Thanksgivings for me are almost always regrettable. The buildup is better than the actual execution, if you get my meaning.
I work constantly, which means my time is semiprescious to me. While I'd love to be a lazy no-good lay-about like that Potter fellow who went and got himself killed in a car crash, I simply can't. My family depends on me. I depend on me; to bring home the bacon, so to say.
As a navy veteran, I'm pretty good at handling high intensity and high stress situations. I'm Mr. Cool. Always calm. For small family issues, I'm as cool as ice baby. So, it comes as no surprise, when this Thanksgiving, things were going to hell in a hand basket, I was sitting back, smiling like the Cheshire cat.
To tell this right, to put everything into context, let's rewind and I'll give you a little bit of backstory.
I run a family owned and operated business. Internet retail to be more specific. Everyone in the family, who lives within the vicinity, has a role in it. My mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister-in-law, her boyfriend/fiancé, and a few friends of the family, not to mention my entire household numbering six.
So, about a month ago, right before Halloween, things were starting to heat up. What I mean by that is, my sister-in-law was complaining to me on a multiple times per day, basis. Mom isn't doing this right. Dad is falling asleep at his computer. Mom said something mean to me. Dad fucked up the inventory on this item, and we caught it, but what if we didn't?
Mom and dad are in their sixties and seventies. They have health issues and a few other cognitive things they're dealing with. They might not be the fastest, or the sharpest, but they get the job done. Moreso, if you supervise them and follow up, and speak to them, and educate them, they can figure out what they are doing wrong, usually right when it's happening. Mom puts postage on our packages. Dad does the receiving of merchandise. Sister-in-law, is the Office Manager...
I also want to preface this by saying, things had been heating up for a while. We've had arguments, we've had fights, screaming matches... the whole family run New Jersey bakery kind of thing. I almost feel like my business was becoming one of those Kitchen Nightmares episodes where nobody can get along, or shut their mouth long enough, to do their job.
Oh, and then there is the constant money issues. Money, money, money. My sister-in-law, being the Office Manager, has access to the time clock, and knows what everyone is getting paid, and basically has control over almost every aspect of the business, while my wife, or I, are out of the office. Let me put that out there too.
So, in June/July time frame, we started seeing a drop in sales that coincided with the economy, and inflation, etc. The big suck. Gas prices were going up, prices of everything else soon followed suit, and sales went down. A recipe for disaster. And, with the decrease in sales, the person pulling merchandise for orders (SIL-BF), had very little to do.
I started getting this "feeling" that things weren't being done right, months ago. I constantly made excuses because, well, as my Office Manager, I have to support my sister-in-law, and the way she runs the place while I'm gone. My household works the late shift. Everyone else works the early shift. Not by my choice, but by theirs. I pretty much let everyone do what they want, work when they want, take time off when they want, as long as the work gets done. I'm that laid back. But now (or then), I was not feeling it.
I started doing some investigative work. Little things mind you. I did spot checks, spot inventory, took a look in our warehouse units, snooped around. What I found was shocking, frustrating, and questionable. Without getting too much into it, I brought my issues to the Office Manager and was told things would be corrected. I waited a month. Nothing happened. I brought it up again. Again, nothing happened. The more I pressed, the more back-push I got.
Two weeks before Halloween, when things were getting to a tipping point, money was so tight and things were not being done correctly, I had enough. I started coming in earlier and earlier. Normally, I work 7 days a week, 2pm to 10pm, without a break except to go to the bathroom. Now I was working 1pm, or noon, to 10pm. Then one day, I decided to come in at 11.
I was sitting at my desk, and at 11:15, the phone rings. Another pet peeve of mine, is people not answering the phone. "Oh, I'm too busy packing packages" or "I'll call them back when I have a chance to sit down" was the constant excuse from the Office Manager. I'll add that she's constantly on the phone with nurses, doctors, the school, whoever, as long as it's not a customer calling, she'll pick up the phone and talk, usually going outside to smoke at the same time. Her BF smokes like a god-damned chimney as well. Every day, when I pull up, they're both outside smoking. EVERY DAY... except today.
I pick up the phone and say the spiel, and I get a "Is _____ there?" Yesh, I'm not using her name, but he, the BF, was asking for my sister-in-law. I said, "yup!" and put him on hold and yelled for her to pick up the phone. I then wondered why he wasn't at work... And then I got a bad feeling...
