The movie script, based on the novel: Better Off Dead
by: John Paul Carinci
Granstino knew that Life Insurance sales was a difficult business, even though he had only begun six months ago. But he never
thought that it would cost him his life. After all, who knew that Tony Vongemi-the restaurant owner, who has been feeding
young Frank people to write Insurance on, was in the Mob.
Not until Frank's clients start dying, does he realize that something
very wrong is going on. And by the time Frank realizes that the Vongemi Mafia-Family is connected to the deaths, he knows
he's at the point of no return. And to Tony and the Vongemi Family, one day soon he will be; "Better Off Dead."
This fiction action adventure takes place in present day Bensonhurst,
Frank Granstino, the twenty seven year old-realizes his time is running out. He must do something, but what? How can he go
up against the all-powerful Vongemi Mafia Family?
After the second client-that Tony Vongemi recommended, dies, and Vongemi
has collected two million dollars from the Insurance company, Frank knows that he is in real trouble. With more than twenty
five clients now insured through Vongemi's help, Frank sees the Vongemi Mafia Family gaining many millions of dollars through
this elaborate Insurance scam.
C- John Paul Carinci 2005 #Pau2-357-862WGA#130669-00
SCREEN PLAY SAMPLE:
BETTER OFF DEAD FADE
IN: THE SCREEN IS BLACK. PRINTED OUT ACROSS THE CENTER-MIDDLE- New York City Fall 1993 OPENING SCENE
- DAY INT. APARTMENT 16TH. FLOOR Scan apartment, review award plaques: Jong Lou leading agent Manhattan Commercial life,
trophies. Bachelor pad. Two large but suited goons and Jong in discussion. Jong troubled. JONG Tell him no more, we
can't push the envelope. They're going catch on and we'll all be through. I can't risk it. It went to far already! GOON
ONE All right, Jong. I don't see it as a problem. We all had a good run. You are a good earner for the Family. In fact
we were just saying how much we were able to squeeze out of that company. But they got billions, Fuck Them, Right!! JONG So
we're alright on this, then?
GOON ONE Solid as a rock. Not
to worry. We'll be in touch, Bud. CUT TO: EXT. OUTSIDE FRONT OF APARTMENT BUILDING. WE SEE THE GOONS ENTER THIER LINCOLN CUT
TO: EXT. NIGHT SAME DAY, DARK VIEWING APARTMENT 20 FLOORS UP We hear crashing glass, pleading, then blood curdling scream
of a man. We see a body flying out of Jong's apartment window, arms flailing until the body comes to a rest on the concrete
20 floors below, mangled. O.S. We hear the banging of a gavel silencing a Federal Courtroom in uproar as we SMASHCUT
TO: INT. - FEDERAL COURTROOM C.U. JUDGE bangs one more time: The courtroom is silent. JUDGE I will clear this
courtroom if there is one more outburst! As stated, defendant is guilty as charged on all counts and will be immediately remanded
to the Maximum Security Federal Penitentiary at Marion, Illinois to begin serving consecutive 99 year sentences without possibility
of parole! He bangs gavel. CAMERA PANS courtroom. We see the defendant, CHARLIE "THE HAMMER" ROSATO, 75 year old Godfather
surrounded by his LAWYERS. We see the jubilant faces of the District Attorney, JOSEPH MALONEY being congratulated by his ASSISTANTS.
We also see an angry young hood seated behind the godfather who stands and touches his shoulder and kisses him on the cheek
as they lead him out. The angry young hood's unforgettable face belongs to BOBBY "THE BULLDOG" VONGEMI. He stares angrily
at the prosecutors as they leave triumphantly. We see an FBI agent, BRENNEN, take note of the glare. CUT TO: INT. D.A.'S
OFFICE - LARGE CONFERENCE ROOM There is a party going on. BRENNEN speaks with an elderly MALONEY. BRENNEN You nailed
the Hammer this time, for good. Congratulations, Joe. MALONEY (humble) Not without your surveillance tapes and witnesses.
