One writer's journey
|Well here we are at the end of 2019. What a year it's been. I don't even know where to begin honestly. But here goes nothing.
On May 8th, we finally opened the gas station. Only to shut down within an hour because the gas company had marked the pumps wrong. As well as a few other issues they had to work out. On the 9th we had our first full day. This is a totally screwy business. I'm not going to lie about that. We are one of 3 on that corner, competing with 4 others within a mile.
If it wasn't for my son and uncle working the nightshift, I would've shut this place down. I had one employee who I let go because she was just too trusting, and couldn't seem to pick it up well enough. Everything is scanned into the system. It's not rocket science. Anyway, I let her go for doing something she shouldn't have that put herself in danger. So onto employee #2. We trained her, gave her a key to open. Everyone seemed to like her. Her first shift, she never showed to open. I only found out about it when my husband showed up and couldn't get inside. I got to work, opened up and hired employee #3 on the spot. She was a regular customer and only lived 2 blocks away.
At this point, it's almost September, and I'd been working 7 days a week/12 hours a day. Way past the point of exhaustion.
I took my time with this one, trained her well, though she took the register like she'd done it a million times prior. What I didn't know [which the entire neighborhood apparently did] was that she was a drug addict. I had my suspicions, I'm not going to lie. I was desperate too. I needed someone. And she was good and talking down anything negative about herself.
She worked her first weekend and came in on a Wednesday. I was in the garage catching up on my paperwork. Friday night my son closed and I had to open on Saturday morning. My employee claimed her son had a game.
I get to work at 5:30 am, and the door I usually come in was unlocked. I brushed it off, thinking my son forgot to lock it. The cashier area was locked, so that had to be it, right? I unlocked that door, mind you, it's dark inside and I hadn't turned on any lights at this point. But I could see what looked like scratch-off shavings on the counter. Brushed that off too. I went to my desk to get my opening drawer, and recount the cash from the night before and this when I realized I had a really big problem. The night shift count was off. The opening drawer was off. I counted and recounted 5xs and wrote down the denominations of each bill and how many I had.
When I went back to the cashier area, I realized lottery tickets were missing and I was right about the shavings. I got the store ready to open and called the Lottery office the second they opened. They had me pull every scratch-off book we had from the boxes. Out of 12 different games, 10 were tampered with. My employee who seemed so desperate to improve her station in life and help me out, so grateful for finding a job, had robbed me blind right under my nose.
After I learned the extent of the stolen tickets, I called the police and began counting cigarettes to see what else she had stolen. The list was long and expensive. By the time the police arrived, I had a list of items amounting to $2000+.
Every lottery book she stole from had to be pulled and I couldn't sell them. Then the lottery informs me that the only way I can report them as stolen I had to pay for the entire book. The price for all ten lottery books was $5500. I didn't have that kind of money. I didn't have a choice and had to tell them to cash them out. I had 3 days to come up with the money.
That afternoon, employee #3 walked by the station. My husband called out to her and told her to bring the key back. She said she didn't have it on her and would bring it back. I'm still waiting for that to happen.
This set off a lot of texting back and forth. She wanted to come and get her paycheck. I told her no key, no shirts, she wasn't getting paid. My accountant says I have to pay her for the hours she worked. I mean seriously, she ripped me off and I have to pay her? How fucked up is that?
Needless to say, I wrote the check, it's sitting in my drawer. On Monday, the lottery office called again to tell me that stolen tickets had been cashed, but she couldn't tell me where. They also informed me that since it was an inside job, they don't reimburse the money I was out. The only way to recoup my losses is to take her to court. That morning, the employee's cousin bursts into the store asking me why I let her cousin go. I refused to say. But one look at the lottery box, and it's obvious that something had happened. She said she knew it, that she saw her cousin with a slew of scratch-offs. She and her mom have both offered to testify against her. Since the lottery office wouldn't give me additional information, I was able to track down stolen lottery tickets that she actually cashed in my store on her last shift. How freakin ballsy.
This all went down in early October. One week after my employee ripped me off, I called the woman I had fired and asked her if she would like to come back to work. Thankfully, she said yes. I mean, she may be slow on the register, but she never stole from me and showed up when she was supposed to.
We've had the locks changed 3xs through all of this. Every time I think things are going to get better, something else happens. Equipment failures that keep getting added on to what we owe the gas company. As of right now, I won't see a profit on the gas until November 2020. I'm racking up debt like insanity for the store.
I could go on and on about the business, but it exhausts me. On the bright side, I have regular customers whom I adore. Definitely see the best and worst in people. I won't even go into what they do to the public bathroom.
On the publishing front, that fell through. 90% of the book is edited. I have a cover and no publisher. No idea what I will do with it now. I really would like to see my hard work get published, but I would need someone to edit the last 5 chapters. Man, I was so high thinking a pub house was going to take on my book and get it out there, only to get the constant run around. I get it, getting a new company off the ground is hard work, but they totally sucked at communication, and bottom line, they were unprofessional and just didn't seem to give a shit one way or the other.
I went to court on December 11th, and of course, she pleaded not guilty. She actually thinks that because she wasn't working that day it couldn't have been her. She must think I'm stupid. She was the only person aside from family who had a key. We go back to court on January 29th for a pretrial where I get to show all of my evidence to the court. I saved everything.
It's almost 10 pm, which is my bedtime. I don't have to open the station at 6 tomorrow, but my internal clock wakes me every day at 5 am regardless.
Here's to a better, brighter, and hopefully and a prosperous 2020!!