A few minutes later, after checking the time clock software, I found that the BF had clocked out a few minutes before I walked in. That explained why he wasn't outside the FRONT of my business, smoking, with the OM, when I pulled up. Since I don't clock in or out, I had no idea just how close his clock out punch was, compared to my walking in the door... so, I left it at that for a while... until it nagged at me enough to go check the cameras.
Yes... we have HD cameras installed INSIDE and OUTSIDE our business. Outside because we've had some crime, and we've provided invaluable evidence to the authorities in many instances because of those cameras. Inside, because you never know when someone is going to miss-place their keys, merchandise, order sheets, their purse, or steal money out of your wallet on your desk... Yeah. Its happened.
Once the tension had built up enough, I went to my bro who checked the cameras with me, and we found a number of things. 1.) The BF came into the office at 7am. He punched in, did his thing, and by 8:15, he was done. Then he was gone, off camera, for two hours. Then we saw him miraculously come back on camera, and then leave again. He never punched out. I couldn't be sure he wasn't transporting stuff from the front of the office to the back, so, I had to do some more checking. 2.) The camera system time is off by an hour. 3.) The time clock system time is off by 3 minutes.
After some additional snooping, I realized the impossible had become possible. Somehow, the BF had clocked out, EXACTLY thirty seconds before I walked in, and somehow, he had teleported past me, into an invisible car, and left... Rewinding the video footage from when I walked in the door, told me the truth of the situation, and it wasn't good.
BF and OM (SIL) came into work, clocked in, and then, when the BF was done pulling orders to be packed, he walked out the door without clocking out. He was gone from 8:15 am, and had not come back. Who I thought I saw come in and out, was the postal delivery guy dressed in plain clothes, dropping off our letter mail. He would come back later in the day to pick up packages. At 11 am, when I pulled up, the OM saw me, JUMPED out of her chair and rushed to the time clock to punch her BF out of the system.
Since the system will show me whether a punch is card generated, or manually inputted, this wasn't just a simple matter of; "Oh, he forgot to punch out." No, it was intentional fraud, and she was complicit in it. Now, I couldn't trust either one of them, which was a very bad thing. But family is family, and business is business, right? I should still be family, even when they're ripping me off? Oh, the rabbit hole is much deeper. Let me explain.
My SIL, the OM, owes me money. So, does the BF. Thousands of dollars they borrowed. Child support wants five grand in payments right now or you go to jail? Ask your bro-in-law for a loan because he owns the company you work for, and if you go to jail, you won't be able to show up for work! Court fees and fines add up quick, and bail, and when it comes down to it, a few thousand now saves you a few ten-thousand later. You got sick and spent a week in the hospital and two more at home? Bro-in-law helps you out with a loan equal to what you would have made if you worked. You're good for it. You'll work extra once you're back, and have the money to pay him back, right? Need a couple hundred for Black-Friday Shopping because you can't manage your finances, or stop smoking three packs a day? Ask the bro-in-law! And if the bro-in-law is all tapped out, as the sister-in-law (my wife) to use the charge card! A new refrigerator, stove, dish washer, pressure washer, lawn mower, transmission, and more! Why not? You're good for it. You'll pay him back. You work for him after all.
Twenty Thousand Dollars. They owe me Twenty Thousand Dollars. They work less than 30 hours a week, at best. In at 8 or 9 am, and off the clock by 3 pm, 5 days a week, and that's if they have no doctors' appointments or other things they need to do... At the time, I thought they worked so little because the work just wasn't there, but when my OM told me the reason why orders are taking 5-8 days to ship out, IN STOCK items, was because she can't handle it all on her own and we're "not helping her", that was ALMOST the last straw.
The next day, I showed up at 7 am. When people showed up and put their key in the lock, only to find the door unlocked already, they were immediately suspicious. They thought someone left the door unlocked. When they opened the door and saw me sitting at my desk, they were surprised, then shocked, and then... pissed off.
When I took over packing the orders, answering the phones, and doing all my other work including payroll and admin, ordering, and printing orders, supervising, and handling any issue that came up, it was clear that the OM had very little to do, with me "helping". So, she sat and got caught up on her spreadsheet, which is a redundant google doc to track order status, that she manually changes each day, to match what is already in the automated system. You know... something that's not needed and wastes time.