Thank you, to you and your staff. BRENNEN So you're really going to retire, hang them up? MALONEY I'll be on the
noon train to Ft. Lauderdale tomorrow. Sold the house, bought state-of-the-art fishing gear and a boat. Mary's already there
waiting. The grand-children arrive in 2 weeks, it's up to you guys to carry on. CUT TO: EXT. AMTRAK TRAIN - LEAVING
NY PENN STATION CUT TO: INT. AMTRAK SLEEPING CAR - 1ST CLASS MALONEY casually dressed glancing out of window - he's
reading a magazine on fishing. The NEW YORK DAILY NEWS and THE NEW YORK TIMES are on the table - Headlines - (Times) MOB KINGPIN
BROUGHT DOWN BY MALONEY; (News) GODFATHER GETS 198 YEARS: MALONEY NAILS DOOR ON HAMMER. CUT TO: INT. AMTRAK SLEEPING
CAR - CORRIDOR OUTSIDE MALONEY'S PARLOR BOBBY VONGEMI; as a porter, knocks. MALONEY rises opens door. MALONEY Yes? BOBBY May
I take your lunch order, sir? MALONEY Yes, come in. MALONEY turns to walk away. BOBBY closes the door. BOBBY Go
swim with the fishes, Maloney... MALONEY turns. BOBBY empties the silencer-fixed glock into MALONEY, who falls and bleeds
on his headlines. With a crazed look, BOBBY snaps MALONEY'S arm over his knee and spits on him. BOBBY leaves slowly, the Do
Not Disturb sign on the door swings back and forth. FADE TO WHITE: SUPERIMPOSE 1999 Brooklyn, New York OPENING
CREDITS CONTINUE EXT. DAY SERIES OF SHOTS A) FRANK and LISA on bench - eating McDonald's; B) LISA clearly not
liking it all; C) LISA watching classy couple enter fine restaurant; D) Car stops her GIRLFRIEND & MAN in a Mercedes
wave; E) We zoom in on rusted fender of 1972 BUICK CUT TO: EXT. EVENING - SHORE PARKWAY OVERLOOKING THE VERRAZANO
BRIDGE INT. EVENING - 1972 BUICK SEDAN With the car parked, FRANK and his fiancee, LISA are seated in the front. They
are in a heated argument. She is an attractive young lady, early twenties, auburn hair, green eyes but her bitchy, nagging
attitude ultimately detracts from her beauty - - FRANK is at the wheel. LISA We're not going anywhere, Frank, It's not
working, I need a change! FRANK You know I just got the job at Financial Life; it takes time to be successful in sales.
Selling life insurance is hard work. LISA Yeah, well, why'd ya leave the bank? 3 years and you went nowhere! FRANK That's
exactly why I left. I was going nowhere. 9 to 5, punch the clock and process paper all day, at least with insurance I've got
a career. I'm a good salesman - I just need time! LISA Well, its been 6 months and it looks like another dead-end job.
You can't support yourself, How are you going to support us? FRANK We'll both be working, I thought. Look, Lisa, I'm
trying and I thought we loved each other? What's gotten into you? Its been 2 great years. LISA For who? Frank, this
has been nothing but a low-budget affair. I wanna go on a cruise, do some living. I'm tired of waiting! CUT TO: EXT.
OUTSIDE FRANK'S CAR Cars passing and parking, the area is a lovers lane. A couple gets out of their car-near FRANK'S, momentarily
stopping the argument. The other couple make out right outside of FRANK'S window, then say good night and are on their separate
way. INTERCUT TO: FRANK'S CAR The argument continues, lovers are interrupted, looking in the direction of the noise,
FRANK is embarrassed, makes a face at onlookers, looks straight up and shakes his head. LISA You're a great guy, its
just that I... FRANK Want more out of life than I can give? Where did all this come from? LISA (yelling
a bit) I don't think I'm a terrible person cause I want my future husband to be able to take care of me financially! FRANK No,
Lisa, you're just not the person I thought you were. I understand what you need, but you've changed! I'm going to be wealthy
one day, I was hoping you'd be by my side. LISA (screaming) You've got some set of balls! Don't make me the bad guy!
Here's that cheap-crap ring! Take it back and get a new muffler for this shit car. You're nothing but a loser! LISA opens
car door. FRANK starts the car. LISA gets out. FRANK Lisa, it shouldn't end like this, let's talk! LISA slams the
door so hard, the window rattles loose. FRANK punches it once. It flies out of the door and shatters. LISA Talk to this!
Sorry Frank, I'm moving on with my life! Jerk! LISA slowly walks away. FRANK is dejected, but realizes that LISA was
too intense. DISSOLVE TO: EXT. SKYLINE - FINANCIAL LIFE INS. BUILDING - PARKING LOT. SERIES OF SHOTS A) Agents
are arriving in parking lot; B) Agents in lobby heading to their respective offices; C) Staff meeting being organized; D)
FRANK arrives early to district meeting and sits in back of the room with his coffee and bagel. Begins eating, awaiting "Terrible
Tom" the Sales Manager. The production ledger shows he's written no insurance for weeks. He tries to be inconspicuous. CUT
TO: EXT. PARKING LOT HARRY is seated in the lot going over his picks of the day in the Daily Racing Form. BEN pulls
up and vainly looks in his mirror adjusting his tie and stroking his hair. He notices AUDREY pull in next to him. He jumps
out so he can position himself to watch her gets out of her car so he can "sneak" a peek at her micro-mini. He gets a full
thigh view, that opens his eyes wide and puts a smile on his face. BEN Hi, Dre'. How ya doin' this morning, doll? AUDREY Its
with an A U...AUDREY!! Why do you people gotta shorten everything? BEN Just tryin' to be like your skirt, "Sweetems"! AUDREY
grins as she tugs the skirt down, closes her car door and sashays towards the door. Ben follows as he keeps an eye on her
butt all the way in, behind her. MEL pulls in. He looks around and sees HARRY, in his car, putting away the Racing Form and
getting out and heading for the office door. He leans over and grabs a flask from the glove compartment and takes a swig.
