Saturday, December 11, 2010

…And Then Sent an Angel

Over the years, my landlord and I have developed an unusual sort of love/hate relationship. We respect each other; we each understand that we could have been stuck with a way worse landlord/tenant. We realize that we share a common work ethic, sense of responsibility and a sort of fantasy about fairness and justice in the world.

Be that as it may, he has always just…gotten on my nerves. Since he actually owned and ran the café for a year before we bought it, he hasn't been able to resist putting his two cents in on everything from menu changes to purveyors to personnel issues. And he has been so very present. It is unusual for more than a week to go by without seeing him in the restaurant or around the property. Since he does his own property maintenance and he refused to invest in sprinklers when he built the place, he is around every day in the summer—cutting grass, watering the lawn, fussing with one thing or another. I wonder how many other small business owners could have cheerfully tolerated such a hands-on, ever-present property owner?

Well, I have tolerated him…though not always cheerfully. When I'm tired, frustrated or stressed out (which is most of the time), I'm most likely to duck into the back kitchen when I see him coming; or treat him to surly one-word answers if he does manage to buttonhole me. And, to his credit, he has tolerated (and to some extent, been chastened by) my treatment of him. The result of all this being that we don't like each other, but we really do. Or something.

Since I gave him the news that we would not be renewing our lease, our relationship has actually improved; partly because the decision has relieved me of a lot of the stress, frustration and exhaustion that has made me such a harpy. So, the other day, he was sitting in the café enjoying his cup of milked-down Earl Grey tea while I was trying to close the place, and he pointed this out to me—the part about me not being such a harpy anymore (though not in those exact words…)

I thought about this for a bit, then replied, "You know, that's partly because now I don't have to deal with (the husband's) uncertain commitment to the place. Now I just know he's not interested in doing it, and I can't do it by myself." Probably sharing a bit more than I needed to about my feelings of having been let down by my business/life partner.

"Yeah…I've seen (husband) around the place. And it's obvious the way he walks that he's in a lot of pain…"


Of course he's in a lot of pain. In fact, there are times he can hardly walk. He wears a brace on one leg to try to compensate for 54 years of trying to function with the flattest feet known to man. Between that and the scary blood clot incident a couple of years ago, and his eye problems, and the fact that the stress, irregular hours and bad eating habits that are part and parcel of our business venture have caused him to gain back a fair portion of the sixty pounds he lost before we bought the restaurant… He is simply not equal to the physical demands of running this restaurant.

Me? I'm not exactly a prime physical specimen, either…in fact, I'm direly out of shape, and in pain most of the time from tweaking some part or other of my half-century-old body scaling the equipment to get at the upper level storage or hauling a fifty-pound box of potatoes into the kitchen or some damn thing that I have no business doing at my age. But there's a certain amount of I've been doing this kind of thing all my working life and I'm just used to it. Whereas, for the past sixteen years, the husband has been making his living widening his butt with the seat of a desk chair. If I'm marginally up to the twelve-hours-on-your-feet-without-a-break aspect of owning a restaurant, the husband is utterly…not. And it took Mr. Landlord's casual observation to smack me upside the head with this fact.

So I have him to thank that another layer of resentment and ill-feeling about the less-than-ideal outcome of our business venture has been lifted from my shoulders. The Universe sends help from the most unlikely sources, does it not?


  1. It must be reassuring to keep getting these messages that your decisions are heading you in the right directions.

    I think the universe has forgotten about me...or else I'm as dense as a post.

  2. The greatest is that now you're open to hear what The Universe has to say!

  3. You know, I love it when I finally get those messages, but I rarely enjoy how I come to receive them. You just gave me an example of grace today.