In three days, we were caught up. In a week, I was telling them all, everyone who was within ear-shot, that we were going to go into the warehouse units and do a complete inventory because they were fucking horrible. Trash and half-empty soda bottles, debris everywhere, whoever was pulling or putting away merchandise, had no respect for the warehouse, or the merch. It was disgusting. It needed to be fixed and I was done waiting MONTHS for the OM to handle it. Basically, I was done waiting because I knew the OM was never going to tell her BF to do it. He has a hard enough time doing as she says when he's at work, because he's a... Well, you know. Fill in the blank.
So..., Now we are up to speed. D-Day arrives. Nobody is in the office except me and the OM. Mom and dad are at the doctors. BF is pulling orders (going on 5 hours now, when I know he can do it in less than 1) But whatever. He's family. My wife is at the store. I'm doing my mom's job, putting postage on packages, "helping out", when the OM comes to me and starts complaining about mom, dad, and our embroidery person.
Our embroidery person is 80 and her mother is 98. She's active and smart and really amazing. She was doing a project for me in the warehouse, exactly the way I wanted it done, and the OM decided she was going to take issue with the way it was being done. "She's blocking the shelves. She's "overloading" them," she says. I tell her that's what I told her to do. My OM takes offense and tells me "You're not listening to me!" So, I sit back and say, "okay, explain it again. I'm listening."
So, she goes on to repeat her words again. Verbatim. "She's overloading the shelves. Now, there's no room to put anything on the shelves, even if you wanted to."
I smile. Isn't that the point? Fill every inch of a shelf so you have more room for stock on other shelves? Half empty shelves are a waste of space. Old discontinued items you'll NEVER get more of, don't need more room for stuff that will NEVER arrive. And putting new stuff with old stuff, doesn't make sense. Old stuff, which is old, because nobody ever bought it, needs to stay in the back. You need to know where it is, but you certainly don't need more "room" on those shelves to put new stuff. I explain that to the OM, who then tells me I don't know what I'm talking about. "We use those shelves," she says. I smile. I know she does. I know she has no idea how to run a warehouse, or inventory, which is why I'm having someone else put things right, a little at a time.
"Well," I say. "Before we go re-arranging everything, I've just had her do in that location, there are other things we need taken care of. Things that are URGENT." And I start rattling off a list of spaces that need attention. The broken bins and unbagged clothing in one location. The garbage in another. The leaning tower of boxes in a third. The bins stacked inside of bins, without lids, broken, bulging, shattered and wasteful. I have the list in my head, ready to go, every moment of every day. All the things that need to be fixed, that one person cannot do, unless they really want to do it. The last part seems to set her off.
"You know what Kimmy found yesterday?" I ask. Kimmy is my daughter who is amazing and a real hard worker, when she's not goofing off. She has a head for what needs to be done, and how to do it, but she's not perfect. Nobody is. But she's damn near close.
"No, what?" my OM asks.
"In unit X015, the shelves are backwards," I say. "She went to pull a mug yesterday and spent an hour searching for it."
"Where was it?" my OM asks.
"In the unit. On the shelf. But it was the last one we had. She had to physically remove 200 coffee mugs from the shelf to find it, all the way in the back. Coffee mugs where we have 18, 26, 32 of the same mug, should be in their own row, and in the back. Coffee mugs that are the last one, need to be up front."
"I know that," the OM says. "But, who do you expect is going to go over and do that, huh?" She then adds, "we don't have the time to go rearrange that unit."
"Well, it needed to be done when the mugs were moved over there last month," I say. The OM loses her shit.
"Well, that's what YOU GET when you decide to hire CHILD LABOR and only pay then FIVE DOLLARS AN HOUR!" She screams at me while slapping one hand into the other for emphasis.
I smile. You see, over the summer, before all this shit, I was TOLD that we needed more space, and that we needed to get personal stuff out of the business space. My "personal" stuff has always been where it was, since before I ever started building the business. Now apparently, I needed to move it to the back of the warehouse, so that the front of the warehouse could house coffee mugs. That way we could move expensive hand bags to a new spot and have more room for blah, blah, blah. Okay, fine.
So, I started on moving it, all on my own. I did a little each day, with the goal of having it done in two weeks. Three days into it, I'm told not to worry, take my time. So, I do. A week later, I'm told it needs to be done TOMORROW. So, I bust ass and in one day, I completely move everything, sweep the floor, and it's ready for shelving and coffee mugs. YAY!