Wipes his lips. Sprays Binaca and trips towards the entrance. CUT TO: INT. MEETING ROOM The troops have gathered
and TOM is about to begin his meeting. FRANK finishes his bagel. BEN is seated staring at Audrey's thighs, he has a smile
on his face. TOM starts... TOM Good morning!...Where the hell is Freddy, he better be straight!! FRANK He's in
the men's room. TOM I'm going to fire his ass if he doesn't stay away from the powder! CUT TO: INT. DOORWAY In
walks FREDDY with his nose slightly running and reddish eyes. He has just taken a hit of coke. TOM Nice of you to join
us, Freddy! I hope we're not interrupting anything. Sit your ass down and pay attention. Okay, people, we have a major problem.
Some call it productivity; some call it sales. I call it the bottom line and you all ain't cuttin' it. Some heads are going
to roll next week if the sales don't pick up. Am I clear? Frank Granstino, your numbers are so low, I can't believe you don't
owe us money on payday! FRANK Tom, I've got a solid sales call set up for today, and I've got a bunch of other calls.
This is my week! TOM I've been hearin' that story for the last 6 months. FRANK This week has real potential! TOM Potential!
Potential is nice, but performance is everything. You people better deliver next week! Now get Cracking! Oh, and George Flayer,
in my office-NOW! INSIDE TOM'S OFFICE TOM speaks to GEORGE, GEORGE gets up and proceeds to clean his desk out, FRANK
wanders over to see what happened. GEORGE You believe that guy! "Mr. Potato
head," he makes me sit through his shit meeting-just to fire me! FRANK So, what
are you going to do now? GEORGE
Go for a strong drink, then get up enough nerve to tell my wife. FRANK nervously flips through "sales leads" on his
desk taking mail response cards and puts them in his suit pocket. He's clearly worried. CUT TO: EXT. DAY FRANK drives
down a residential block looking for the address on a postage free response lead. FRANK has a free atlas and insurance brochure
ready for prospect. A beautiful Spanish woman of 30 is unpacking groceries. FRANK shows Ms. Arnonez the return card, and his
card. FRANK Can I help? MS. ARNONEZ Sure, Frank, that's sweet. MS. ARNONEZ smiles a sexy smile, FRANK smiles,
embarrassed. Two children chasing each other. MS. ARNONEZ (CONT'D) You two, go down and play at the Williams' house. They
continue into the house, FRANK has 2 plastic bags hanging from each hand, along with atlas, lead card and brochure. FRANK So
what does Mr. Arnonez do? MS. ARNONEZ Oh, there is no Mr. Arnonez. She smiles at FRANK, and winks. FRANK I
gotcha, a single mom. As they enter through the kitchen, FRANK is weighted down, MS. ARNONEZ unbuttons two buttons on her
blouse; showing serious cleavage, while moving closer to FRANK. MS. ARNONEZ Can I help you with that? FRANK Uh,
I'm all... MS.ARNONEZ, now goes right up to FRANK, backing him into the kitchen table, and lightly kissing him on
the lips. The packages start falling, he quickly catches them, managing to put them on the table. MS.ARNONEZ closes the kitchen
door, goes back to FRANK, who's motionless, still back against the table, stunned. She kisses his neck. FRANK loses all control
as she leads him to the bedroom, unbuttons and removes his shirt and tie, pushes him on to the bed and jumps on top. FRANK
holds onto the atlas and card, one in each hand. There's a lot of passionate kissing, as they hear noise of the screen door. MS.
