Ten Days that Shook My World

Yes…but how do you bump a thread without posting? Never saw that before.

The spammer posted causing the thread to bump. The mods sent the spammy post to the cornfield, leaving the subsequent posts.

This happens all the time.

I suggested in ATMB not long ago: When a mod does that (delete a spam that raised a zombie), don’t just delete it. Instead, edit it to delete all the text and put a comment in its place saying so.

Various responses seemed to indicate:
(a) It’s been suggested before.
(b) Mods (one at least) claims that’s how it’s usually done, at least by that mod. (But I haven’t seen it.)

Go figure.

(Stay tuned, I’ll see if I can dredge up a link.)

ETA: Okay, here it is:
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?p=16321170#post16321170
(See Post #6 et seq.) Seems what happens is: The mods to that, but “soft delete” the post so only mods can see it and not the rest of us. The suggestion that the post should remain for the rest of us to see too seems to have been completely ignored.

JohnT, still interested in an update. Just curious how it’s all worked out

Yep, me too!

Wow, this one brings back a lot of memories!

I don’t know about you, but when I re-read old threads of mine about how I acted, thought, etc, I always wince at how bad I come across – and I wasn’t winning high marks for maturity in this situation, that is for sure.

TLDR version: My situation has changed so dramatically since 2003 that it is literally like reading about another life.

OK, so here’s the update. Go, grab a cup of coffee and something to munch on, and while you are at it, put on some comfortable clothes. This is going to be a long one…

Upon leaving my parents company in 2003, I immediately started my own business, Distribution Solutions, where I provided routing and verification services to the telephone directory delivery industry. I didn’t do too badly, didn’t really make a lot of money, but things were going OK for me for about a year. Then I made a decision that was probably even worse than the one that started this thread – I was asked to become head of another distribution company in September 2004, this one also in Knoxville TN (my parent’s company spawned LOTS of competitors!) This company, CRG, lost its major client and was treading water – two of the three principals were not very hard workers (actually, one was one of the laziest people I have ever met), and the third had had it with his partners so he brought me in. I bought into the company, somehow made myself President, and took charge of it.

I didn’t do too badly at first – reorganized the branding and marketing, landed some new clients, got rid of a bad employee or two. But it was extremely stressful and cash was always an issue… always.

You know what’s stressful? Waking up Monday morning with $15k in receivables that you may or may not get that week, $3k in the bank, and $7k in payroll that’s due no later than Thursday at 2pm. You know what is really stressful? Doing this week after week after week after week. Second mortgages, going through a period of being not paid, doing simple tasks yourself that do nothing to keep the business afloat (but you don’t want to spend the money to get them done, so you end up doing them yourself rather than trying to figure out how to get more money and/or how to save more money)… all the idiocy’s (idiocies?) small business owners do to keep their businesses afloat. CRG was in this position when I bought into it ($25k), never really got out, and then finally crashed and burned in late 2005, when I was (somehow) able to sell the thing to a local investor for the grand total of $2,000 and his commitment to honor our commitments.

So I essentially worked for 15 months to turn about $40,000 into $500. And when all was said and done, I owed the company $250 for miscellaneous credit card expenses, so I got $250. But I didn’t even get that – my daughter got a jungle gym for her birthday and the new owner of CRG got one of his people to assist me to put it together… and billed me $100. :slight_smile:

I was quite a wreck after this. I never went into therapy, but I would not be surprised if I had a mental breakdown of sorts. There were days where if I accomplished 1 or two things that day, I felt like I had a good one. I even had a panic attack prior to selling the company, when things were at their worst. So… yeah.

To paraphrase Captain Kirk: As they say on Earth: c’est la vie.

Anyway, by that time I had made up with my Dad and stepmother. Just swallowed my pride, admitted I made a mistake, and there it was. Hell, I even asked them if they were interested in buying CRG, but they didn’t (which was smart on their part. And before you ask “why?”, three out of four of the principals in CRG asked me to do it, so I had a fiduciary duty to them to get it done.)