And then, it sits for almost two months while I'm told that they don't have enough time to move the coffee mugs right now, but they'll get it done soon. Again, this is back when things are slow, and inflation is creeping up.
Then one day, the OM comes to me and says "Here. We need to talk about our "game plan". Come outside so I can smoke." Yay. I hate the fucking sun in my eyes, I hate second hand smoke, and I hate sweltering hot June and July days in Florida, unless I'm on the beach. I step outside where the OM explains that in order to facilitate the move of the coffee mugs "Correctly", they will do a complete inventory, open every box and verify each mug, recount, change locations, and do it all correctly. I love the word correctly. I really do. I like it a lot. Everything she is saying makes sense because I've said it before.
And then she says, "and I'm going to have ____, ____, and ____, come in and help. They can move mugs, count, sort it all out. We'll have it done in a single weekend. That way, they can earn a bit of cash over the summer, you know, and you'll just pay them what you pay _____." The last blank is my OM daughter who helps out when/if she is in the office, either off from school or whatever. She's not an employee, or on the books. She's a kid. I pay her $5 an hour, out of my own pocket, which was fine.
I used to LOVE working those kinds of jobs when I was a kid. Earning my own money to buy videos games. I lived in Michigan which has a ten-cent deposit on soda and beer cans/bottles, so if there were no jobs to do, I was out hunting pop bottles to return and make some cold hard cash. I might make five bucks in a day, bike riding twenty miles, so a job that paid me $3 an hour was a dream. Anyway, so, I agreed to this racketeering scenario with my OM with the hopes that the job would be done quickly.
Three weeks later, I come in to find three kids laying on the office floor. Of course, the OM and BF were outside smoking to begin with, but when I came inside, literally, the kids were just lying there. One coffee mug shelf was empty. The BF goes back to the computer, updating inventory and locations. The OM goes back to packing orders. The kids lay there and moan about how hot it is outside, and how the floor is so coooooool.
All day long, for eight hours, they laid around, bitched, and got paid. They moved two shelves of mugs. I could have done more myself. My daughter could have done more. My son, who is a lay-about in his own right, but can really work hard if you take away his phone, could have done more. I love him to death, but he has a phone addiction problem we are trying to corral. Anyway...
Day two, a lot of the same. Day three. Weekend two. By this time, I'm done. I tell my OM, do not have the kids come in and help. If you can't get it done yourselves, tell me, I'll do it myself. But I am not paying three kids, at $5 an hour, 40 FUCKING HOURS A WEEK OVER THREE DAYS, $200 each, each week, for doing close to nothing. The gravy train just fucking derailed. And, I told my OM, her daughter could not come in and help out anymore because I literally had no money left to give. Not a fucking cent. "Well, you have to pay her for the hours she worked last week, but that's fine then," she says and I shell out another $80 in cash, that I didn't have to spare, to her daughter, while she owes me THOUSANDS. But I don't like putting kids in the middle of adult bullshit. I was a kid who constantly got put in the middle, so I don't fucking do it to others if I can avoid it.
The more I think about it, the more it burns. I didn't suggest these kids "help out" or work, or get paid. I believe it was a scheme to get more money out of me for very little work, and maximum reward. Money, I gave to their kids, meant they didn't have to give them money out of their own pocket, and when their kids whined for money, they could say, "you got your own money," or "you shouldn't have spent all your own money already."
So..., after my OM throws this in my face, my act of good will and upstanding whatever you want to call it, well... no good deed goes unpunished right? I tell her how it is. "I didn't hire them. I didn't suggest it! I didn't dream it up! I didn't have anything to do with it, other than, I agreed to it, and I paid them! And when it comes down to it, YOU should have been the one supervising them! You should have followed up! BF should have made sure to explain the finer points of how to put coffee mugs on a shelf, instead of leaving it to a bunch of kids to do as if they had the experience to do the same job he does, but for far less money!"
Well. To put it lightly, she did not take this well. She starts spouting verbal diarrhea like she just ate late at taco hell while sick with the flu. "YOU CAN NEVER GIVE A FUCKING COMPLIMENT CAN YOU! ALL YOU DO IS FUCKING BITCH ABOUT EVERYONE, ALL THE TIME!" She screams from less than three feet away. "You come in all high and mighty and then all you do is bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch, bitch! You don't every say thank you! You don't compliment anyone on the work they do! You know HOW HARD BF is working over there? EVERY FUCKING DAY. And you NEVER say thank you! NEVER!"
