Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 140

The current cast of characters:
Paul Howley: age 44
Mal Howley: my wife
Adam Howley: my son, age 19
Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 15


My company was being run by an overall company manager while I was living over one hundred miles away in New Hampshire. Now that I no longer employed him, I was in trouble. I had to find someone I could trust to take over the day-to-day operations and take care of the finances and payroll. I had some very good employees at the time but none had been trained to handle all of these important and confidential tasks.

My long-time friend and employee, Pat, was currently managing the store that we opened in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, but the store wasn’t growing fast enough or generating the profit necessary to keep it open. I talked Pat into closing the Rhode Island store and coming to work at the Worcester location to manage things while I decided what would be the best for the company. I had known Pat for many years and I trusted him completely. In order to pay Pat the amount of money he needed to support his family we agreed that he would begin to list some of our huge inventory on eBay. The extra income that this Internet auction site would provide would help pay his new salary and his health insurance premiums. For this idea to work, Pat would need to list about twenty auction lots each day. This seemed like a good solution for both of us. I now had a trusted friend overseeing my business and Pat would be able to provide a decent income for his family that he had “uprooted” from their home in Pittsburgh to Massachusetts.

We informed our Rhode Island store landlord that we were moving out. Since the landlord was actually the same guy who was renting out half of my Worcester store building, he had no problem with it. He was a great guy to do business with. We packed up a huge moving truck and brought the entire inventory and all of the fixtures back to our Worcester store location. For the next several months Pat tried to sell this excess inventory on eBay. He sold quite a lot of inventory this way but it just wasn’t enough to justify the expenses of his salary plus the high eBay fees. Pat’s wife really wanted to be back in her hometown and her unhappiness in Massachusetts put so much pressure on Pat that he finally decided to quit and return his family to Pennsylvania. I knew I’d miss him because Pat was such a good friend, but he had to take care of his family and he wasn’t really very happy working at my store.

It was around this time that Ken, one of my part-time employees, told me he was willing to increase his hours at the store. It didn’t take him long to learn all of the necessary details to effectively run the two stores. I hoped that this time I had the right manager.

One day, our son Adam called to invite Mal and me down to Massachusetts to see him perform in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at his college. We were eager to see him tackle such a fun role. We drove to the college and were surprised to see Adam in his colorful costume. He had also dyed his hair a strange green color for the role. Adam was upset when we arrived because this was a student-directed play and the college had now, a few hours before the play was to start, decided that they wouldn’t allow the performance to begin because the director hadn’t legally gotten the “rights” to put on the play. Students were frantically trying to get everything smoothed out but it became clear that this play wasn’t going to happen. The actors were angry with the college professor who was overseeing the project because he should have been aware of this potential problem. Apparently, according to several students, this professor was lazy and wasn’t very good at his job. We visited with Adam for a few hours and went back to New Hampshire disappointed, but we knew we’d see Adam perform some other time.

Next chapter: We get a horrible phone call about our friends in Colorado.

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