I went in to talk to the manager today, to try to explain the situation as best as I could, and make sure that I had set time frames for closing and settling the small balance of back rent that I owe.
I don’t know him very well. He was the manager for almost a decade before I opened my shop, and had been gone for at least a year when we opened. I’ve dealt with 2 managers (not counting him) in the 2 years I have been there, and I had great relationships with both. Then, about two months ago, the manager we’d had for about 6 months was simply gone one day, and “Jack” (current manager, and a pseudonym) was back. I’d never worked with him before, though most of the other vendors knew him well.
I developed a good relationship with “Jack” quickly, which surprised me, since I knew that he was a man of extremes, and that most vendors either loved him passionately or hated him fervently. Being that sort of person myself (people rarely feel neutral about me, I’m either a hero or a despicable villain, it seems), I know how two polarizing people interacting can blow up in your face like an Acme kit with Road Runner. Luckily, I network and build business relationships about as naturally and instinctively as I breathe in and out, and we had a common area of interest that we bonded over.
After the events of the past few days (See Closing Time and Telling the Kiddo if you are not up to date), I knew I had to talk to “Jack” today. So many of the decisions I have to make cannot be made without knowing where he stands on how much time I would have to pack up shop, and how much rent I would have to pay in the interim.
My mom came with me, which I was thankful for. I went into my booth, choking back tears as I did so, to retrieve a few personal items that had gotten left behind this weekend. “Jack” came down to talk and I tried to explain the situation to him.
It was like talking to a politician.
He’s made it very clear in the past that he will do practically anything to keep my business working well and in his market. We have some of the best merchandise available in a building with close to 100 vendors, our shop is one of the best looking, and we are fair and honest business people. He’s trying to re-invigorate a market that has been on a steady decline for multiple years, and we are the kind of vendors that he needs more of to make that happen, not less. He’s offered me free use of outdoor vending space, discounts on booth rent, all sorts of things to make sure we are making money in spite of incredibly slow customer traffic in the past. And apparently, he doesn’t grasp the concept that a problem like this cannot be fixed by me making more money.
As soon as I started to give him the gist (which I was attempting to keep vague, because I don’t want to see “Isaac” and his kid get lynch mobbed; I’m not a vengeful person), “Jack” started pushing heavily for more information. He wanted to know Isaac’s identity, and kick him and his kid out of the market entirely. I kept explaining that even if that happened, my son now gets anxious just being at the market now, because he never knows for sure if the other kid is going to randomly pop up, and that I’m not looking to hurt “Isaac” or his kid. He just kept monologuing; unlike myself, apparently “Jack” is a vengeful person, and he was angry. He wanted us to stay, he was angry that I was having to give up my passion (his choice of words, not mine – I know I am a person of many passions) because of someone else doing something horrible, he wanted whoever this vendor and their kid were out of his market now, whether or not we left.
I understand his motives. And I understand his anger. The problem is, he cannot seem to understand MINE. This was MY child that was victimized. This was MY business that I built with my own blood, sweat, and tears, that was ending. No amount of customers or traffic or profit will make me stay. And if “Jack” kicks “Isaac” out, and my kiddo still has anxiety there, then what? Then “Isaac”, a man that, in spite of his flaws, I admired very much until a few days ago, would have lost his job, and I would still have to move out and close shop. That doesn’t fix anything either, it just hurts more people. Unless he has a Tardis hidden in the back room, there is nothing “Jack” can do to fix this. It’s already been done. My son has already been victimized. All I can do now is do everything I can to keep him from more pain and trauma.
Everyone continually trying to show me potential “ways out of this problem without moving/closing” is driving me nuts. I’ve run those scenarios. I’ve run those possible paths forward through my brain non-stop since I woke up Saturday morning and realized that this was the only way out: the option that would hurt my kiddo the least. I’m doing what’s right for my son. So why is everyone so hell-bent on stopping me? JUST LET ME FUCKING PARENT MY CHILD AND KEEP HIM SAFE. That’s all I’m asking for. Respect that I know what’s right for him and me and our family, so stop trying to win the Kobayashi Maru test. There IS NO WIN in this scenario. It is what it is, and I have to choose between a lot of shitty options and pick the least shitty. And somehow, everyone is suddenly an expert at handling a child who has been sexually victimized. I’m one of the those victims, so please, tell me how your huge soiree of theoretical/colloquial knowledge makes you more qualified than me to decide what’s right for MY child.
-sigh- I didn’t mean this to be so ranty. I’ve barely slept in the last few days. Barely eaten. I have half a notebook’s worth of decisions and logistics and practicalities that I have to figure out in the next hours to days to weeks, and I still have no fucking clue what to do.
Except for one thing. I know we have to leave the market. And I’m done defending that decision to people who seem to think it’s still up in the air. It’s not. My choice is made. My course it set, and I will not change it now.