Now, I have a quick response all lined up in my head, that I NEVER say. "I say thank you, with a paycheck. I say thank you, with a loan. I say thank you, with Twenty-thousand dollars you owe me. I say thank you, when I never say a word about you only working thirty hours a week or less. I say thank you in all the ways I NEVER say ANYTHING about all the ways you take advantage of me, and this job. That's how I say thanks." But... since I don't say that, I say, "I never see him!" What I should have said is; "He comes and says "Hello Mr. Williams. How are you today?" and gets way too close! And smells like he just smoked four cigarettes and downed eighteen CBD gummies! His eyes are fucking bloodshot! He comes in, punches in, goes and smokes. Makes breakfast, sits down and eats. Smokes again. Waits around for you to print sheets. Then he goes outside to smoke. Then he goes to the warehouse and rolls cigarettes. Drinks half a pepsi. ONLY HALF. The bottom half of the bottle is for losers. That half, he sets on a shelf next to the merchandise, so he can remember where it is. Then he goes to smoke. Then he comes back to pull some merchandise, and then he stops once he realizes you might not have smoked yet, so he comes to get you, so you can both go outside the front of the office and smoke together. Then he comes back inside, sits around and waits for mom or dad to say something about him sitting around, before he goes back to pulling orders, or smoking."
But, since I'm not saying any of that, I'm just sitting here, my plan is to let her run her mouth until she's all out of steam. She will figure it out. She'll calm down. Or maybe she won't. Worst case scenario, I'll have to send her home, and then after a couple hours and some serious self-reflection, I might get some honest hard work out of her for a week or two, which is what I really need, with the holidays coming up...
"You sit there, and fucking SMUG," she screams. I'm surprised she knows that word. "All mister perfect. Acting like I owe you something. Well I don't owe you a god-damned thing! I don't you my fucking time! I don't owe you, or this fucking business ANYTHING! You tell me you're hurting for money? WE'RE ALL HURTING FOR MONEY! But do you give me a fucking pay raise? NO! FUCK-YOU! Fuck-you, fuck-you, and fuck-you! Fuck this business. I don't care if you go bankrupt or not! That's ON YOU! Not me! I'm fucking done!"
I'm still sitting there, not moving really. I can't concentrate on the postage and I don't want to fuck anything up, so I don't. I just sit and take it, like a bitch... or like Mr. Calm cool and collected. Either way. I'm not having any part of it. She walks over to the other side of the divider wall and keeps talking, spouting insults that are escalating. It's clear to me, this is not going to end well. Either I'm going to leave, or she is. I'm waiting for the moment I feel I can slip out and report to my wife, that her sister is having a fucking mental crisis melt down, and she needs to come intervene, because I'm clearly not the one to do it... but then, my OM gives me the out I need, and drops the N-word. "All you ever do is treat everyone around here like a bunch of N-words" or, it might have been, "All you do is treat me like I'm a fucking N-word". I didn't quite catch the exact verbiage, but it was enough for me. I don't fucking tolerate that bullshit. Fuck that.
"Well, if that's the way you feel then... just go home," I say.
Shit starts flying. Shit is literally hitting the wall. She's throwing shit. I hear her speed dial with thumbs, and says "Kerry just sent me home. Get the fuck over here. We're leaving." She hangs up.
Faster than Mercury, this MF shows up, drops his shit and is out the fucking door, slamming it behind them, trying to break it. No worries. It has one of those pneumatic plungers to keep that from happening, but he fucks it up in the process. It's not broken, but it's not the same as it was, either. A few moments later, he comes back to tell me, he's taking her home, and they'll be back in the next morning. I tell him, I sent her home to cool off. He understands, or at least, he says he does.... but does he?
I call my wife and tell her what went down. A half an hour later, my Mother-in-law (mom), shows up and immediately, without asking a word, says, "What you did isn't right."
"What did I do?" I ask.
"What you said. I heard what you said-"
I say straight to her, "Oh? Were you here? No. You weren't. You weren't even fucking here. So, how would you know, other than what Suzie just came down and told you at the doctor's office. You wanna know what I said? Very little. We were having a conversation, I brought up an issue, and she threw the kids working over the summer in my face, like I did something wrong. After that, I SAT, while she SCREAMED AT ME, for a good FIVE MINUTES STRAIGHT. And when she was done, she went over there, and she dropped the N-word. So I sent her home to cool off."