ARNONEZ Oh my God, that's my husband! FRANK What? Who? What husband? FRANK jumps up, his pants go down to his
ankles. He pulls his pants up, rushes out to the kitchen to pick up his shirt and tie, as he straightens up, he comes face
to face with weird character with scared face, and a half filled alcohol bottle. FRANK (CONT'D) (nervous) Hi Dude. WEIRD
GUY What? Who the... MS.ARNONEZ Oh, it's only you Santiago. It's my brother. WEIRD GUY You know it's only apple
juice. FRANK So, Ms. Arnonez, the insurance will run $56. per month. Let me know, call me next week? MS. ARNONEZ Yes,
Mr. Frank, I will. FRANK rushes out the door way, running into MR. ARNONEZ, a tough looking man with piercing eyes,
unshaven, startled look, carrying bundles. MR.ARNONEZ Where do you think you're going? FRANK I'm the life insurance
man! MR.ARNONEZ Yeah, right! What the.. FRANK tries to walk to the car, MR. ARNONEZ steps in front. FRANK No,
really! I sell life insurance! MR. ARNONEZ You piece of shit! You were banging my wife, weren't you? MR.ARNONEZ drops
bundles, pulls out a switch blade. FRANK takes off like a bat out of hell, drops shirt, doesn't look back. MR ARNONEZ gives
chase, but FRANK turns the corner, running all out, cuts through a yard and is long gone. CUT TO: EXT. DAY SERIES
OF SHOTS A) Front door slamming in FRANK'S face; B) Basement. Fat, hairy, UNSHAVEN GUY, in sleeveless undershirt, with
cigar and beer - shakes his head no. C) COUPLE fighting in kithen, FRANK strikes out again. D) FRANK, late, falls on
rear-end running across toy ridden lawn. Starts to raise his back as a puppy begins licking his face. Gives a defeated stare
up at the sky. CUT TO: INT.DAY LIVING ROOM OLD GRANNY with cane, FRANK on couch looks at prospect card. FRANK But
MRS. Suni, the card you sent says you're 65, not 88. I can't insure someone 88 years old. OLD GRANNY Sonny, a woman
never admits her age. Drink your lemonade. We could play cards for nickles. The OLD GRANNY leans on hand on coffee table
top, as she reaches for the deck of cards under the table, we hear a distinct but slight fart. FRANK'S mouth opens wide. CUT
TO: EXT. NIGHT FRANK is driving to his sales call, focusing on making a sale. His cell phone rings, it's Paul. FRANK Paulie,
great! Got a sales call. Yeah, headed there now. I'm psyched! Sure! You know, one sale could be worth thousands. Not bad.
My only problem is; appointments are so hard to get, and sometimes harder to close. But this one's with a guy named Jimmy
Lanski. He's married, with two kids, a perfect prospect. He needs the insurance. Okay, I'll catch you later, Bro! INT.
NIGHT - CAR
"BETTER OFF DEAD"
John Paul Carinci
"Hi, this is Frank Granstino from the Financial Life
Insurance Company, how are you today?"
"Okay," the woman said hesitantly.
"Well, that's good! The reason I'm calling," I said with
a smile, "is, I'm helping all the homeowners
neighborhood with their life insurance
needs. I'll be in your
area Tuesday and Thursday. Which night
would be better for me
to drop by and introduce myself?"
"Neither! Why don't you get a real job, and stop
bothering people!" she screamed as
she slammed the phone
I proceeded to cross her name off my list so hard that
the pen ripped the page. All in a day's
work, I thought, as I
closed my prospecting list.
Earlier, another woman - she must've been elderly - blew
a whistle into the phone. She blew
it so loud that I had to
switch ears on the next call. Maybe
she thought I was a
pervert or a weirdo. But that's the
trouble with the phone
book, you never can tell who you're
going to reach.
Prospecting for new sales is tough. So far, my first six
months in the business has been murder.
The district manager, Tom Somi, reminds me: "Hey sport,
you're only twenty-seven years old.
Give the business a
"Enough of this!" I said, "I already have an earache!" As
I packed my briefcase, with calls still
to be made. After I
take a break for lunch, I'll drop in
on some businesses in
the area and leave my cards.
The district office was pretty quiet for a Monday,
especially for a bright and sunny April
day. As the experts
say, "You're in business for yourself,
your time is your
Now our manager, Tom Somi, is a tough man who screams a
lot. Tom only wants to know, each week,
total premiums and
how many policies were sold by each
of the forty sales
representatives. He's a bottom-line
type of guy, that no one
wants to go up against.
Just this morning at our district meeting, Tom fired an
agent. George Flayer had been with
the company for two years.
His first year was good, but his last
six months were
terrible. No sales, coupled with cancellations
Of course Somi capitalized on the firing. He made George
come in for the district meeting. Then
right after our
meeting he fires him, making George
clean his desk out in
front of everyone. Tom really is pond
"Somi, that 'potato head', let me go!"
That's all George could say to me as he packed up his
With my legs up on my desk, leaning back in the chair, I
realized that this business can be
Insurance sales is difficult because we're selling a
piece of paper. The one thing that
keeps me in this business
is that I truly believe in what I'm
I reminisced about my last job, working for a major bank
in Manhattan, as a general accounting clerk. All
I had to do
was show up, sit at my desk till five,
with no real work, no
challenge. Slowly, I was getting melt-down
of the brain.
