Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Where Things Stand Now

Today, I delivered the non-refundable deposit the seller of the business we’re buying insisted he needed, in order to quit holding "other offers" over my head. So now, more than at any time up until now, this looks like a done deal. How I would love to be breathing a sigh of relief. How I would love to be looking forward, unconditionally thrilled, to assuming the captaincy of my own ship. But this whole exercise is turning out to be like a game of "Whack-a-mole." Have you ever played "Whack-a-mole?" It’s the arcade game where you get a big padded mallet, and you use it to pound these little mole-heads back into the holes they pop out of. As soon as you whack one mole, another pops out of another hole. Sometimes two or three at the same time.

So, I whacked the "financing" mole. And I mashed the "mollify the seller" mole. And I’m working on wrestling the "OLCC" (liquor license) mole back down into his little hole. But, what’s this? A monstrous head just popped out of a crater the size of a manhole.’s the "present owner’s overly-emotional manager" mole! Mr. Present Owner has gone out of his way to warn me that this girl’s family has lived in the county for a hundred years, and that even the appearance that she has been ill-treated in the transition could cost me big in terms of community relations for the next...century. Oh. Thank you so much, Mr. Present Owner!

I have met this girl. She is very nice. She is sweet. She is eminently likeable. In fact, everybody likes her—customers, staff and (obviously) Mr. Present Owner himself.

She is the absolute antithesis of me.

Nothing can strike more abject fear into my heart than the prospect of dealing with a sweet, likeable, fragile psyche. I am the personification of the bull in the china shop, when it comes to personal relationships. I have no guile, no political savvy, no off button. As a general rule, whatever is in my mind just falls out my mouth. I know enough not to be outright rude or abusive, but somehow that makes the situation even worse. It really hurts my feelings when people don’t get me. If I had a rhinoceros-tough hide to go along with my social ineptitude, it wouldn’t matter to me that I make such a god-awful impression on most people the first (second, third, gotta-know-me-for-a-year-before-you-can-tolerate-me) time I meet them.

Mind you, I only have to work with this girl for two weeks. And Mr. Present Owner has already promised her a generous severance package. All she has to do is work with me long enough to allow me to get my feet under me concerning the day to day operation of the place. But when you combine what he has been so "kind" as to tell me about her, and what I know from having interacted with her for a couple weeks a year ago, I know that she and I will get along like gasoline and a match.

I am scared shitless.  My friends…. Any suggestions?


  1. Any suggestions?

    Bite your tongue, kiss her ass and wave sweetly to her as she walks out of your life eforever when the two weeks is up.
    Are you keeping any of the old staff?? We underwent new ownership at the end of the year and had to reapply for our jobs. Most didn't make it back. It was a real PITA at the time.


  2. Michelle--I have no intention of acing the entire staff.  I cannot imagine a more heartless thing to do.  Not to mention that I don't exactly have a stable full of replacement workers ready and willing to step in when I fire everyone in the place...

    My plan is to keep everyone in place, see how things function, and make changes--s-l-o-w-l-y, as i figure out what is going on.  I fully expect there to be some turnover...maybe the entire staff will leave...once I put my policies into place.   But I place a high value on experienced employees, and I am willing to work with anyone who is willing to work with me.  Lisa  :-]

  3. Xanax. For you, and for her.

    Good luck, kiddo. I'm pulling for you'se guys.


  4. Wil--I'm afraid I am a conscientious objector when it comes to those kinds of drugs.   But it's good advice, anyway...  Lisa  :-]

  5. Sit down with her and tell her a little about yourself.  Tell her that if you come off a bit forceful, it's not's just who you are.  Have a cup of coffee and let her get comfortable with you.  It's a short term relationship.  Then, you take a deep breath and try to soften just a bit when dealing with her.  It's just a couple of weeks.

    I'm thrilled this is coming together for you!!!!  You are on your way to seeing your dreams come true!!!

  6. Isn't life a giant game of "whack-a-mole" in general?  My advice is to try to stay calm, cool and collected during this two-week period, listen well and take in silently what's going on in the business currently.  Then, when she's gone and you step in as the Captain, you can steer your own course.  Whee!

  7. I guess you need a really, really, soft mallet. And a calendar marked off, starting 14,13, 12, etc. You don't have to get through the whole two weeks at once, just one day at a time. Geez, listen to the expert will you. :-)


  8. lightyears2venusJune 8, 2006 at 3:45 PM

    Lots of good advice, especially Sunflowerkat.  Get off on the right foot by saying what you just said--how much she knows, how liked she is by everyone, and you want to learn everything you can from her. Maybe you don't have to be there at the same time for the whole two weeks, or perhaps you can busy yourself in another part of the business when you need time out.   When you feel things getting tense, apologize and admit you are stressed at the prospect of this whole venture and you don't mean to take it out on her.  If she's truly nice and sweet, she'll understand.   You can do this!

  9. lightyears2venusJune 8, 2006 at 3:46 PM

    Oh, and the ever popular count to 10 before you said something you'll regret.

  10. You already got great advice so I will just add that I got (sorry, Lisa) a nice laugh out of this.  Most people would be worrying about the money, or the utilities, or the fixtures, or the leaky basement walls, and you are worried about someone being NICE.  

    I do agree that you need to level with her about how you approach things and assure her that if you are somewhat abrupt, it's not personal.


  11. I understand your personality because my husband is very much like you as is my youngest daughter and I see how they sometimes offend people when it is NOT their intention.  My personal experience is that you can't make people be who they are just be yourself and suck it up for 2 weeks and know that you can do anything for 2 weeks and still live.