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Surviving Suicide – Part 3

May 15, 2010

OOOPS it’s been 10 days since my last post, my bad! Part of my blogging is to have discipline, so note to self – blog frequently and daily!

The Firestone tire recall happened as I said previously 6 months after we took over the existing Firestone dealership. It also happened pretty much at the same time as we separated. It was Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14th and I decided to stay a bit late to pay some bills and finish up some paperwork. My husband headed home and I told him I’d be home soon. I got delayed till maybe 7:30pm and by the time I got home, he was in a foul mood. Told me I put the business first, that I was not able to turn off from the business and I was a little surprised at his comment as he really never celebrated any occasion – in fact, hated them so I hadn’t thought this one was any different and I really was overdue with paying suppliers. Looking back at it all now, I realize Rob had been in a foul mood for quite some time, had been almost picking fights so that he could leave the house and go to our boat. This night was no different, he finished his bath, I was making dinner and getting ready for all of us to sit down and eat together, when he came out and announced he was going to the boat and staying there. I was hurt and confused, but was too tired to argue and he left and my son and I ate dinner. I remember thinking, “well isn’t this just a spectacular Valentine’s Day!”.

The following day I came into work, Rob was already in and it was early so no customers were in the showroom and we had a chat. I basically said things just don’t seem to be working and he agreed. It was at that point that I suggested we take a break from each other that he stay at the boat and my son and I at the house. He quickly agreed. Got through the rest of that day, did a lot of thinking about things as I always did, was quite exhausted with it all and went on home by myself. We had a housekeeper/nanny for my son which really helped out because she’d pick my son up and drop him off to school each day, did housekeeping and grocery shopping for us, and also prepared the evening meal which was a huge bonus as I didn’t finish work until 6pm each day. I didn’t mention anything to my housekeeper who was also a friend of ours from the yacht club we boated out of. I wasn’t sure whether this separation would be permanent or not so just kept it all quiet for the time being until I had figured things out. I can’t recall when, but we did let family know we’d had a mutually agreeable separation but were continuing to work together. I’d always put far more effort into the business than my late husband, he was constantly telling me HE was the business, without him there’d be no business. I’d listened to this for about 15+ years and always knew that his talents combined with mine made the business work, neither one could work without the other, and although it would have been really nice to be appreciated for what I did, it wasn’t necessary for me to know clearly what I brought to the table. I wasn’t one to make rash decisions so wanted to give the separation some time before deciding what to do with the business, but it was very difficult working together and Rob did not make it any easier. It wasn’t long before I noticed some pretty big changes. He was taking quite a bit of time off which he’d never done before, would always have some excuse as to why. Then I noticed he was taking much better care of his grooming than he’d ever done in all the 25+ years we’d been together. It was always a bone of contention with us, his personal grooming and how he dressed, but as he was constantly fixing something, whether it be at home, at work or on the boat, he always just wore jeans and t-shirts unless we were going out somewhere special. Now he bought a lot of new clothing from a very expensive men’s store. I’d always handled all the money whether it be personal or business, so I was wondering where all the money was coming from to pay for these new clothes. Didn’t take me long to figure it out that he was skimming and not telling me.

When we separated, I told Rob I was giving up coming in on Saturdays which was a requirement for the franchise. I was getting pretty suspicious as to where he was getting the money to live on other than the weekly paycheque. He did not have a credit card, never had one, didn’t have his own bank account either as I always handled everything. On a Monday morning I came into work, saw that a customer had picked up their car from the previous week and asked about their payment. Got some insane explanation that the customer had freaked out at their bill, that he refused to pay full price and only gave a portion. None of it added up. This was a long time customer who had made the transition to our new shop, I knew him very well, so I decided to call him and tell him that Rob had not marked down payment so I was calling to get the details. I didn’t let on something was amiss, and he told me a totally different figure than what Rob had said was paid. The customer mentioned he found it odd I wasn’t in when he picked up, said I don’t want to cause trouble because I’ve got to bring my car back in for one more little thing, so please don’t tell Rob what I’m about to share with you until I get my car finished. I agreed and he then told me that Rob had told him we’d separated, that I was a bitch and wouldn’t give him any money, etc. and that he should just pay Rob and not tell me what was really paid. This was a major faux pas on Rob’s part from a business standpoint alone, never mind ethicially and it made the poor customer most uncomfortable. The customer had been with us for years, he always would shoot the breeze with me, had watched our son grow up, etc. He should never have been placed in this position. Our customer came back in, got a little tweak done and he was on his way. As soon as this transpired, I paged Rob to come into the office on the loud speaker. He should have learned that whenever I did this, it always was not good news lol! He came into the showroom, sat down and I calmly said, I know what you did with the customer. I know exactly how much he paid you, I know what you said to him about us and what the heck were you thinking???? The colour sort of drained out of his face at that point and he had no choice but to admit it. I told him as I’d always run the financial end of things, that it would be very easy for me to skim from the business and he wouldn’t have a clue, but I was not that type of person, I had integrity all along and wasn’t about to stop now, so if he was smart, he’d stop this insanity and should never have put our customer in this position and that in fact, we’d lost him over a few hundred dollars of greed. I also told Rob that I always found out everything bad he did, so he got that little boy scorned look on his face, apologized, said he’d not do that again and returned out to the shop area.

I realized then that I would have to be very watchful of what Rob did in the future, but I also had to move forward and let it go if we were going to continue running the business together. The whole atmosphere at our shop had changed, the mechanics who I got on well with were tense too, we’d had a brief meeting telling them we’d separated for a while to work things out but that we’d continue running the biz together to clear the air, but it didn’t seem to help. It had always been a fun place to work at, I was sad it had changed.

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