© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

Mob Boss

The Real Poop

Hey, you, paisano. Yeah, you. You think you could be the big boss? The Don? Unless you got a personality the size of Sicily and the ruthlessness to match, hey, fughetaboutit.*

*Stereotypes of gangsters aside, mob boss is one of those professions that exists in a kind of legal limbo known as "criminal behavior." It's not exactly on the up-and-up so we really don't recommend this as a career path, capisce?

Ahem, in any case...the majority of wiseguys who make it to the top tier of La Cosa Nostra (literally, "Our Thing") or any other organized crime outfit start out in the lower ranks and climb their way to the top. In this multi-billion-dollar industry, once they get there, they can expect to average a cool $50,000,000 or so.

 
What money? That's my laundry. (Source)

We'd back that up with numbers, but you try asking the Mafia for its financial information.

Mob members rise to the top the same way as most workers in America: determination, enhancing their strengths, improving their weaknesses, a good work ethic, and the occasional extortion or assassination. Not to mention the hallmark of organized crime: complete, unwavering loyalty to the family business—even though you may not technically be related.

So what are mob bosses and why does being one garner so much fear, respect, disgust, and adoration? Sit down on this rich mahogany leather divan and listen to a story that's as ageless as bathtub liquor and the sanitation business.

Dozens of Hollywood films have shown the basic command structure of the Mafia, but here's a refresher just in case you haven't seen any Martin Scorsese films in a while.

The Don—the person (usually a man, although not always) in charge of the whole shebang. He says jump, and everybody he pays, bribes, extorts, or otherwise meets in day-to-day life asks, "How high?

The Consigliere—Italian for counselor, a trusted adviser and confidant who also has the responsibility of representing the Don in important meetings.

Underboss(s)—kind of like the vice president (or vice presidents) of the Mafia. This person would take over should something happen to the Don, like getting whacked. The reason there may be more than one is because one of them may have done the whacking.

The underbosses are also responsible for the training, overseeing, and corruption of those lower in the organization than themselves, like:

Caporegimes—a.k.a. capos, who are high-ranking members of the family; they're the leaders of the individual crews that actually go out and do the dirty work. Think of this person like a shift supervisor, only when you step out of line he's allowed to smack you.

Soldiers—or thugs, toughs, or henchmen if you like, the base mafiosos who make up the crews that collect protection and other money for the capo. Without these guys, there wouldn't be a mafia, but don't expect them to start forming a union any time soon.

So how do you get into this *ahem* illustrious career?

 
You've got an offer I can't refuse? (Source)

There aren't exactly mafia internships or mob colleges or anything like that. Usually you don't find The Family, they find you. Typically, you're young, unsupervised, and in need of an authority figure. A mob boss is a great example of an authority figure—even if that authority is completely illegal, terribly unethical, and probably not very friendly either.

Let's say for a second you've been scouted by the Mafia League. What do you do next? Make a display of your loyalty and willingness to do whatever it takes to put The Family first. They need to know you're in it for the long haul, that you can handle yourself in the field, and that they won't have to worry about you knocking them off when they're not looking.

Speaking of which, it's probably not a good idea to tell them you were researching how to become a mob boss. They might take that the wrong way.

Once you're in, all you have to do is not die or get caught while everyone else more powerful than you dies or gets caught. Patience may be fairly useful here—not to mention a bullet-proof vest. That may come in handy on multiple occasions.

The moral of this story is: there are no morals. Be loyal to a fault, but take advantage of every opening to work your way up. It's an inconsistent message, but it stresses one important thing—keep your eyes open. You never know who else has been reading this.