After I left my dead-end job, I vowed to be productive
somewhere. When I started selling insurance
a little over six
months ago, it was very difficult.
Since I have few
relatives, and only a couple of close
friends, I was very
reluctant to try to sell any of them
life insurance - at
least in the beginning.
I wasn't like most agents, who rely totally on friends
and relatives. And after a few months
fail out of the
business. I relied solely on strangers
and referrals. That's
why I didn't start off with a bang
and was just barely able
to pay my bills each month.
I drive a 1972 Buick Century and live in a modest 2 room
apartment in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. At 27 I was still able to
chase away any thoughts of marriage.
As my phone rang, it startled me back to reality. I've
always been somewhat of a dreamer.
"Hello, Frank Granstino here."
"Frankie, it's me, how're doing? I caught a couple of
minutes before lunch."
"Pauly, how are you, you got my message a couple of
"Yeah, I didn't get a chance to call. So what did you
think about the Knicks game last night?"
"Aw, they stink! Do you believe they blew a twelve
point lead? Sometimes that Starks really
"I know, he gets carried away trying to make those three-
point shots. Maybe they'll win tonight.
winning lately. Frankie, I'll catch
you later, over the
weekend. Let's get together. Gotta
"Okay Paul, I'll catch the game tonight on re-run. Later,
bro!" I said, as I hung up.
Paul was my best and oldest friend; we went back almost
twenty years. There wasn't anything
I wouldn't do for Paul,
or he wouldn't do for me. For the longest
time we lived only
two blocks from each other, so we saw
each other every day.
Even our parents became friends. We
were so close-knit they
had no choice.
"Time to get moving," I said, as I packed up some forms,
and realized the time. "Time to blow
After lunch, and some prospecting of the business area on
foot, I went home to hang out. We make
our money in front of
clients, not in the office. Since I
had an appointment this
evening at , I took
an afternoon nap.
The business is lucrative though. It's possible to earn
up to two thousand dollars for one
large sale. Not bad for a
couple of hours of work. This business
has its highs and
lows. The lows are terrible, when sales
My older sister Candice helps me keep it all in
prospective. Ever since our dad died
tragically a couple of
years ago, from a car accident, Candice
and I became even
She always tells me, "Don't worry about the clowns that
don't want to buy, it's their loss!"
At times she's better than a psychotherapist.
My appointment was with a guy named Jimmy Lanski. Jim is
married and has two children; the perfect
children his need for protection would
At the time I made the appointment I found out that Jim
worked off the books, had no life insurance
interested. "This should be an easy
sale tonight," I thought,
as I dozed off.
It was when I reached Jim Lanski's home. I
like to be early. The Lanskis and I
hit it off great. There
was an immediate rapport between Jill,
Jim's wife, Jim and
The Lanskis knew that they needed life insurance. They
had no problem with the ninety dollars
a month premium, for
the five hundred thousand dollars of
protection on each of
They were so happy with my needs analysis that they
willingly gave me a few referrals.
Which was great.
Referrals are the life blood of the
business. With referrals,
you at least have a chance to succeed.
The Lanskis told me to call their cousin, and their
uncle. The Uncle is Jim's mother's
brother. It really was a
great night! I thought as I drove slowly
back home, savoring
the moment of sweet success.
Bright and early on Friday, I was back in the district
sales office. Fridays are our reporting
days, and the time
when the agents tally up their sales
and report them to
The office reminds me of the old West that I've seen in
the movies. Each week we have many
agents coming and going
through the doors like the swinging
doors of a Western
saloon. All the new agents come into
the business like they
own the world - tough and confident.
In my short career so far with Financial Life, I've met
some real characters. There are agents
that sit through
district training meetings, reviewing
the horse racing form,
pretending to be listening intently,
while secretly itching
to get out of the office to bet the
That's the biggest reason Harry never amounted to
anything. Harry has a bad gambling
problem, and unfortunately
he keeps forgetting which is his money,
and which is his
client's money for premiums.
Then there's wild Audrey. Audrey is a fairly new agent
with the company, and one of only two
women of the twenty
three agents in the district.
Audrey thinks she's beautiful, when in fact, she's as
ugly as sin. So to compensate for her
looks she resorts to
showing some extra skin. This tactic
seems to be working
quite well with all the guys. One day
she'll wear a real
short dress and no underwear, at least
that's what Ben, the
district's only black agent, claims.
Ben looks like a pro wrestler. He's a big guy, with broad
shoulders and a big fat neck and head,
much like a football
player or a weight lifter. Definitely
not someone you'd want
to mess with.
Well, the way Ben tells it, Audrey, during a Friday
agency meeting, kept lifting her dress
up, ever so slowly,
until as Ben once said, "You didn't
have to use your
imagination anymore." All I know is,
that all through the
meeting, Ben's eyes were getting bigger
and whiter than we've
Then there's good old Freddy. Freddy's always in the
bathroom, and when he does come out
he's always sniffing like
crazy. His eyes are always bloodshot.