"She said you fired her," my mom says. "And she didn't say any of those things."
"You wanna sit down and watch the tapes?" I offer.
"No," she says. "I don't have time for that. I have to go home."
"Yeah. Well, I'll see you tomorrow then," I say.
The next morning, it's more of the same. He said / she said, and every time someone tries to say some bullshit, I offer up the tapes. "Just go ask to watch the tapes," I offer, referring to the camera recordings in HD with audio. "Go ahead." And after that, I voice my opinion about everyone and if I think they are fucking me over. No holds barred. I own every word. The BF texts me the night before, after the blow up, and says he will come in to pull orders. He's a no-show. I text him and he texts me back saying he's been up all night long and hasn't slept yet, but he'll come in later that evening to pull orders. I say okay. He says my S-I-L might not come in. Okay fine.
Since orders need to be packed and shipped, I pull everything. I pack it. I ship it. That evening comes and goes... the BF and S-I-L are a no-show. Later that night I get texts from BF saying he'll be in the next day, but not until the evening because he has to drop off the car he's been working on for the past 3 days. Three days because he pulled another clock in and leave scenario, the day before the blow up, to go fix someone's vehicle for $500 on the side, while still on the clock, getting paid by me...
Since he's not coming in until the next day, in the evening, I pull all the orders and ship them out that day, and plan on coming in and doing the same the next morning... I go home at 10 pm. I get up the next morning after sleeping in until 10 am. If nobody is going to be there in the morning, and I'm working 10am to 10pm, why not? I check my phone. I have texts.
BF: 9:19 am. Hey I am here at work just me wanted to come in for a few i am waiting on parts once they come in i am going so i can finish the car repair. i am only here for an hour or two today. if you need me to come back just let me know, _____ didn't come she's waiting on a phone call from kerry so they can talk not getting in the middle of it all love you guys
BF: 9:28 am. Ok well I have nothing to do but move stuff around and I can't do that not sure where my yellow pad of paper went that had the stuff I moved over the other day it had all of the _____ wrote down already and not sure if they got updated
BF: 9:39 am. I will be back later today if you need me to come pull orders let me know but I am not just going to sit and wast time
Yeah, so, those are the actual texts, with a bit redacted and all the lack of grammar and punctuation one could ever ask for. So, without telling us, actually, telling us differently, he shows up with nothing to do, stays on the clock for 20 minutes, and then leaves. He doesn't show up later on either. No, I did not text him back because he said he was coming back later that day. But he didn't.
After reading the messages, my household went into the office, worked all day, did an amazing amount of work, and then left, ready to hit it hard the next day. Before we could come in though, my wife got a phone call from her dad, who told her that both OM and BF were there, in the office. They had been there for two hours prior... My entire household gets up and in five minutes we are at the office. I walk in first.
OM is at her desk. BF is at his desk. I say, "good morning!" BF says "we're leaving." I say, "Oh, oookay." He says, "Well, you cleared out the OM desk. Obviously that's what you want." I glance at the desk, which was a fucking pig-sty the day before. Kimmy had taken the time and effort to clear off and organize it because she was searching for missing merchandise. She did not "Clear Out" anything. Everything was still in the drawers. All the personal stuff was right where it had always been. All the "personal" stuff on the desk top, was now in a small basket off to one side. All the GARBAGE was thrown away. Old empty wrappers, discarded napkins, plasticware, order sheets for cancelled or lost orders that had been reprinted, paper work from issues long ago resolved, and other things of the sort, were no longer cluttering the desk. I explained that. It didn't matter.
"Well, that's what it looks like," BF says.
Well, much like a pig with lipstick might be mistaken for something else, this was not what it looked like, but again, it didn't matter. Right then, I got a phone call from my son, who was in the warehouse by this time, and I ran over to help him with an issue. By the time I returned, my S-I-L was at the front door, screaming at my wife, and my M-I-L, "You know what? That's FINE! That's jusssh FINE! I'm DONE! That's FINE!"
Apparently the discussion had blossomed between my wife and her sister, and my M-I-L was actually telling my wife's sister that she was out of line, and that she needed to calm down, and that she was taking things the wrong way, but... it didn't matter.