My father had taken ill with his final illness sometime in 2004, 2005 (sclera derma of the lung tissue.) Because of his decreasing capability in regards to running the business, I was asked back to the parents company to help “guide MDS through this difficult transitional period.” Which I did, eventually taking control of all internal operations as VP of Operations. However, I harbored no illusions that I would take over the entire company.

My stepmother was still crazy, still cruel, still as f-ed up as she was prior to my leaving in 2002. But I learned to tune her out and would often just leave when she was ranting and raving, letting the other employees deal with it (this tactic had been used before, I just never had the cajones to do so. But what was she going to do – fire me? Really?)

I literally could tell you story after story after story (and will tell y’all one, eventually), but it all doesn’t really matter.

Oddly enough, until now that period between my rehiring and right after my father’s death in 2007 was some of my best times professionally and productivity-wise. I reorganized MDS’s back office so that it was the best in the industry – the routing, the call center, recruiting, customer service – all was top notch, provided employees, clients, and executives with top-notch, real-time data. I learned a lot, did a lot, and the improvement in back office efficiency allowed the company to deliver over 40 million directories in 2006 and 2007, almost 10% of every phone book published in the country during those two years.

My Dad passed away on October 1st, 2007.

My stepmother, being who she is, had to have the funeral on October 6th, a Saturday. She couldn’t give a fuck that she was burying him on his daughter’s birthday (my oldest sister), it was imperative to her that she bury the man as fast as she could. In addition, she didn’t care for the fact that my father had opted for a Catholic funeral (“My children are Catholic, so I would like to be buried as one as well”, he told me.) However, he made his wishes well-enough known that the only thing she could do about it was drive the priest crazy in regards to specific Bible passages that were in books not officially recognized by the Catholic Church.

Imagine my pleasure when, at 11pm Friday night, 11 hours away from the beginning of the ceremony, the priest calls me up to say that he can no longer do the funeral as (a) he is tired of her shit, and (b) she keeps insisting that he read passages from the book of Habbukuk (or something like that – be damned if I’m going to look it up right now.) I’ve never considered myself much of a salesman, imho, but I somehow convinced the man to stick it out 12 more hours. “Turn off your phone and I’ll see you tomorrow.”

We buried him in a small cemetery about 60 miles from Knoxville in her home town. I know for a fact that in 2011 (the last time I was in Knoxville) she had yet to get a headstone for his grave, even though he was due one for his service in Korea. I still doubt that he has one.

After he passed away, I started looking for another job – I had no desire to work for her, no desire to help her increase her fortune (my Dad died with approximately $6-12 million to his name.) There was no will reading – she had somehow finagled things so that everything was left to her and, since she was there at the founding of MDS, it’s not as if it was some Anna Nicole Smith situation. The entire family was disinherited and the only thing of my father’s that I received was this ceramic elephant he bought in Tokyo back in 1951.

I got a job with Topix.com selling ads on an internet newspaper that few had heard of. I started in July of 2008 right when the economy started to really contract, and by September 15th, it was pretty much over. I kept the position for another two months, but nobody was buying advertising on an internet newspaper after Lehman Brothers… at least they weren’t buying them from me. Topix finally let me (and half their staff) go in mid-November after their funding was reduced: Sequoia Capital had released a Powerpoint Presentation of Doom which largely put the kibosh on Silicon Valley funding for a couple of years and I was one of the casualties.

I went back to MDS and worked a couple of contract jobs, but had absolutely no desire to ask for a paying position back. I was hanging out in the office early January 2009 when I had an epiphany: I need to get the hell out of here and never come back, no matter how much they need me. I remember standing by Kathy’s desk – she had asked me a question about some Windows problem she was having – and I leaned over, had the realization, and stood back up, telling her “I’m sorry. I really am, but I have to go. Staying here and helping is not good for me and I need to get out of here and stay out.”

So I went home and threw out some resumes. Thank God that one of them actually stuck, whereupon I received a call from a San Antonio-based distribution company (this one focused on door hangers, product samples, and the like.) Had a long phone call with the President, they flew me to Texas to meet them, we hit it off, and I was hired and on the job by February 9th, 2009.