He usually looks spaced
out. Audrey said one day, "It doesn't
take much imagination
to figure out what 'coke-head Fred'
has been doing!"
It comes down to the bottom line. Some agents get away
There's also Mel Flaine. Mel is the office rummy. He just
plain stinks like a bar rag. Rumor
has it, old man Mel can
only stay sober long enough to get
through the weekly Friday
meeting just to get his paycheck.
One day Mel came in the office drunk, tripped over a
chair and almost killed himself. The
office was almost empty,
so only the secretary saw him.
Mel's the veteran of the office. He's been with the
company for nearly thirty years. So
they just leave him
alone, even though he doesn't sell
too much any more. It
makes you wonder just what the pressures
of selling can do to
The last character of the office is Louie Remi. Now,
Louie is fifty-five years old, divorced
and not all there.
Louie is at rock bottom in the insurance
though he's been selling for some twenty
years, he doesn't
earn more than a clerk in K-Mart.
Louie is neurotic. He's on a powerful anti-depressant
medication. One day he'll come over
and hug you, and tell the
whole world how terrific you are. The
next day he'll curse
Louie always was weird. He has even been known to
threaten peoples' lives, then blame
it on his medication.
One time he threatened to kill another
agent because he
thought the agent stole a lead off
his desk. Five minutes
later Louie found it under his phone
and tried to apologize.
Louie's also notorious for spreading wild rumors about
people throughout the office, especially
when he gets jealous
of the top sales people. His personality
is like Jeckyll and
Hyde. It's really a pisser though,
to watch the reactions of
the new agents Louie comes in contact
with. I learned right
away that the best thing to do is stay
far away from crazy
With all the strange and wild personalities
we have, they
should re-name our agency: The Outer
There's just too much pressure to write business each
day. To make matters worse, the company
threatens to fire you
every thirteen weeks, if your numbers
don't exceed their
"The Enforcer", as he's sometimes referred to, is the
district's manager Tom Somi. Tom is
a tough manager. Even his
appearance is intimidating. Tom is
fifty five, about five
foot ten, big, maybe 250 pounds and
He looks tough, like he could take
on three guys at once in a
bar room brawl.
I'm sure he was in the Army for a while. He's comical
though. Every time Tom gets mad, the
whole top of his bald
head gets beet-red, along with his
face and his ears. His
whole head gets so red you expect his
head to burst any
second - a hot tamale ready to blow.
Most of the agents try
not to get him excited. But not me.
I guess I always get on
peoples' nerves. After all, I know
I can run faster than him.
It is really funny when he gets all red in the face,
except when it's you that he's glaring
at. Maybe it's been my
low-production, but lately Tom's head
always seems much
redder when he's around me.
The most frequently asked questions from Tom are: "So
what have you got so far for the week?"
and "How much in
premiums did you sell?" Then he always
seems to turn red. So
I try to avoid him every chance I get.
I usually wait for him
to go to the bathroom, so I can slip
out quickly past his
office and through the back door.
Since it was our Friday report day, I submitted my
three new applications. Two of them
being the Lanski
sales. The total annual premium came
to fifteen hundred
dollars. Not bad for the week. But
since I went blank the
previous two weeks, I was trying to
keep a low-profile, and I
definitely wanted to avoid Tom. Quietly
and slowly, I slipped
smoothly past his door, and into the
hallway. Thinking that I
made it past the big-guy, I smiled,
until I heard a booming
voice: "Not so fast Granstino!"
Slithering back I said: "Who me?"
"No your mother," he barked. "So you think you had a good
week, do you? You want to cut out of
here at ?"
"No, Tom, I wanted to drop in on some people."
"Why don't you just drop back into that seat there," he
said, pointing to the chair, "and tell
me how you're going to
replace the two prospects you no longer
have now, Frank?"
I had to admit, the big guy had a point. I had sold two
different families this week, so I
had two less prospects
now. "Tom, I've got new names, I've
got referrals!" I said
"Oh you do, do you? Maybe you think that by keeping them
in your briefcase there, they'll multiply
rabbits?" he asked sarcastically.
"No sir!" I snapped back.
His head and ears were beet-red again, he smiled
sarcastically again and said; "Why
don't you make some more
calls before the weekend, so maybe
we'll all be able to
eat again next week!"
"Good idea boss!" I said, as I exited his office by
backing out into the agents' room.