For the past 3-4 days, since the blow up, every day, multiple times per day, I was asked if I was going to call my S-I-L and apologize, discuss, talk about, the blow up. As a business owner, you don't call your employees and beg them to come back to work and perform mediocre at best, and continue to take advantage of you. As a brother-in-law, I was not going to call my sister-in-law, and reinforce or enable her bad behavior. Outside of work, she can be as bossy as she wants, and she is. She's the boss of her own family and life, as everyone should be. At work, she WAS the Office Manager, not the owner, not the boss, but she was when I wasn't there... until she did me wrong, at work, to the point I could no longer tolerate it. With everything she had done, and her BF had done, I was not calling her for anything. I asked my mom and dad how she and her family were doing, but I was not going to call her directly. I did not need the confrontation.
What I hoped would happen; She would calm down, come into work the next day, apologize for loosing her shit, and get back to work, to do better.
What I got instead; She and her BF quit. Right before the busiest season. Right when we were hurting the most. Right when we needed them the most. No notice. No cares. No fucks given. Quit. Within 24 hours the BF had a job at our local pizza joint. Within 3 days of that, she had a job at a Mega Super market with a very popular name.
What I also got; I found out that my S-I-L deleted everything she could off her work computer. I mean deleted, and then emptied the recycle bin, deleted the history, deleted the passwords, deleted it all, cleared it all, then tried deleting the operating system, and then when things stopped working, she shut it off and restarted it with her toe, on and off, on and off, as many times as she could before we got there, trying to destroy the computer...
What I learned was, family only matters, when you want something from the rest of your family. When you want to guilt trip them into doing something for you. When you want to manipulate them. RESPECT, and real GRATITUDE build stronger relationships than a blood relation. And so, as the days passed, my household came into work, 7 days a week, from 10am to 10pm, and did everyone's jobs, and far better than they ever did them. We caught up. We fixed things. We improved, and somehow, with me answering the phones and getting orders shipped out within 24 hours, our sales improved!
Now came the question; Would we be going to Grammy and Grampy's house, for Thanksgiving? Yes, this is mom and dad at work, Grammy and Grampy at home. Would we be showing up? At first, we said no. Then it was yes, then it was no. We wanted to have Thanksgiving, but not at the expense of the happiness and joy we wanted from such a day. The answer came to be... sure. Would we be all smiles and cheerful? Maybe. Just don't ask us to talk about work, or be giddy with delight with the two people who stiffed us just a few weeks prior.
Three days before the big day, Dad says to my wife, "I'm only going to say this once, and I'm going to tell your sister the same thing. If you can't be cordial to each other on Thanksgiving, then don't come." Unprovoked, this was not the thing to say to my wife.
"Then we're not coming," my wife says, but then continues. "If I can't be myself and voice my opinion about what they did to us, then I'm not coming. My family is not coming!" Mom comes over and gets in the middle, telling my wife that it's family and all family is welcome on Thanksgiving, and she's her sister. Dad says she needs to get over it, and get over it fast. No, no, no. Bad-bad. Oh no. My wife raises her voice. "FAMILY doesn't fuck each other over like they did! Family doesn't say if your business goes bankrupt, I don't care! Family doesn't-" Mom interjects and tries to say that S-I-L didn't say these things. "The fuck she didn't! And FAMILY doesn't DESTROY business computers and erase all the business files!"
My mom says S-I-L didn't do that. She just deleted her personal stuff off the computer. My wife says "NO, SHE DIDN'T." And explains we had to restore the computer with a tech, to a previous state, in order to restore the files she deleted, and she tried to delete everything, operating system included.
"I have a SERIOUS Problem with what my sister did to my business. Besides what she said or didn't say, what she DID is PROOF. And If you don't have a problem with what she did, then WE have a problem."
That was the end of the discussion, and at that point, we were NOT going to Thanksgiving. Two days before, it changed. Grampy saying this might be mom's last Thanksgiving, implying she might just die soon, was the nail in the coffin, so to speak. My wife agreed to come to Thanksgiving, but she would not be speaking to her sister. That was final.
And now.... to the MAIN EVENT!
Thanksgiving Morning. Kimmy is busy making her grandmother's recipe for Lithuanian stuffing; a mix of shredded potatoes and onions, mushrooms, duck drippings and shredded bacon. I should have lead with the bacon, right? Bacon and potatoes.... ugh. Pure ecstacy. Anyways, I was in Deep Fried Turkey Mode! By noon the bird was in the oil, and the house smelled of bacon and cooking hash brown potatoes, onions and Thanksgiving cooking amazement.
