Tipping point

I’m sitting here in my now over familiar spot at the front desk. If I look straight ahead there is the road outside. On the far side of it is the mysterious construction site shrouded in blue that has been a work in progress since before the time I arrived here. It’s a cool day, the light is flat. Cars pass by at regular intervals, but people much less so. It is very quiet.

The usual ambient music plays in the background. The electric fire hums, the glow of the fake fire adding some warmth to an otherwise drab environment. Without needing to listen too hard I can hear the excited chatter of my Thai therapists coming from the back room. They have found something to be passionate about. I wish I could say the same.

It’s the Queens Birthday long weekend. I came into it not knowing if that would mean it was busy or quiet, but I feared the worst. My fears were well founded as it turns out.

At first it was deceptive yesterday morning. Within 2 hours of opening yesterday we had 4 customers. But then no more until 4 hours later. And after that, nothing.

A few weeks ago we took about $1,000 on a Saturday. Yesterday it was a little over $200.

Sunday is the busiest day of the week normally. We’ve been open about 90 minutes and nothing yet. It seems almost still outside, like the Sundays of my youth when nothing was open and no-one would go out. I think we’ll be lucky to do the same business as we did yesterday.

As for tomorrow – well, I have little expectation of that too.

This is the way of retail, particularly in this area. People take the opportunity to go away for a little break. Speaking to the French bakers I’m friendly with earlier today they mentioned their business was down by half yesterday, but that they had been warned.

On an immediate, practical level it means I have no chance of making this weeks payment. I’m looking at my worst week for nearly 6 months, the dead post-Christmas period. I’m fortunate that I have cut my costs so close to the bone, but even so I will struggle to pay all the salaries.

To further add to the drama I have to pay a hefty electricity bill this week or face having the supply cut.

Naturally all this troubles me, particularly the staff payments. The surprise has gone from it though, the drama. It’s just another week of rolling the boulder up the hill, except, perhaps, the hill is a little steeper than usual.

You know I have a positive attitude in general. I take the view generally that if there are problems I can’t control then I’m better off putting them out of my mind. I focus on the here and now, the things I can influence, and the things I must do, one day at a time.

All the same I have to force myself to be that person. I’m fortunate to have a blithe aspect to my spirit, but it only carries me so far. The rest is all will. The will to set aside the things that are plainly unpleasant – which is most of my life right now, to be blunt. The will that makes me get up again each morning  and do it again each day. The will to pick up the phone or write an email, the determination to be such and such a person and assume an untroubled manner, because I must in dealing with staff, and with those who might seek to buy the shop. It’s hard work.

I feel right on the cusp now. It’s come to the point where it must tip one way or another. Tuesday is my deadline. I either manage to get a buyer across the line, or I don’t, in which case I lose the shop and everything with it.

I really don’t know what will happen. There is a buyer out there, but my experience is that while so many are content to dwell on the pot, to piss in it is a different order of magnitude. I care desperately, but there is also a very weary part of me that wants an end to it – a resolution – no matter what it might be.

That’s the good news I guess. Soon it will be over. I can’t go on like this much longer, physically or otherwise. I’ve worked in the shop the last 3 weeks straight, and for most of those days for 12 hour stints (including a week when I was pretty crook). I find that catching up with me. The wear and tear of making things meet, of scrambling to survive another week, week after week, takes an intellectual and emotional toll.

On top of all that now the shop has reached its lowest ebb at the worst possible moment. I’ll excuse the fact of it with the long weekend. There are always ups and downs regardless, and the ups will come again. I need to survive till then and, if I am to sell the place, hand it over in good faith.


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