I knew I wasn't going to
win this fight, not with this red-faced
I was holding five good-quality referrals, like they were
maturing savings bonds. I didn't want
to use them. Maybe I
was scared that I couldn't convert
the referred leads into
Sometimes agents don't have a single lead to call, and
must resort to making cold calls from
the phone book. And
sometimes, when they do have some quality
somewhat reluctant to use them, for
fear of using up their
I waited for the big gorilla to go to the bathroom and I
quickly slipped out. I'll call my leads
when I want to! I
thought, as I drove my car into the
start of my long
The weekend was fairly quiet. I'd recently broken off my
engagement with Lisa DeVoe. Lisa and
I were going together
for about two years. And, as is the
case in many
relationships, it was much better in
the beginning. But
amazingly, as soon as we announced
our engagement the
relationship started to sour to such
a point that I felt
trapped. Like I'd lost my freedom and
the ability to do the
things that I wanted to do.
Then, one day about two months ago we just blew up at
each other. The fight was so intense
that we realized it was
far better to split up than to possibly
kill each other.
Lisa was a beautiful woman. She had long auburn hair,
sparkling green eyes, and long legs.
She stood about five
foot nine and looked like one of those
fashion models, tall
and slim. Lisa was two years younger
than me, and very smart.
Maybe too smart.
I realize now, that beauty alone doesn't guarantee a
happy life together. There has to be
much more than looks;
something magical and special. A spark
that will last
I did miss Lisa though, I wasn't really sure which part I
missed the most. The physical relationship,
or just the
comfort and security in knowing that
I had a girlfriend who
cared for me and that I wasn't alone.
On the weekends I try to forget about the insurance
business completely. This weekend I
took in a couple of good
movies on cable. I also watched some
baseball on TV, and went
out to a club with my friend Paul.
On Sunday, I went to see my mother in Staten Island. Of
course I stayed for dinner. Mom made
my favorite: lasagna.
No one makes it better. Paul couldn't
make it Sunday at my
mother's, but he has a standing invitation
for dinner any
My sister Candice was there too along with my niece,
Michele. Candice is thirty five years
old. Michele is so
sweet, she always gives me a big hug
and kiss. She looks up
to me, ever since her father ran off
It'd been a couple of weeks since I had dinner over Mom's
place. I love my mother, and my family
very much, I only wish
I could see everyone more often. Life
today though is very
fast paced. Before you know it a month
By Sunday night, the pangs of loneliness set in once
again. Lisa entered my mind, while
I was straightening up the
Bright and early Monday morning, I was in the office
sitting at my desk, planning my week.
I was the first one in
the office. It was good, there was
no one to distract me, no
small-talk to waste my time.
As I sat with a large container of coffee, along with all
my notes and prospecting names scattered
over the top of my
desk. I thought, who should I call
first? Which ones were my
best prospects? I put the hottest ones
at the top. It was
time to make some quality appointments
and keep Tom off my
By 10:00 I had made a top 50 list. Then, the prospects
I've been calling for weeks now, and
unable to secure
appointments with, were put toward
Alright then, number one: Tony Vongemi, Jimmy and Jill's
referral, looked real good. Tony is
Jimmy's boss and uncle.
By far, this was the best lead I had.
I remembered that Jimmy said there was no medical
insurance on the job. There were 10
employees that worked
there, and it was a family-owned restaurant.
The name of the
restaurant was: Little Part Of Italy.
It was on 86th Street
in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn.
The time was 10:20 am,
time to call the restaurant.
"Tony please," I said.
"Hold on!" snapped a deep and powerful voice. After about
a minute I heard, "Yeah what is it!"
With a smile in my voice
I said, "Hi Tony, it's Frank Granstino,
from Financial Life
Insurance, a friend of Jimmy &
Jill Lanski's. They suggested
I call to speak with you about medical
insurance. I'd like to
make an appointment to drop by and
"A friend of Jimmy's, sure, come by tonight at 7:00. I
got to run, good-bye!" he said this
so fast, I almost didn't
catch it, as I heard the phone slam
On my way out of the office, Tom stood in my way blocking
my exit. "Anything good setup for the
week?" he asked.
"How about a ten man group at a restaurant?" I boasted.
"It's about time Granstino!" he said sarcastically as he
moved out of my way.
As I walked past him, all I could think to myself was:
Watch it, go bother someone else!
My friend, Paul Luggi, worked in the city for Trelane, a
large accounting firm. Like most New
York City workers, he
worked nine to five. I called him a
prisoner, because he
could never leave.
"Oh yeah, at least I don't have to beg people for a sale,
like you, so I can eat each week,"
he'd always say.
Although he had a point I still felt free, and "freedom
does have its price." I keep reminding
myself. I knew Paul
would be at work, so I called him.
"Hi Paul it's Frank. What do you know about a restaurant
called: A Little Part Of Italy, I've
got an appointment with
the owner tonight?"
All I heard was laughing, then he said, "Don't you know?"