I called Grampy to annonce HAPPY THANKSGIVING! and give him an update. He sounded worn out and weary. I hung up quickly so he could get back to his own kitchen, which I hoped was going well. Dinner was at 4pm. We were told to be there, SHARP. Sharp in our family means, fashionably late. So, with that in mind, we were loading the van with people turkey, stuffing, and all the things I need to make Holiday Punch, just before 4pm, and my son was still in bed, fast asleep... Ugh, Potter Boy if I ever knew one. LOL.
We arrived to Grammy and Grampy's house at 4:15 pm. We walked in, said Happy Thanksgiving! and started bringing things in. Immediately, I noticed the kitchen was very tense. Grammy and Grampy were fighting. Grammy said nothing was going according to plan. Grampy said it was fine and give it a rest. Then Grampy says to me, "You're not making punch, until AFTER dinner." I nodded. It's his house after all. But then I added, "I thought you might say something like that, so... I brought some punch already made." Nobody said a word. I just set everything down, and went back out to grab more stuff and bring it in.
Shortly afterward, I sat down at the table and, being cordial, greeted everyone individually. I gave each person a hug or hand shake, and made small talk. Soon dinner was being put on the table and seating arrangements were being doled out. I was sat next to my S-I-L because, well, Mr. Cool. She no longer works for me, so I have no issue with her professionally, any more. Do I want her to pay me the money she owes me? Yes. So, I might be a bit more accomodating, especially since they paid me $50 toward the bill almost first thing when I sat down.
The table was set, food arrived and was passed around, and it was better than any previous year I can remember. My wife's brother showed up with his fiancé, and they sat at the end of the table. Thanksgiving dinner commenced around 4:30 pm. Before I was done, at 5:15 sharp, My wife's brother and fiancé were saying their goodbyes and were out the door. This is their Thanksgiving MO. They never stick around for clean up and are out the door the very moment they can leave. Of course it's because they had to go home and do another Thanksgiving with her family, but is it really? LOL. No, it is, but I love saying that.
Did I mention, before we eat, we go around the table, one by one, and say what we are all Thankful for. This year was a real treat, with my sister giving her current employer and job kudo's, and my wife specifically pointing out her supporting mother, father, and brother - HUH? He's not involved at all - And intentionally not saying her sister. But that was where that started and ended. Word's were not traded. Nobody raised their voice, screamed, yelled or insulted... much. That was it.
After dinner, clean up was under way, S-I-L helped out, along with her daughter, and Kimmy and I pitched in minimally, mostly because we were still finishing, or at least I was. It was approx 6 pm, when, while sleepy eyes and resting on the couch, my niece came to me to say goodbye. They were leaving. S-I-L, BF and neice all said goodbye, and left.
And so, we were down to my family of six, Grammy and Grampy, and everyone was looking pretty worn out. Grammy was doing dishes, Grampy was sitting on the couch watching the game. None of my household follows sports. Every year, we usually sit and chat about work, or bullshit about politics, or current events. Sometimes we play cards, or do other dumb stuff, but with everyone else already gone, it just seemed like a no brainer. We would pack our stuff up and go too. Grammy and Grampy could then relax and we would have the rest of the evening to ourselves.
As we got ready to go, Grampy was heard exclaiming how this was the ABSOLUTE WORST Thanksgiving ever. I can't really agree. It seemed cordial to me and much better than past Thanksgivings. The one after Great Grandma died was pretty hard with everyone crying. The one before that when Great Grandpa Buster died was hard too. The one before that when our other Great Grandma died was hard as well. The various Thanksgivings where my wife's brother brought friends, acquaintances, girlfriends whom he broke up with soon after, or his ex-wife, which was his wife at the time, before he divorced her after messing around with his current fiancé on the side... Yeah, I'd say, all in all, this Thanksgiving was pretty tame. Not to say it was the greatest of all time because, I feel like that one is still in the works. There is always hope, always the future to look forward to. Someone once said, it's not a real Thanksgiving unless someone is drunk, someone is crying, someone is laughing, or someone is dying. And all of those things don't have to be different people. It can all be the same person. I say, stick with laughing until you cry, don't drink until you're drunk, and keep on living until you die.
About the Creator
As a child I often said I wanted to be an astronaut. Big dreams for a small boy. My mother taught me to dream, my father, to fear. As an artist I've found a great afinity with being able to lie, a.k.a. create fiction. Here, I lie to you. :)