Whatever will be

Yesterday was one of the worst days of my life, and that’s even considering that the thing with the ATO never happened.

What happened instead was a phone call from the RE agent for the shop wanting money out of me that I don’t have. He was very good about it, very understanding, and keen to manage a resolution satisfactory for all. Unspoken was the threat that If I don’t come up with the cash then the shop will be closed and there’d be nothing I could do.

I hate to admit it, but I went into a bit of tailspin after that. I felt my life, my future, flash before my eyes. I considered what few options I had then picked up the phone – something that I now regret.

What I did was contact some friends asking for help – financial help. Given the uncertainty of the situation they were justifiably wary. One refused outright. Another agreed to go halfway on the condition that someone picked up the other half – at which time I stopped. My head didn’t clear exactly, I still felt wretched, but among other things I realised suddenly I was making things more complicated.

In hindsight I’d panicked, and pretty understandably so. When you feel the trap about to open beneath your feet you feel pretty desperate and as if anything is reasonable. The term ‘gutted’ is so apt because that’s what you feel, hollowed out. It’s a terrible way to live.

The minutes and hours ticked by. I couldn’t do anything. My mind kept circling back to the worst case scenario, and what would I do then? What could I do? I couldn’t relax. I couldn’t concentrate on the things I had to do, I couldn’t even sit down and read the newspaper. I kept wondering what was going to happen, and what I could do to prevent it.

It’s times like these you understand how absolutely debilitating it is to feel powerless. Instinct is to fight or flight, but in neither case is it effective. You can’t escape this, nor can you really fight it, though you desperately crank things over searching for a way. The Zen way is to simply accept it and let it wash over you. There’s a lot of sense in that, but counter-intuitive to the western mindset. Let it go – except we can’t.

I had to go out in the afternoon. I dropped by the shop and spoke to J, my receptionist, letting her in on some of the peril. I went and had coffee, where briefly I found some respite chatting about music with the waitress there I fancy. I drove out Sandringham way to get my hair cut, feeling grim company for my hairdresser. I dropped by the Cheese’s after briefly. I’d told Cheeseboy of the situation earlier in the day, and now he tried to pitch the silver lining to me. I remained unconvinced.

I drove back to the shop and took the girls out for dinner. I’d promised this a while back as a thank-you for their hard work, and their support during a recent promotion. We went to a local Lebanese restaurant and the girls enjoyed it. I felt burdened still by the events of the day and the uncertainty surrounding it, but it did me good to see the girls happy and thankful.

I drove back and later lay in bed with these thoughts crowding in one after another. I had decided to call their bluff. I had little choice in the matter, but thought if I brazened it out they might fold. I slept dreaming of these things all night.

I woke refreshed and bright. I sat down at my PC and tapped out an email to them. I confirmed I was not making the payment they were asking of me. I expressed regret at the situation and reiterated my determination to do the right thing if possible. I asked that if they were set upon kicking me out of the shop to please give me adequate notice to organise the staff and cancel client bookings. Finally I offered a compromise solution – as I had previously, I offered a payment of $1,000 weekly to ensure the arrears does not grow. This time I offered a time limit – the end of the month. If I haven’t sold the shop by then they could have it, and it gave me time to organise closure if it came to that.

I was happy with the email. There is immense strain in a situation like this, and I’m glad to have an end date. Even if it is to go bad there is some relief in knowing that it is finished. If accepted it gives a chance to extract myself all the same, which is all I ask for. Finally it’s me assuming some command of the situation. I needed that little thing.

I made a statement in the email that was at the heart of what I felt. I explained that for me to come up with the money they wanted from me I would have to borrow it from my friends. I wrote that it was unreasonable and unfair to involve them in a situation that was my responsibility. I had woken with that conviction ringing in me. I felt embarrassed at what I had done yesterday. Later on I sent apologies to the people I had asked for money, sorry that I had put them in an uncomfortable position. In any case, I’d rather do it myself than have to rely on others.

I feel somewhat reconciled with whatever happens now. I have done what I can and I think it’s reasonable. If they’re reasonable and sensible they will accept it, and the signs are that they may grudgingly (they’ve contacted me about the weekly payment – I told them I would make it when I had an assurance they would not close the shop). If it is to be it will be, if not it won’t.

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