Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Where I 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?


Cynthia said...

Lisa, complete honesty about yourself and your personality feels like the best way to handle it. Tell her directly but with humor that you're blunt and straight spoken, just like you did in your journal. Let her know all the wonderful things you've heard about her, that she has your respect, and that you hope the two of you can really work together well. Let her know how much this business means to you, not just as a business but in terms of life goals. Oh, and really smile when you're doing so. One thing about sweet, likable, fragile personalities is that they want to be liked, and they usually want to be trusted and respected. By nurturing that part of her, this might go better than you anticipate.

emmapeelDallas said...

Ditto Cynthia. Exactly.

And congratulations! I just have a feeling this is going to be great for you.


Globetrotter said...

Dear Lisa,

You have no idea how many times this past month I have wondered how the whole restaurant deal was progressing. Ever since your post on delivering the "packet" I have been on pins and needles for you, but afraid to ask.

Congratulations!~ You are well on your way!

As far as your dilemma is concerned...

You're obviously capable of magical thinking since you were once a believing Catholic.

When I sold my ballet school to the Penna. Ballet, I had to deal with 2 prima donna directors who were in charge of making sure the transition went smoothly. I had to work under them for a year during the transition period (part of the contract) and yet maintain a happy face to keep my numbers up and get the second pay-out. I simply pretended I was in high school auditioning for the lead in Mary Poppins.

It worked.

gigi said...

Honestly, I find it hard to believe that you are as brutal a personality as you seem to believe. If you were, you would not be drawn to such a people-pleasing business.

Cynthia is right (Cynthia is always right.) Treat this girl as you yourself would expect to be treated ~ with dignity and respect for what she has to offer. If she's sensitive, think compassionately; just be a little more circumspect in your interactions with her. It doesn't sound like anything to be frightened of.

And congratulations on being on your way! So, what are we serving?