"No I don't know, what's the joke?"
"I think that place is run by the Mafia! Frank, you'd
better watch yourself, pal! I'll talk
to you later, I've got
to run," he said, while laughing hysterically.
That's all everyone knows how to say, I said to myself,
Mafia this, Mafia that. Everyone in
Brooklyn can't be in the
Mafia, not every store and restaurant
It was ten minutes to seven, as I circled around the block
for the third time passing the restaurant,
looking for a
parking spot. I didn't want to park
in their parking lot, at
least not on my first visit. I'm funny
Another five minutes passed before I caught an available
parking spot not far from the restaurant.
It's times like
these, that I really hate Brooklyn.
The place was beautiful. It had an all-stone exterior
with hand-carved solid-wood double
doors, which were stained
in a rich walnut finish. Inside the
restaurant there were
shining marble floors with white, fluted
throughout. The hardwood floors were
walnut with elegant
heavy trim gracing all the ceilings
at the top of the
beautiful walnut-planked walls.
The tables were of solid marble, with black wrought-iron
chairs that had lush red-velvet cushions.
All this was topped
off with soft Italian music. "Talk
about ambiance," I
thought. It gave me a feeling like
I was actually in an
elegant cafe in Italy. It was by far
the most spectacular
restaurant I had ever seen.
A maitre'd, dressed in a white tuxedo, smiled, and asked,
"How may I help you?"
"I'm here to see Tony," I said cautiously.
"Is he expecting you?"
"Yes," I said, I have an appointment, just tell him
Frank, from Financial Life."
Still in awe of the place, I patiently waited. A short
time later the maitre'd returned and
motioned me to follow
him to a back room.
Seated at a table towards the rear of the room, was a man
in his late fifties. I knew it was
Tony Vongemi, because the
only other people in the room were
two big and bulky-looking
guys in their late 20's. They were
hanging around one on each
side of the doorway.
Tony was impeccably dressed, his suit was perfectly
tailored, his salt and pepper hair
was styled and neat. He
had expensive looking diamond rings,
but not too flashy. I
could tell Tony Vongemi had class.
I introduced myself. He was very cordial. We spoke about
his nephew Jimmy, my client and his
head waiter. "Jimmy is a
good boy," he said. "We also like Jill."
We also talked about the Yankees and the Knicks which, we
were both fans of. "I miss Don Mattingly.
He was a worker.
Really committed to the task at hand.
I respect that. We look
for hard workers in my line of work.
Those are the kind that
"I know exactly what you mean, Tony. Mattingly was my
favorite Yankee too."
I guess we hit it off well. So well in fact, that Tony
had given me two tickets for Sunday's
basketball game. The
Knicks were playing the New Jersey
Nets at the Meadowlands. I
was thrilled to death, I just loved
"You're going to the game on me, my friend. Wait till you
see the reserved seats we have this
season. You've never been
this close to the action. You're going
to feel like the
players are going to pass the ball
right to you!"
Tony wouldn't let me talk about business until I had
dinner with him, as his guest. Feeling
very much at ease, I
had the seafood special and a couple
of glasses of fine white
wine. After a fabulous dinner Tony
offered me an imported
cigar, which I politely refused. While
I watched him smoke we
had a couple of cups of espresso, with
Sambuca on the side,
while we talked business.
"Okay, talk to me. I want to take care of my workers.
They're good people. They do anything
for me. What can I do
to show them I appreciate their respect
"Well, you could start a medical group plan, and pay for
some, or all of the premiums," I said.
I then showed Tony a few different quotes for group
"Do it, just start the ball rolling. Let me know what the
damage is, and it's a done deal. Okay
with you Frankie?"
"That's a good move, your employees will appreciate it,"
"Yeah, a little respect goes a long way. At least that's
the way I see it," he said.
Then, Tony asked, "How about life insurance for me?
That's a good idea. What would three
hundred thou cost?"
"About $6,000 per year."
"That sounds good Frankie, sign me up! You know, I like
"That's Granstino, Tony, but you can call me Harry, if
"You're a funny guy too! I like that. Just make sure you
do the right thing!" he said, as he
reached for his checkbook
and proceeded to write out a check
for a thousand dollars.
Tony handed the check to me as he said, "I'll give you
the other five thou, in cash, when
you drop the policy
off to me."
When I asked Tony for referrals, he told me that he'd be
calling me next week with some leads.
All in all it was a
great night. I made my quota for the
month in just hours.
I was thrilled and somewhat relieved that the constant
sales pressure I was feeling, from
finally lifted. On the way home I stopped
at Dunkin Donuts
and celebrated. Three donuts and a
couple of cups of coffee
later, I headed home a very happy man.
This business is great
when the sales are coming in. It's
keeping it going that's