My stepmother, of course, tried to put a stop to this by invoking some non-compete that I had signed over a decade earlier while the company was still in Georgia. I told her to fuck off and that if she was interested in challenging it in court, I would be glad to submit as part of my evidence the fact that I worked as an independent contractor within the last year and would petition the court (and the IRS) to make a ruling as to the independent contractor (IC) status of all of MDS’s IC’s (and you’re an IC if you deliver phone directories and GOD FORBID they should be reclassified because that means that the company could be ordered to go back to the beginning of their formation and recalculate all IC pay as if they were employees – and then you would have to pay the state all back payroll taxes, unemployment taxes, interest, and penalties.) There were some other strong arguments on my side, but that was all I really needed and the matter was dropped.

I last spoke to her in January, 2009 and haven’t heard her voice since.

So my wife, daughter, and I moved to San Antonio. We love it here and have found a home for the rest of our lives. The new position was great and I learned quite a bit about a market I had no idea existed in 2008. ADS (the new company) had some problems* and I am no longer with them nor is the guy who hired me, nor a few other key people. In fact, they are likely about to go out of business (they’ve been having trouble meeting payroll the last few weeks, which is as near a death sentence as can be.)

    1. Too many chiefs, not enough workers, and a cost structure commiserate with a company twice, three times its size. A company with $7 million in revenue does not need a CEO and a President and a Board of Directors. The CEO+President were taking anywhere from $400-600k/year out of the company in salary and benefits alone, and everybody they hired was “VP” this and “Director of… “ that (including myself.)
  1. Lack of focus. To make money in this industry you have to own your home market, but ADS always focused on national brokerage, which has never worked. The people who make serious jack (and yes, there are some people in this industry with net worth’s over $100m) dominate their home market and ignore the others. ADS was just as interested (more, even) in delivering 10,000 pieces in Wilmington, DE as they were in delivering the same quantity in San Antonio, TX.

I could go on, but trust me – I know what I’m talking about.

So I’m in the process of starting my own company, focusing on the San Antonio and Austin markets (the two cities are about 60 miles apart and combined they make the 18th largest MSA by GMP with almost $200 billion in economic activity combined between the two metropolitan areas.) Unlike, say, Dallas (10 companies or LA (20 companies), there are no other competitors in these cities for this market, so fuck it – I’m going to own it. Will I be worth 10s of millions in 15, 25 years? I have no idea, but I’m quite confident that at the very least, I can give my wife and daughter a nice lifestyle while still saving quite a bit. So things are looking well.

And my stepmother?

She’s going broke. MDS closed its doors for good in July, 2012 and her home was foreclosed on by Regions Bank this past April. While phone books haven’t had a good 6 years since 2007, a well-managed company could still have withstood the onslaught. But she drove all her experienced people away (I estimated that the combined # of years of experience that left the company between 2002 and 2011 was over 150 years) and her personality was not suited to management – financial or people management.

And I think part of this (the financial difficulties) was my father’s doing. Once he realized that he was dying (probably around 2005) he convinced her to purchase a $650k home and another $1.3 million in adjoining property. This property was purchased in 2006 at the height of the boom and my father told me that he designed the loan payment so that there was a $1 million bubble payment due in 2011. When I asked him what his plans were to repay it he said “What do I care? I’ll be dead and it will be her problem.”

Not that she couldn’t contribute to her own financial apocalypse. I could tell you about the time that she purchased 150 pairs of shoes from some website, or about the fact that for 2 years she had somebody on staff whose job it was was to solely organize and arrange all her Craigslist purchases (there were binders of them.) I could tell you about the Lexus she bought, but instead of getting one from the dealer in Knoxville, she bought one from somebody in Cleveland and flew an employee up there so he could drive it down to Knoxville.

But what I will tell you is this, the story I promised about 1,500 words ago.

When my father entered the hospital for the final time in early-to-mid September, he was “fine” for about a week but slowly slipped into a coma. My sister, a doctor, kept tabs on him but wasn’t an attending physician, obviously, (though her partner was.) Anyway, my father in his last week of life was largely unconscious – drugged up, couldn’t breathe without a machine, had rare moments of wakefulness… many of you have been in this situation and, yes, it sucks.

