upset. Sure the money was great but I just didn't feel comfortable doing this anymore.
I told my boss about it and he said I should do whatever felt right. There was enough physical distance between our yard and the territory these guys were working in to tell the white lie that I was moving to another state (which I eventually did) and would not be able to cover the accounts any longer.
I handed them over to another sales guy from the same yard but he didn't have much luck with them. Dr. J was completely out of the picture by now (presumably in Attila's freezer) so I didn't think it would get back to them that I was still around.
I'll tell you this – if we go to war with over there I don't want to run into Attila.
But what if someone only wanted to replace a window crank?