Let me tell you something about what it’s like being in this state – you’re not “asleep”, not in deep REM sleep, unaware of what’s happening around you. You have moments of lucidity, you can hear things, you’re aware of other people, you just likely don’t have the energy, the inclination, the ability to respond, talk to them.

During this time, my stepmother stayed at the hospital 24/7, most of the time around my father. She had the idea that what he needed was a lung transplant and that if he could get one, everything would be fine. Unfortunately, they don’t really give lung transplants to 75 year-old men in the terminal stage of their illness, so she was completely stymied, even though she wanted, demanded that he have a lung transplant.

Eventually, she developed a theory that there was a “conspiracy” to kill my father, a conspiracy comprised of all the doctors who were at the hospital, a conspiracy that, sadly, included my sister, for if my sister wasn’t a part of it, then why was she telling my stepmother that Dad wasn’t a candidate for one?

So my stepmother went on this vein for days, ranting and raving about how the doctors and hospital were conspiring to kill my father, how the conspiracy extended to other area hospitals as they would not accept my father for whatever reasons (she tried to get him transferred to a more “accepting and helpful” institution, but none of them would accept him – likely because he was dying and they didn’t want him to croak in the ambulance or something.)

Anyway, Friday afternoon, September 28th, 2007… I was there, my wife was there, stepmom was there, my sister-the-doctor, and a few other people. And my father had his last moment of lucidity, a rather emphatic one (for want of a better word), where he struggled to put himself into a sitting position while my stepmother was saying “Oh, he’s coming to! He’s going to make it through this!”, stuff like that. And my Dad, in the last words ever said to any of his children, looked over at my sister and angrily said

“See? Your plan didn’t work.”

Whereupon he fell back into his bed, re-entered his coma, and passed away 5 days later.

That’s the sort of person my stepmother was – a poisonous, cruel, callous person who did nothing but strew human and emotional turmoil and disaster in her wake.

And I’m thrilled to be rid of her.

(And just so y’all understand, we never blamed Dad for saying that. He was dying, in pain, and high as a kite. But we do blame her for putting the thought in his head through her endless repetition of that theme. Oh yes, we definitely blame her.)

Uh…

“… many of you have been in this situation…”

should read

“… many of you have had family and/or friends in this situation…”

If the first one is true, congratulations on your miraculous recovery!

Thanks for the update JohnT. Congratulations on your new business venture.

Thanks for the update.

You are a true survivor.

I also would like to thank you for the update. You sound like you’d be a good person to work for, as well.

Thanks for the compliments, everybody. :slight_smile:

Well, that was quit a fast forward. Thanks for sharing (and to be clear this is completely non-snarky). Best of luck.

Was anyone else picturing the evil step-monster as Cruella Deville?

Cruella Deville

My stepmother (Not really her, but close. This lady just doesn’t look mean enough. And, to be fair, this woman is a little bit larger than my stepmother.)

So, uh… no. :wink:

How about Ms. Trunchbull?

Ah, gotcha. She just has Cruella’s spirit. :slight_smile:

Her spirit, not her hips to waist ratio, yes. :wink:

You’re welcome !!

Can I have a job? :smiley:

Another update:

Stepmom had a large estate sale two weekends ago where she sold a lot of her hoarded stuff. She had until July 17th (est.) to get out of the foreclosed house, and I expect she didn’t just get in the car and drive away. Oh no, I’m picturing sheriff cars, tranquilizer darts, and fascinated crowds.

Anyway, they sold a lot of stuff and she was so traumatized by the entire affair that she didn’t leave her room the entire day. I was told that she had contacted my sisters about this, but when I called up Sis the Doc, she claimed she had no idea that this was going on. So it’s quite possible that some family heirlooms (i.e., stuff owned by my father and mother) was sold to help satisfy her debts.

Next month (August) they’re going to hold auctions on all the warehouses full of crap that she owns. Talking to one of her ex-assistants, apparently they filled 3 30cy dumpsters full of old business records, magazines, and crap that has accumulated since 1998.

I have no idea where she’s living. I think she has a small house, already paid for, but that’s a rumor so I won’t bet my week’s pay on it…

And??? Sorry, so it’s been almost 5 years since you updated us on this fascinating story, seriously, it’s quite the read, and now the question is, …and???